— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
The year-end holidays are over and we are in a new year, 2010. So first of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! Next, thanks to all of our loyal friends and coworkers who made 2009 a great year even with some severe financial challenges that have and continue to face our great nation.
So many of our great customers came back to support us by continuing to give Choclatique Chocolate to their friends and families and at the same time spread the gospel of Choclatique to many new customers who had never previously heard of us.
Our best selling assortment remains our Build-A-Box feature. This allows customers to enter the website and click and drag their favorite flavors into an 8-, 15- or 30-piece box.
I remember when I asked my partner to program this feature on our website. Joan and our web master worked for weeks to iron out all of the problems and have it properly interface with our shopping cart program. As difficult as that was the biggest challenge remains fulfilling the Build-A-Box orders that come in with over 150 flavors of chocolate from which to choose.
We now are finding that technology has advanced to the point that we will be able to make upgrades and changes to the site to make it even easier to use and more fun to play in. Budgets will be adjusted to allow Joan and our web consultants to spend most of the first quarter upgrading the website.
Dave did a great job keeping all the orders straight and making sure all of those special messages were correctly written and most importantly, put on the right box before they were finally packaged up to go. Dave also monitors the weather to make sure if a package is scheduled to go to a warmer climate it is properly insulated and cushioned with cold packs.
All of our heart-of-the-house co-workers (Wayne, Karen, Pedro, Victor, Joan and Calvin) scurry from 7am until 3pm daily making sure that every single order is logged, correctly pulled and sent out promptly at 5PM nightly as Manuel is driving up in his trademarked UPS truck.
Every one of our co-workers realizes that in many cases we are not just selling chocolate, but memories. What would Aunt Betty think if she didn’t get her favorite box of chocolate on her 70th birthday? Coming a day late just wouldn’t do. It was a bit challenging this year with all of the snow storms affecting the midwest and east coast. I only know of one order that didn’t make to its destination on time, and although we are not responsible for the weather (sometimes it’s challenging enough to be responsible for the chocolate), we bent over backwards to help make that customer feel a little better.
Our number one selling flavor remains Bubbly—Champagne Truffles made with Dom Perignon Champagne. It is followed closely by Blue Ribbon Cherry Pie, Hot, Hot Cocoa and Root Beer Float. The 4 top selling assortments for the holiday were Decadent Desserts, Box of Bubbly, Holidays and Elephant—Seriously Strong Chocolate.
We also developed 3 new products that garnered raves from both the media, and most importantly, our customers who bought them. These new confections included Peanut Brittle Bites (the only confection we make that doesn’t have chocolate), Chocolate-Covered Peanut Brittle Bites (Milk Chocolate) and Chocolate Almond Butter Toffee Bites (Dark Chocolate). Each are packed in a one pound ballotin box and priced to help those who are watching their budgets. One Monday alone we made, packaged and sent out over 200 boxes of these new products.
The week before Christmas I received an advance from my publisher, Running Press, for my new chocolate cookbook, Ed Engoron’s Choclatique. You will be hearing a lot more about it this year as we get ready to get it in print and out on bookshelves. But just for the moment, a special thanks to my New York literary agents, Jane and Miriam, who believed in the project and made it happen, as well as Mary and Joan, my writing buddies.
And now to all of you who have been reading and commenting on this blog since it began—thanks for making 2009 a great year for Choclatique.