Cleveland area chocolatiers: Chocolate is essential for baskets and business

Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -No bunny wants an Easter basket without molded chocolate bunnies, and local chocolate makers are working to make sure that children’s baskets aren’t as empty as their shops are right now.

“Easter is usually three weeks of pretty steady business,” said Emily Bean, owner of Mitchell’s Fine Chocolates in Cleveland Heights.

The shop has been in business for 81 years, making traditional chocolate bunnies, nougat eggs, marshmallow eggs, and cream eggs for traditional Easter celebrations.

“For us it really sets us up with a good financial nest egg to get us through the summer, which are traditionally our slower months when people aren’t eating a lot of melty chocolates,” she said.

When Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine shut down restaurants, then issued the shelter in place order, Bean knew she had to scale back production.

“I had to make the tough decision this year to not do cream eggs and marshmallow eggs. It just didn’t make sense to allocate the resources to something like that when I really didn’t know how we were going to recoup that kind of money. I really didn’t know what was going to happen in the coming weeks,” she said.

She says it was hard to disappoint her customers who called looking for those traditional favorites.

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At Fear’s Confections in Lakewood they’re only making what’s been ordered, fulfilling and shipping orders.

“It’s empty here. We’re literally making to order,” said owner, Cassandra Fear.

Easter has not traditionally a big money maker for them, but this year has been different.

“We do OK, and it gets a little better every year. This might be our busiest Easter we’ve ever had. We physically can’t keep up,” she said.

She says they’re doing enough online business to pay their rent and their bills.

“I think people don’t want to see us go away, which is nice. People are having us ship stuff a block away,” Fear said.

Fear’s Confections has been shipping their products for ten years, so having this infrastructure already in place has helped.

“I think It’s bringing product to light that people didn’t know we had, services that people didn’t know we had,” she said.

Bean says they’re doing online ordering, and offering local delivery for free, $5 delivery for expanded zip codes and some pick-up for people in the neighborhood.

She is encouraged that their inventory is going down.

“We used to do probably $20,000 or so the week leading up to Easter. And luckily, right now...our online sales are at about $20,000 since April first,” said Bean.

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