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Chocolate outlet closing after 12 years

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory closing in April

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 02, 2014 06:00 am

SHUTTING DOWN – John and Emily Smith of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in St. Albert Centre are closing their business after 12 years.
SHUTTING DOWN – John and Emily Smith of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in St. Albert Centre are closing their business after 12 years.
APRIL BARTLETT/St. Albert Gazette

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Twelve years ago, Emily and John Smith built a business out of chocolate. Now it’s melting away.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, a local mainstay for chocolate lovers, is closing on April 26. After more than a decade of churning chocolate and dipping fruit, the Smiths have decided to retire from the business.

“The retirement came as a result of the mall wanting to lease our space to someone else,” says Emily. “As far as we are told they want that space for a food vendor.”

After the Smiths lease ran out in February, management at St. Albert Centre offered to have them take over another space in the mall, John says. But the rent was higher and the numbers didn’t add up, he says, so they decided to close their shop instead.

At this time, management at the mall had no comment on what type of store will go into the location.

12 years of chocolate

The Smiths took over the business in 2001, two years after the chocolate factory officially opened in the mall.

At the time, John was an accountant and Emily was a business teacher at a school in Victoria.

She had first heard about the company years earlier when one of her students created a business plan based on them. That piqued her interest, she says. But they put the idea of running their own store on the back burner for a number of years.

“And then we went to a memorial service in town for his step-mom and stayed with friends and found the factory in the mall,” she says. “And voila, it was destiny.”

John says his wife has always had a talent for making chocolate. So when they took over the store, it became quickly evident that she would be making the chocolate figures and clusters, while he would cook the apples, the fudge and the toffee.

In their 12 years working at the store, they never tired of the sweets, he says. But they did sometimes tire of the work.

“The last week of October we make 1,000 apples for Halloween,” he says. “I get tired. My fingers are raw from turning the apples.”

John is now 65. He has a nickname, the candy man, that was given to him years ago by some of the young people in town, he says. People know them and they take great joy in working with their customers. That’s something they’ll miss, they say.

They don’t know if Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory will open another store in the city.

It’s not easy to walk away from 12 years of your life, says Emily. The couple is now considering opening another store in the city, a privately-run chocolaterie. But nothing has been decided yet, she says.

“It would be nice just to open up a chocolate store, just a regular one, just the two of us,” she says. “We certainly have a sweet set of skills.”


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