Filling Easter Baskets & Feeding Those Less Fortunate

Chocolate bunnies have been part of the Easter tradition for a very long time. This year, we at The Happy Chocolatier will again add another element to the Easter chocolate and candy tradition: feeding those less fortunate.

Parents fill Easter baskets with chocolate bunnies and other treats every year. Easter Sunday is a time of joy as Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. It is also a time of celebration and fun for children as they awake to find their Easter baskets brimming with treats like chocolate bunnies, buttercream eggs, foiled chocolate eggs, jelly beans and much more.

This year when people purchase Easter chocolates and candy from The Happy Chocolatier, they will be adding another element of joy to the season. The Happy Chocolatier is going to donate a portion of sales from Easter candy purchases to Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry.

So, while we are all enjoying the holiday with our families, we can also know that a part of our Easter celebration helped to feed those less fortunate. Jesus did ask us to feed the hungry, right? Acton Community Supper and Food Pantry distributes 291,275 pounds of food to an average of 754 individuals each month. That’s a lot of families and we’d love to help them out.

Celebrating Five Years of Spreading Chocolate Happiness…Despite the Odds

Based on statistics from the Small Business Administration, The Happy Chocolatier is in the 50 percent of businesses that make it this far. Yes, half of all small start-up businesses don’t make it to year five. We are proud that our simple idea has matured into an established business in our community. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many challenges – some we should have anticipated and some we couldn’t have

Nagog Park Location

imagined. We’ve reached the five year milestone thanks to the hard work and commitment of our team, continued support from family and friends, learning from all of our challenges and successes, and persistence.

It seems like we were just writing a business plan, thinking through the chocolate line and deciding on packaging. It all started with a conversation about making a cubed truffle and sharing some “chocolate happiness.”

Acton Woods Plaza Location

Launching and managing a small
business has been the toughest professional challenge we’ve experienced. No longer were we focused on performance reviews and promotions to measure success. Now, continuing to pay our bills and the mortgage, while investing in a new business defined success.

We are very pleased with what our dedicated team has accomplished in five years:

  • Created a new brand and built solid consumer awareness in our market area
  • Opened and then moved a local retail store, and developed a local following
  • Expanded our corporate gift business by providing “chocolate solutions” for business needs
  • Increased the number of gift, specialty food and fine wine shops that sell our signature truffle Cubze
  • Broadened our product line (and had fun doing it)
  • Employed members of our area communities including over a dozen high school and college students
  • Hosted fun, educational chocolate making events for moms’ nights, scouts, school groups, clubs and birthday parties
  • Supported our local community through donations to: Household Goods Recycling, The Miracle League of MA, Acton Food Pantry, Beacon Santa, United Way, Girls Inc., area elementary, junior high and high schools, local houses of worship, The Discovery Museum and too many more to name.
  • Created a fun video with our truffle Cubze dancing to Pharrell Williams – take a look, it’s fun!

Our competition is fierce. People can purchase chocolates at the grocery store, drug store, specialty food shop and the mall. People can also choose to buy mass produced chocolates simply because the products cost less. Yet, we are still pushing ahead. We remain focused on our mission: “To offer consumers an indulgent and affordable chocolate experience that makes them happy and enables them to pass the happiness along by sharing.”

We deeply appreciate all of our customers. We thank you for shopping locally, because it enables us to continue supporting the local community and economy. And, that makes us happy.

Year Two in the Chocolate Business – Still Happy

We are happy that despite some challenges and mistakes, The Happy Chocolatier has indeed reached the milestone of making it through year two. Almost 90% of start-up businesses don’t make it to through the second year of business. Well, we are making headway thanks to our dedicated team, loyal customers and support from our local community. And, of course, our products are darn good!

The Happy Chocolatier team continues to deliver on our mission: To offer consumers an indulgent and affordable chocolate and ice cream experience that makes them happy. With our products and customer service, enable our guests to pass the happiness along by sharing the experience with others. As we strive to bring some happiness to others with what we do, we will be active participants in our local community.

In the past year we have made progress in each of the areas set forth in our plan:

  • Improved retail business as a result of moving our location to a new plaza on 340 Great Road in Acton; the new location has results in much needed walk-in traffic and we’ve met a large number of new people who are now fans of The Happy Chocolatier;
  • Expanded the number of retails outlets who now sell our signature truffle Cubze;
  • Partnered with businesses in or community (and beyond) to make their customers, clients and employees happy with the gift of our chocolates;
  • Expanded our offerings with a locally made ice cream from Lizzy’s Homemade Ice Cream in Waltham;
  • Introduced new products from our milk chocolate caramel sea salt and milk chocolate caramel pecan bars to luscious dark chocolate bark loaded with coconut, roasted cashews and caramel lace to fun items like dark chocolate high-heel pumps; for each holiday we introduced series of special items like our hand-decorated chocolate reindeer, candy-filled chocolate cornucopia for Thanksgiving and candy-filled chocolate bunnies for Easter.

The Happy Chocolatier has been recognized by the local community, regional media and trade media. This recognition provides confirmation of the quality of our chocolates and customer service of our associates:

  • The Happy Chocolatier was honored by the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce as New Retailer of the Year;
  • Our signature Cubze were reviewed by one of the food critics at The Boston Globe, as well as several smaller magazines, and received very positive comments and recommendations;
  • Two of our candy industry publications, Gourmet News and Candy Industry, provided positive reviews of our signature Cubze.

