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April 28, 2006
Finally ive taken the plunge and this is my first post. I have eagerly read with great interest over the last few months, whilst absorbing all things chocoatey to help with my new shop.
My partner and I are opening Forsyth & Brown Chocolate. We will be located on The Barbican in Plymouth. UK
It is so exciting and frightening all at the same time. There seems so much to do.
Our shop is partly for retail of fine chocolate products and will also have a ‘chocolate bar’ for the enjoyment of hot chocolate made of course from real chocolate.
We will be making some of our chocolate on site with a viewing window to watch the chocolatier at work.
We hope to be open for the beginning of June.
If any forum membershave any advice, please tell us, this is our first venture and im sure there are things we haven’t thought of!
The barbican is a super location and Plymouth is quite a big city. The only chocolate shop here is Thorntons so it has been interesting finding out about chocolate.
The first time i tasted valrhona i was blown away. We will probably use this for our couverture. Although i am experimenting with El rey at the moment.
Sorry im rambling!!
Your comments will be much appreciated
February 13, 2006
l am in the same boat! opening my shop in Early June too.
We are in a tiny village in Norfolk, with only a handfull of shops.
The farm estates land owners are converting some barns and opening a fantastic farm shop and asked me to join in and have a unit beside them, which l jumped at the chance. Big risk in such a timy village but i feel it’s a bit like the film ‘Chocolat’ the crazy mad chocolatier opening a chocolate shop in a very religious village.
We too are undecided about which chocolate to use but l have been struck with the Elray San Domingo. We have to make a decision soon as we are due to open in a month.
We too are making onsite with customers able to watch us, but this makes a great way to pull in customers.
April 28, 2006
Good luck with your new shop. I had a look at your website, i love your lollies, they look great. Have you been making chocolate for long?
We went to the callebaut academy and had some training, it was a brilliant course and Beverley Dunkerley who ran the course is great.
We are experimenting like mad at home but feel like time is running out now as we will be open in a few weeks! It is much harder at home and makes you realise how the room temperature can affect the results. So a few disasters along the way! I am hoping to perfect my fresh Devon Cream Truffles, but i am putting on weight due to quality control!!
You sound more organised than we are, we are still branding and setting up websites. I cant make my mind up on courveture and packaging is an issue! I want some nice boxes, square ones but the budget wont stretch to bespoke, any suggestions on supplies?
Will post some questions in general discussions as i think im in the wrong section.
Good luck again Dale
May 29, 2005
Hi Dale and Hi Mel,
I have been in touch with Dale already as I am planning a shop as well. I am looking at the fall for opening. I am looking over several locations and need to decide soon. I am in the process of writing my business plan and I am pursuing a grant. Packaging is an issue. I have been going into all kinds of websites to see how people are packaging their product. The cheapest and easiest is to start with ballotin boxes, and cellophane bags for smaller quanitities such as 4-8 chocolates.
How do you like the El-rey chocolate? I find it very strong and it takes a little bit getting used to. The more I have the more I like it but my initial response was I did not like it. I find most people in my town like the Callebaut. So I am going to go primarily with Callebaut and Cocoa Barry. I do want to use other brands but those two and Lindt will be my main product line.
It is scary as will there be enough sales to cover the lease, etc.. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!!
Will be in touch again.
October 13, 2009
Hi Dale, Mel and Deb,
Good luck with your shops!! I opened my shop just before mother’s day. I am selling moulded chocolates and truffles – all using the callebuat standard range.
I am looking to move into the high end truffles – I enjoyed the El Rey samples, but not the single origin Callebaut – still have samples left so will try on some customers.
The shop is doing OK. One thing that I didn’t realise was that after a busy period (mother’s day / Easter) there is a huge lull in the market. I did expect it to be quiet but not that quiet. Things are starting to pick up this week.
