Amarah’s Chocolate Company adds flavor to marketplace
Jan. 26, 2012
By Steven Frank
Ann Sikora recalled how, when her husband died two years ago and she was incapacitated a short time afterward following knee replacement surgery, Angela and David Emerson helped out with errands such as grocery shopping.
“They are the kindest people, just lovely, and I don’t use that term easily,” said Sikora, a Williston resident.
For the Emersons, that “sweet” service is an extension of the service they’ve been offering area consumers since 2003. That’s when the husband and wife team opened up a candy/gift store at the Taft Corners Shopping Center in Williston — renaming it after their then 8-year-old daughter, Amarah, in 2006.
The inventory at Amarah’s Chocolate Company includes 72 kinds of chocolate-covered cordials, seemingly endless walls of candy and a glass display case packed with assorted chocolate delectables.
“We have the largest (retail) selection of sweets in Chittenden County, probably in Vermont. And we can say that with confidence,” said Angela Emerson, also has an 18-year-old son, Jared.
Dave Emerson added: “We’re actually more of a gift store than a treat store. We have so many gift items.”
In a marketplace that has seen one specialty candy shop recently close at the University Mall in South Burlington and another (Sweet Tooth’s Candy and Gifts) that’s planning to shut its doors in Waterbury at the end of February, Amarah’s is surviving and thriving off an assortment of strategies.
A few years ago, noticing that business was slower in the warmer months, the Emersons began offering hand-dipped ice cream, sundaes and shakes. In 2007, they launched a customer reward program. This year, they began a buy more, save more program. There is also a new 16-by-4-foot wooden display featuring 79 varieties of gummy candy.
Where did these initiatives come from?
“We listen to our customers,” said Angela Emerson, who also sells sugar items that she handcrafts. “We do what they ask us to do. We carry what they buy.”
A large amount of that feedback is generated through the company’s Facebook page, which is updated several times a week. Recent postings on Amarah’s Facebook wall feature pictures of its Valentine’s Day items including a chocolate rose root (a pretzel stem covered with milk chocolate and caramel), a bouquet of dark chocolate roses, a chocolate-covered swan and a cut glass chocolate foil heart box filled with artisan heart truffles.
“If you don’t change with the times, you sink the ship,” Amanda Emerson said of social networking.
The Emersons also interact with customers through a free newsletter that’s e-mailed. Customers can sign up for the newsletter through Amarah’s website.
Sikora is one of those newsletter recipients.
“They are very astute to how the business world is changing,” said Sikora, who buys dark chocolate at Amarah’s for her son-in-law (a dentist) and treats for her 11 grandchildren. “If things aren’t selling, something will change. I remember when they put in ice cream. They know how to keep improving.”
According to Angela Emerson, however, 2012 won’t be a year of significant change.
“This is the first year where we don’t feel we have to make a change. Right now, it’s just about letting people know what we have,” she said. “We’re not going to be buying Bentleys anytime soon but (our business) is doing fine.”
Amarah’s Chocolate Company can be found online at www.amarahschocolatecompany.com and www.facebook.com/Amarahs. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Amarah’s is also open Sundays, beginning three weeks prior to major holidays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.