Darien’s Chocolate Works to close this month
The coronavirus pandemic has hit many small businesses hard, especially those who support parties and entertainment, like Darien’s Chocolate Works.
In April, owner Meredith Scheine talked about the impact of slowing foot traffic, social distancing and having to close in-store shopping had on her business.
She said at the time following the Easter rush, with late spring and summer normally slow, she wasn’t sure what the future would hold for the business she opened with her husband Greg in 2015.
Last week, in a video posted on the store’s Facebook page, Scheine announced the store would be closing.
“I didn’t want to just put a picture up. I feel like all throughout corona, I came to talk to you. I haven’t talked to you for a while,” she said. In the video, she said the business is still making fresh products and chocolate until it closes at the end of October.
She asked residents to support them until they close, as well as “come say goodbye and share a favorite memory.”
“We opened this store to be a family friendly chocolate and candy store and to make people happy. And I hope we did that,” Scheine said.
Scheine said a big impact on her business was the limit to in-person gatherings, meaning her party room hasn’t reopened since February.
“And if I did have parties, they’d be small parties, not big ones. It just wasn’t going to happen,” she said.
Despite the decision to close, Scheine said she and her husband are still working hard, and recently produced an order for a breast cancer fundraiser in Stamford.
Scheine credited the community for allowing the couple to put off the decision to close as long as they have. But with the summer being slow for sales and schools back in session, Scheine said they could no longer sustain it.
In addition to selling out what inventory they have, Scheine said she has sold the store’s equipment. Everything in the store is for sale, including its whimsical artwork and tables and chairs, if residents want a keepsake.
Throughout October, Chocolate Works will still be offering candy, pints of ice cream, custom gifts, chocolate making kits, and virtual party kits.
Darien Chamber of Commerce President and Executive Director Susan Cator said Chocolate Works “quickly became a part of the Darien community.”
“Meredith and Greg Scheine and their wonderful employees created a spot where people of all ages could enjoy a very memorable outing with the chocolate fountain, custom chocolate gifts and parties,” Cator said.
Cator said their generosity abounded with support of the many Darien community fundraisers and the Darien Chamber events.
“We will so miss having Chocolate Works at Sidewalk Sales and our other events in town. We hope all in the Darien community will stop in, support the Scheine’s until they finally close the door and wish them well,” Cator said.
First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said “Meredith and Greg Scheine have provided delicious treats and a fun, unique party gathering spot for their Chocolate Works customers. More important, they have become beloved members of the Darien community.”
“Small, family-owned businesses have struggled mightily during the pandemic, especially those who count on in-person sales and indoor gatherings. While state loan programs and local tax deferrals were offered and accepted, they haven’t been enough to keep some businesses afloat,” she said.
“We will miss Chocolate Works Darien and the kindness and generosity Meredith and Greg have shown our town,” Stevenson said.
Scheine said the outpouring of love from the community following the announcement the store was closing has been inspirational and touching.
“I will miss being here, and making them smile,” Scheine said.