Small business owners in Sellinsgrove, Pennsylvania, have stumbled upon something locals simply can’t resist: chocolate.
About 30 businesses banded together for the city’s second annual “Chocolate Stroll” Saturday, April 1. The concept is simple and low cost, explains Cathi Herrold, owner of Graci’s Flowers. Each business made a chocolate concoction (her shop chose triple chocolate pudding cookies) and the Chamber of Commerce created a “passport” that listed participating businesses. As customers indulged their way throughout the community, they checked off places on their passports.
Customers who visited at least 10 businesses could enter their passport in a drawing for one of nine prizes donated by participants. Among them: a dozen cupcakes, a half hour massage and a bouquet from Graci’s.
The event also included a friendly competition between the businesses to determine who had the best treat. Customers could vote for their favorite by making a public Instagram post and using the business’s hashtag (for example: #chocolategracis). A farm-to-table restaurant, Emma’s Food for Life, won with its chocolate zucchini cake, earning the coveted trophy: an inscribed chocolate-colored pot. Herrold donated a plant to go inside it.
The stroll does wonders for foot traffic and community engagement, she said.
“We saw regular customers out for the day with their friends and family, as well as completely new faces,” Herrold said. “There was one lady who said she drives through town every day to and from work, but had never stopped. She spent the whole day exploring the town and said she would certainly visit us again.”
The year’s event drew twice as many customers as the inaugural one did and Herrold expects the number to continue to rise as the tradition becomes more ingrained.
“It’s very successful and lots of fun for customers and shop owners alike,” she said. “Of course, how could it not be? Everyone loves chocolate!”