Written and submitted by Steven Fuller.
I am a chocoholic. Not the kind who has to have chocolate every day but the kind who CANNOT pass up a mom and pop shop, a candy store, or a local chocolatier EVER. Never, ever, ever. From Shanghai to Kansas City I stop at them all, and I compare them. Chips Chocolate Factory, located in the heart of Kansas City at Crown Center has become a “must stop” for me and mine.
This is probably why I should not follow @chipschcltfctry on Twitter. My friends all know that my family and I hang out at Crown Center a lot. Coming in to town? Probably the first place I take you, especially if you have kids. So inevitably I will be sitting downstairs at Crown Center having a coffee, or taking the kids to one of the exhibits and I will get a delicious message. Something scrumptious, tantalizing, and irresistible. Something handmade, an image that pulls you in, a delight that makes me stand up from a meeting on the 1st floor and take my client to the second floor…for chocolate.
Last week I randomly tweeted that I would be taking some kids from the Kansas City School District to Crown Center for dinner, chocolate, and ice skating. Later that day I got a tweet from @chipschcltfctry telling me the name of the shift lead that night, and she would take care of us. We first stopped downstairs for a quick dinner at Mac’s Wraps (more on them another time!) and to let the kids checkout the Under the Sea Adventure exhibit. After much running around we went upstairs to take in the chocolate.
First things first. People are always standing in or around Chips Chocolate Factory. You never know what is going on. Sometimes they are making chocolate, sometimes school kids are getting a presentation, but the display is always excellent, the candy is fresh, and the smell is divine.
After speaking with Erin, the kids all picked out one thing. This took about 20 minutes while the kids wandered around the store squealing at everything they saw, and drooling over all of the confections. Now, these kids had never even been to Crown Center let alone had fresh chocolate candy. Their candy knowledge is limited to the dregs at the convenience store, or in the grocers line. Before we made it to the counter we had 3 orders for chocolate covered marshmallows, 1 milk chocolate and almond cluster, 1 chocolate covered Twinkie, 1 chocolate coconut ball, 3 orders of bark, and one HUGE “dirt” (chocolate cup, crushed cookie, and gummy worms). One kid had to be pried off of the dipped apple cabinet.
You have never seen a more ecstatic group of kids. Later I would find out that the youngest of the boys (he ordered the “dirt”) only took two bites of his candy, which was the biggest of all the orders. He took the rest home to his five siblings because they had never had anything like it before.
As a professional fundraiser I negotiate sponsorships and donations every day. One of the things I have learned is that the longevity of a business is often times reflected in whether or not they have a heart in their communities. In their 28th year the people at Chips Chocolate Factory have shown that they give to the community that loves them, and even those who never knew they existed. Those that are driven to do, generally do more. You can see this at local businesses like The Roasterie, The Art of Pizza, and Chips Chocolate Factory. They already own my taste buds, but now they own a small personal place in the hearts of myself, my family, and two young boys who enjoyed their chocolate treats for the first time. Quality memories, created with a quality product and a service minded heart.
Owner Mike Herman and I do not know each other in real life, yet, but let me tell you something that makes him a great business owner. He is involved with his community. Through the many school tours that he brings through his business, to the way he reaches out to people like myself. He shows it daily. I hear the stories from the kids and teachers who come to his shop. I have siblings at two schools who have taken kids on tours there, and it is by far the highlight of the year.
With the new aquarium on its way, Crown Center is again poised to become a focal point for Missouri tourism in Kansas City. My suggestion: get to know the goodies at Chips Chocolate Factory now, and follow them on Twitter for their latest creations. When it comes time for your family trip to downtown KC you will know just where to go, and just what you want, for a guilt free sweet tooth.
After all, what’s better than supporting local businesses that support their own communities?