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by Elaine Morris Roberts

A box filled with nine pounds of in-shell Cajun roasted peanuts travels from Springfield to Houston every time the space shuttle launches.

Wallace Tuthill, a senior technical lead on orbiter fluids and electrical system at NASA’s Houston Space Center, has come to rely on The Peanut Shoppe, 1576 E. Main St., even though he’s never been to Springfield.

He found the store when he searched the Internet for “spicy peanuts” and now places an order before every mission.

“They had the best price, so I tried some and have been happy with them,” he said of his long-distance snack relationship.

His co-workers have come to expect and rely upon them while they whittle the time away.

“It’s a nice addition to our routine during a flight and it’s become a management thing — they’ve all developed a taste for them. It might even sharpen their focus … maybe it intensifies their thought process,” he said.

Getting — and keeping — on-line customers like Tuthill is one way The Peanut Shoppe, and other local businesses, are diversifying to keep things going (and going well) during the recession.

“We’ve worked hard. … In the face of the recession, we’re growing. We’ve gone after outside commercial business and increased sales in that area. You just can’t wait on people to walk in the door,” said co-owner Ron Pyles.

The Web site has brought in many orders and Pyles said they have shipped to all 50 states. Another customer in Hawaii regularly orders six pounds of pepitas.

Pyles, Jeanette Ferrell and their spouses, bought the store in 2005. Sales have increased more than 10 percent each year since they bought the store, and business volume has more than doubled, he said.

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