Chocolates By Kelly Finds Its Sweet Spot
If Kelly Walker Wombold's cell phone number is in your address book as "Chocolate Lady," you may be addicted.
Yes, loyal customers have their own candy-coated hotline going directly to the source. "I'm their chocolatier on-call," she says.
Chocolates By Kelly recently moved from Church Hill to a larger space in the Arts District. The fifth-generation confectioner learned a lot about growth along the way. While her cocoa loyalists follow, she has learned each neighborhood is unique when building a new customer base.
In Church Hill, she discovered heat and chocolate only mix when you're making truffles. Kelly knows now the location of retail space is not only key but also the physical properties that affect the product. "The direct sunlight in the windows was like a magnifying glass cooking ants," she says about outgrowing her 29th St. location.
Also, with more foot traffic and everything in one place, there are no more drives to and from a production facility in Manchester.
"There’s nothing like taking a fresh chocolate that I just finished and being able to hand it to a customer and say 'you would like this,'" she says. "That’s what having retail and production in the same space allows us to do."
With production, she moved her laser engraver to the new space. Custom orders for businesses including Quirk Hotel unexpectedly now account for over 30 percent of sales. "You have to have grit and not worry if your business evolves into something different than when you started," she says.
While anyone can make chocolate, Kelly says, providing a higher level of service sets your business apart from the competition.
"I want customers to know they can ask me to make something and I’d be delighted to make it," she says. "Even when it comes to a food allergy. We have many moms able to bring their children here and pick out chocolates."
They can finally be kids in a candy store. "They didn't have that before."