Octogenarian proves you’re never too old to chase your dreams – but maybe a little nutty

Chicago's Very Own

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. — It may sound a little nutty, but her drive to share her delicious nut recipes with the world is an inspiration to almost anyone who has ever dreamed of opening a business.  

And at 86-years-old Sally Schoch didn’t let age or the pandemic stop her. 

 “I’ve seen too many people sit around too long – my contemporaries. I don’t want to be one of them,” she said.

Several days a week this octogenarian is in the kitchen preparing her secret nut recipe to sell in her snack shop, appropriately named Sally’s Nuts.     

The shop is located in the Highland Park Ravinia Arts District and opened it last month.   The menu features Schoch’s homemade pecans, almonds and cashews as well as grab and go sandwiches.   

Her daughter Kari Guhl said her mom’s recipe has been popular within their circle of friends for more than 20 years.         

“(She was always) just gifting them to friends and families for the holidays and it was always an issue that people wanted more,” Guhl said.

So Guhl suggested to her mom that she should sell them.  That was in 2017.

 “She said, ‘You just make the nuts, I’ll do everything else,’” Schoch said.

At first they started selling the nuts online.  From there the business has steadily grown.  Local grocers carry her items and the nuts caught the eye of a distributor who wants to expand the sales to 97 stores. And that’s when the two decided to look for a commercial kitchen and stumbled upon a storefront space.

Schoch is also an artist.  The store displays all of her artwork. For more than 60 years she’s been painting and selling her oils.  

While Schoch likes to keep her recipes top secret, she has no problem sharing the secret to running a successful business.  

 “ I just keep moving,” she said.  “I keep making and I keep moving.”

Guhl said her mom takes the proper precautions with the pandemic, but she’s never deterred.   Proving you are never too old to chase your dreams.

Shcoch said she never thought the business would evolve the way it has.

 “It’s been an incredible trip,” she said. “I would just like to live long enough to see it really successful. “

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