A few words of wisdom that someone sent to me and I found very helpful:
1. Whatever your time scale – double it – other people don’t seem to realise the urgency of a project that you are passionate about. (I found it useful to identify the person in the process who had the most to lose if I backed out – in my case it was the estate agent who was handling the lease – so I put pressure on him to chase up the other people)
2. Whatever equipment, packaging etc you think you will need – you will find there are loads of other things you will want – financially this builds up – so watch the cost and decide if it is a case of ‘I want’ or ‘I need’.
3. Try and co-ordinate deliveries so that you can be up and running as quickly as possible – an empty shop waiting for equipment & stock is losing you money.
4. Remember the advice about signage given by the speaker at last year’s UK Chocolate Conference (also held at Slattery’s) – “Tell them what you do – not what your name is”
5. And finally – Don’t be a slave to your shop – if you are – you could lose your passion and it could become a chore!
(Hope u don’t mind me quoting you Angela!)
I found that this is all very true, particularly the “I want” or “I need” line and has helped to reign in my expenditure.
I would also say that when you review how well your shop is doing (and please do so regularly) always look at an overall picture eg a month in whole as opposed to just one or two days. I used to either be very happy or very upset at first based on each day’s takings – now I just look at two weeks at a time, and generally earnings are fairly consistent.
Also don’t be scared of trying new things, however if you do make sure you do offer tasters.
I could go on for hours … but well – if you need any specific advice please feel free to e-mail.
Good luck – hope it goes well – keep us all posted!
February 23, 2006
Wow! Bala, I have to admit I envy you and am a bit jealous at the same time. I have been wanting to do what you did for the better part of 15 years!!!!!! I have been playing with chocolate since I was 18 when the first mold was given to me by a friend and the love grew from there, I’m getting ready to have my 40th birthday and I still have yet to open my shop. That’s all I’ve ever wanted and I don’t seem to have the luck face my way. I don’t have the time to persue it when I have a full time job, then when I’m not working I don’t have the money. You have a husband, that is a big help, I wish I had something that could get me started. I know I make a great, high quality product, but just getting it out there is the hard part. I pounded the pavement for a while bringing in modest sales, worked on weekends, after/before working the full time job, but still I haven’t been able to find a way to just break out and do it. My hat is off to you and keep your fingers crossed for me, I haven’t given up hope yet!! I’m in the US so maybe there’s the difference?? I wish you all the best of luck!
Keep it Sweet!
April 20, 2005
Good luck Mel – one word of advice – don’t forget the corporate market! I have spoke to lots of chocolate shop owners from around the world and many report that nearly 50% of their sales come from corporate customers.
You will also be interested to know that the UK Chocolatiers Conference that Bala referred to will be held again this year on Monday 11th September. We are currently working on the programme and like last year, intend to include at least one successful chocolate retailers from the US and / or Europe.
April 28, 2006
Thank you everyone for all the support. Things will be a bit mad for a while whilst we shop fit and open but all your advice is really helpful.
Do you all agree that there is an air of excitement about chocolate at the moment and lots of shops are opening?
I will be interested in knowing more about the chocolatiers conference
February 13, 2006
Thanks for the advice Bala!
we have only aprox 3/ 4 weeks till we open, and i dont think i can take all the boxes of shop fittings etc that have taken over my house any more!!!
Very excited but a little scared, esp l am 13 weeks pregnant and due on Dec 20th (l know it will be xmas day!)
can’t wait to just start making the chocolates. we are starting to do dipped fruits in a week or 2 then try to start making the truffles while decorating the shop at the same time, women are great at multi tasking and with luck my husband will be too.
Will be posting photos on my website once finished.
June 19, 2006
I’ve just read your exciting news! Good luck it sounds very fab indeed! I wondered if you have any thoughts on the below as you have been through a similar hunt! I would like to locate a small company or a talented individual who would help us to develop and supply on an ongoing basis a range of very high quality chocolates for a new luxury brand? We can find lots of couverture but not many companies that will supply the finished product at a high enough standard! Any thoughts given will be very gratefully received….