Naples’ own Willy Wonka has a bigger and better factory for her chocolate sweets.
Laurie Rose, owner of Olde Naples Chocolate, has moved her shop from Third Street South to 945 Fifth Ave. N., and customers looking to soothe a sweet tooth should expect her to be open in the new location in mid-October.
Olde Naples Chocolate had been on Third Street South for 27 years, but since Rose bought the shop about four years ago, her business model has shifted from relying on walk-in traffic to focusing on online sales, she said.
With about 80 percent of her business coming from online orders, it just didn’t make sense to pay premium rent for a retail space with a small kitchen on Third Street South, Rose said. The rent is lower on Fifth Avenue North and although the space is actually smaller, the kitchen is much bigger.
When customers step into the new shop, they will be greeted by a long gold-trimmed glass case filled with chocolates of all shapes and types.
On Friday morning, dark chocolate starfish in bags with a bit of raw sugar “sand” rested in a basket on the bottom shelf. Milk chocolate alligators wrapped in green foil sat near a bin of marbled white chocolate and milk chocolate sea shells.
Florida-themed chocolates are her biggest sellers, including her “Flamingo Droppings,” which are nonpariels with pink sprinkles.
The pink sprinkles for those nonpariels, along with white ones for “Pelican Poop” and green ones for “Golf Divots,” are neatly stacked in plastic containers in the back room of the shop, which will be the chocolate factory.
On one wall, five rows of shelves starting at the ceiling are packed with plastic chocolate molds, about 100 pounds of sprinkles, cream fillings, nuts, decorative toppings and more.
Soon, she will move the refrigerator and the chocolate tempering machines, which heat and cool the chocolate to give it the perfect texture and gloss. She’s just waiting for building permits to finish the kitchen.
“The new store looks completely different,” Rose said. “My customers are going to be shocked when they walk in, but I think they’ll like it. It’s more of a boutique shop.”
A lot of her customers are “destination” shoppers, and they’ve told her they’re excited that she’s moving to the antique and retail shopping district between U.S. 41 and Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples, Rose said.
Her customers range from the Ritz-Carlton and businesses in need of corporate gifts to brides planning beach weddings and husbands looking for a Valentine’s Day treat.
And although Rose didn’t have any chocolate-making experience when she bought the shop, she dived right into the chocolate-making process and has grown the business about 10 percent a year, she said.
“I love chocolate. I love baking,” she said. “It’s so much fun. Everyone who works here, we all love our jobs.”
And does she eat a lot of chocolate?
“Just a little dark chocolate,” she said, smiling, “Every day.”