So You Want To Start A Chocolate Shop...
John Q. Tullius once said "nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies." It’s true! It seems that everyone loves chocolate...even the people who are allergic to it. As addictive as coffee, chocolate is a staple in almost every person's diet. So it’s understandable with demand like that, Artisan and gourmet chocolate businesses are popping up more and more. Are you thinking about sweetening your life by opening a chocolate shop?
Although the thought of working around delicious chocolate all day is tempting, you need to make sure you’ve got everything you need to run a successful chocolate shop. But don't worry...You're not alone! KaTom is here to help. We've created a handy resource for you with the tools and supplies that you'll need to open up your own chocolate business.
To start your own chocolate shop, you’ll need special tools and molds to successfully make your own chocolate candy. Here are our suggestions for a starter kit:
- Dipping Forks - Special tools are needed to carefully dip candies and bonbons into melted chocolate
- Chocolate Peel - Great for thin sheets of chocolate and removing excess chocolate on sheet pans
- Food Baller - Works great for when you’re making chocolate truffles or bonbons
- Decorating Tools - Get plenty of different sizes for filling molds and detail work
- Aprons - Chocolate is unbelievably messy
- Cotton Gloves - Thin cotton gloves protect the chocolate from direct contact
- Refrigerated Chocolate Case - Show off your creations!
- Sheet Pans - To make pans of candy, you will first need pans
- Parchment Paper - Keep the candy from sticking to the pan and keep the pan cleaner
- Pan Rack - Store pans of chocolates!
- Candy Molds - Produce perfect candy and also make it easier for customers to pick designs
- Double Boiler - If you've chosen the classic way of melting chocolate you'll need one of these!
- Range - If using a double boiler, you’ll need a range or at least a hot plate for heat
- Microwave - A commonly used melting method but be careful not to burn the chocolate!
- Bowls - You’ll need microwave safe bowls, if you’re using the microwave method of melting
- Freezer - Quickly cool your chocolates!
- Hot Chocolate Dispenser - Hot chocolate is a big seller, especially during cold weather
These items will definitely get you off on the right foot.
Open a Franchise
You might want to jump into a franchise chocolate shop because it probably is one of the easiest ways to start. Franchises tend to know exactly what products they want to sell and what to use to make those products. Choosing to start a franchise store doesn’t always come at a cheap price though. Start-up costs as well as royalty fees and other costs can make your overall investment add up to the hundreds of thousands. To give you an idea of some of the costs, here is a chart of the most popular franchise chocolate shops:
Open Your Own Chocolate Shop Concept
If you’re starting an original chocolate business, congratulations! You won’t have to answer to any franchise rules and instead get to make your own decisions. These decisions can be everything from how to design the inside of your store to what you plan to sell. The best way to start is to write out a business plan for your shop. Getting everything down on paper helps to really organize your thoughts and makes for a smoother decision making.
Location is key when opening up a new business. You have to pay attention to your customers! If you’re marketing your chocolate to a younger crowd, you may want to have a business location that is close to schools, parks, etc. If your business is geared to more of an upper class, gourmet crowd, it would be best to locate near high-class boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. Nestle your business into your chosen clientele’s environment and you’re sure to see sales.
Knowledge is Power
Running a chocolate business is more than just the right store location, though. Keep in mind that you and/or your staff will need to know the skills of how to make quality chocolate candy. Believe it or not, making chocolate candy can be a tricky thing. One needs to know how to properly melt chocolate without burning it, how to tell the difference between melted and burnt chocolate, how to retain the glossy shine on chocolate, and how to effectively create and trim chocolate candy.
Once you have mastered the art of working with chocolate, you can then call yourself a chocolatier. Chocolatier status can come from several different paths. Many people decide to take classes or courses to learn how to make beautiful candy. Other people become chocolatiers from experience. Decide if you would like to sign up for classes or possibly work with a mentor or an establishment so you can learn the ways of the chocolate force.
Think about the weather in your area. Is it pretty hot all year round or just in the summertime? Since chocolate is such a finicky medium to work with in the first place, you definitely have to keep temperature in mind. Most chocolate shops keep the air conditioner blowing icicles just to keep the chocolate stable. But be wary of where you store your chocolate as well.
If you can help it, do not display your chocolate creations anywhere near the sunlight and keep them refrigerated. Not only can the sunlight slightly melt your candies into a messy looking product but it can cause your chocolate to bloom. You know that white coating you sometimes see on old chocolate candy? That’s the cocoa butter separating towards the surface of the chocolate, a.k.a. blooming. No one wants to eat chocolate that looks nasty so keep your chocolate cool and protected from Mr. Sunshine.
Permits and Leasing
With any new business, you’ll need to make sure that you’ve acquired the proper permits and licenses to run your new venture. Depending on your state, county, or city, different regulations could apply. Review the Small Business Association website for more details about what is required for your business.
If you have chosen to take this path, knowing what you know now, congratulations! The farther you let your imagination go with your creations the more you’ll feel accomplished in what you do. Good luck to all of the future chocolatiers out there and remember: Don’t eat too much of your product!