Local chocolatiers and candy makers are gearing up for one of their busiest holidays next week and despite some small supply chain shortages, they hope to have everything ready in time to provide Collingwood with sweet treats for their sweeties.
Crave The Chocolatier at 62 Hurontario St., opened in 2015.
“I’ve always loved to bake and I was self-taught for chocolate,” said owner Sheri Gabriele. “My husband wanted to open a candy store, so it’s all his fault.”
Gabriele specializes in nostalgic and hard-to-find candy and only creates confections with Callebaut Belgian chocolate.
A current noteworthy trend she notices are smash boxes which include chocolate shells in different shapes filled with candy or chocolate.
“They’re basically an edible piñata,” she said.
Her best-sellers are chocolate dipped brownies and butter tarts. As some of Gabriele’s creations can take hours to create, she says she sometimes finds it rewarding to step back and admire her finished products.
“What makes me stand out from the others is my attention to detail,” she said. “Quality from start to finish.”
She says her products leading up to Valentine’s Day will vary, but she will be carrying Valentine-themed smash boxes and heart-shaped lollipops.
Down the road, The Candy Factory, located at 645 Hurontario St., has been owned by Joe Matanowitsch and his wife Mary Dale since 1986.
The business was originally opened in 1974 by Richard Brown.
“I worked at Blue Mountain Pottery for about 18 years. It was closing. We could see Collingwood had more of a future in tourism,” said Matanowitsch. “I knew nothing about making candy or chocolate.”
Matanowitsch says he learned the ropes from other local candy makers, and over the years has picked up skills. He and his son Darren manage the store.
“We’ve learned and we help other people now,” he said, noting that he also acts as a distributor for other candy stores in the area.
Currently, The Candy Factory specializes in moulded chocolate, baskets and boxes of assorted chocolates which are made in-store. Peanut brittle and sponge toffee are also notable sellers, as are vintage-style novelty candy such as jujubes, lollypops and Pixy Styks.
“I should be retired now, but it’s rewarding to come in everyday. We get a lot of repeat customers,” said Matanowitsch. Throughout the pandemic, he says he has had difficulty getting enough chocolate due to supply shortages to fulfill orders for about 400,000 pounds of chocolate annually.
He says the chocolates themselves are his best sellers. In addition to their regular offerings, the store also offers sugar-free or dairy-free varieties.
Matanowitsch’s store sets itself apart from other candy stores as the manufacturing process is included in the design of the store. Patrons can see candy being made through a viewing room as they wait on their confections.
This Valentine’s Day, Matanowitsch says he’ll be bringing back chocolate-dipped strawberries, although he notes the strawberries have also been impacted by supply shortages this year.
“Our last two trips to our supplier – they ran out. Even if we have to go to the local grocery stores and clean them out, we’ll have some chocolate-dipped strawberries,” he said, with a laugh.