Thursday, February 12, 2009

La Romance

We’re getting into the romantic theme this year at La Châtelaine Chocolat! Like stage designers for a play, we assembled a display/scene of two loved ones sharing a romantic meal while on vacation (hence the suitcase). We all contributed with our treasures from home. Emily brought her Grandma’s vintage Depression Glass, Tacoma… a vase and sterling silverware, Kathy… a tablecloth and flowers, Allison… the suitcase, Theresa… a Champagne bucket. I brought the empty Veuve Cliquot Champagne bottle. Many customers have commented and get the scene, while others (such as my husband) don’t. Oh well.

To be totally honest, the economic crisis scares me a little. Customer foot traffic dawdled a bit in January. I began wondering if people might think of chocolates as a “luxury” – something to be scaled back on during lean times. Advice in the newspaper says to cut your daily espresso. Moi? I disagree. It’s the diminutive, beautiful luxuries that make me happy (books, cappuccinos, downloaded music...) I try to live without excess and remember to appreciate the ordinary, yet lovely (& yummy) things. These things aren’t luxury, and destined only for the high-brow elite! 
But… it is now February and the boxes are flying off the shelves this Valentines season! Yesss. 

A rare customer haggles with the price, but mostly people are quite happy with our selection. The wild morello cherry cordials are a big hit as well as the Nipples of Venus (although no one feels comfortable saying “nipples” – they point & say: “I’ll have that one”). This year, I rolled the chocolate truffles in three types of cocoa which makes an artistic presentation. I notice they’re selling faster, too. 
Je suis fatigué. I feel more tired this Valentines than last year. It is not solely because we’ve made and enrobed more than a thousand chocolates since Monday, either. Growing a business means more helpers. Then follows more questions to answer, more problems to solve, and more complaints. “Why is this recipe so confusing to follow?” or “for God sakes, why isn’t the chocolate tempered?”
Somehow, I miss the good ol’ days of being in the kitchen, solo, thinking only of chocolate techniques, not staples or marketing. If anyone knows the answer to growing a business without the horrid headache, please tell me.
 I wish every business out there good luck (or Merde en francais) during these hard times. Hang in there! 

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