As part of our effort to be involved in our local community, The Happy Chocolatier has:

  • Participated in a variety of events including The Annual Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts (HGRM) fund raiser and the Annual Chamber of Commerce Gallery of Tastes;
  • Hosted fund raisers at our store for several local elementary schools;
  • Collected donations for a variety of charities from Pancreatic Cancer Action Network to the Acton Food Pantry;
  • Linked our sales to donations to a variety of charities including Lazarus House and the American Heart Association;
  • Provided gift certificates to local organizations such as United Way, Acton Family Network and The Discovery Museum for their fund raising activities;
  • Provided gift certificates to theater groups from R.J. Grey Junior High and Acton-Boxborough Regional High School.

While we are still a small and developing business, we do try our very best to give back to our community. As we grow, the business it is our intent to continue to give back to a greater degree as resources allow.

So, it is quite intentional that we celebrate our anniversary on Sweetest Day, which the Retail Confectioners International defines as the occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed.

As part of our second anniversary celebration, we are offering anyone who brings in a small or large bag of food for the Acton Food Pantry a FREE ice cream cone through October 21st.

We are very happy that we’ve beaten the odds and can continue to bring a bit of happiness to our customers, our local community and those who receive our chocolates as gifts. We know that we will continue to make mistakes, but we will learn from them and plan to grow the business through increased retail sales, expanded wholesale programs and continued growth of our corporate gift business. Continuing to be involved in our local community is an important part of our plan, as well.

Every step we take to develop The Happy Chocolatier is a step to spread the happiness with our chocolates. What can be more satisfying than that?

October – The Month of Chocolate Celebrations: The perfect month for The Happy Chocolatier to celebrate its 2nd Anniversary and give back to the Acton Food Pantry

Hand made chocolates from The Happy Chocolatier

When we opened The Happy Chocolatier in October 2011, little did we know the month is one of chocolate celebrations. So, we are happy to add our anniversary to the many chocolate holidays in October. It appears there are plenty of opportunities (or excuses) to come to The Happy Chocolatier to enjoy some chocolate in this month.

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from The Happy Chocolatier

And, the best reason to come into The Happy Chocolatier in this month of chocolate celebrations: As part of our second anniversary celebration, from October 7th through 21st we are offering a free ice cream cone to anyone who brings in a small or large bag of food for the Acton Food Pantry.

Here are some of the fun holidays to celebrate this month:

  • October is National Dessert Month
    • How about getting some chocolates and ice cream to share with family and friends after dinner
  • October is National Cookie Month
    • Chocolate covered sandwich cookies, s’mores or a chocolate chip ice cream cookie sandwich (with your choice of ice cream) are a great way to take advantage of this holiday
  • October 9th is the birthday of Philippe Suchard
    • One of the greatest chocolatiers in Switzerland and inspiration to many candy makers
  • October  10th is National Dessert Day
    • What’s better than ice cream and chocolate for dessert?
  • October 14th is Columbus Day
    • Explorer Christopher Columbus brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe after his fourth visit to the “New World.” One might bring some chocolate treats home or to a friend.
  • October 18th is National Cupcake Day
    • The Happy Chocolatier has candy treats to decorate homemade cupcakes and rich chocolate bars to make your icing
  • October 19th is Sweetest Day
    • The Retail Confectioners Association states that it is: the occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed. And we know the sweetest way to remember someone is with chocolate!
  • Sweetest Day is also the anniversary of the opening of The Happy Chocolatier retail store in Acton where the experience, chocolates and ice cream are meant to bring others a bit (or bite) of happiness.
  • October 28th is National Chocolate Day
    • As a local chocolate company, The Happy Chocolatier offers area residents a family-owned business providing excellent chocolate treats and gifts.
  • October 31 is Halloween
    • The Happy Chocolatier has some fun hand-crafted Halloween chocolate treats for the special kid in your life. From hand-decorated chocolate ghost pops to dark chocolate foiled pumpkins to mini-gift bags, we’ve a Halloween treat sure to bring some happiness to the recipient.

The Christmas Season Brings Happiness in Many Forms

I love the Christmas season. There are many things about the season that make me happy. The music. The smell of Christmas trees. The festive decorations around town. The aroma of fresh baked cookies and treats. Good times with family and friends. And, of course, chocolate treats.

But, what I enjoy most of all is that despite all the hustle and bustle of the season and the economic challenges for many, this is a time when the innate goodness in all of us comes to the fore. Time and food are donated to those in need. Change is put in the Salvation Army Red Kettles with the ringing bells reminding us to be generous. Giving trees pop up in houses of worship, schools and corporations. Toys are donated to various organizations for those little ones who might have none.  In fact, we at the Nagog Mall are hosting a visit from Santa Claus this coming weekend, December 10th and 11th from 12-3pm, to benefit the Acton Food Pantry.  The Acton Food Pantry is a great local organization that helps the many in need in our surrounding towns.

These actions indeed bring much happiness to those in need. And, they bring happiness to those who have given.