Owner Sherlock shares that his story into the chocolate business has been a unique one
VANCOUVER — When chocolate enthusiasts step into Fleur Chocolatte, they are immediately greeted with the distinctive aroma of fresh, handmade chocolates. The scent is only the beginning, though.
Taste buds are sure to rejoice when you put one of these chocolate beauties in your mouth, especially when you try some of the best sellers including flavors like almond coconut, lemon lavender, brandy raspberry, or butter pecan.
Mike Sherlock, owner of Fleur Chocolatte in Vancouver, shares that the truffles are made by hand every morning between 6 and 10 a.m. if the conditions are correct, as heat and humidity are the two main factors that are monitored closely. As soon as the conditions are ideal, he begins hand-dipping the creations.
Sherlock shares that his story into the chocolate business has been a unique one, but his passion for small business combined with the art of chocolate making has steadily grown over time.
“I retired after 30 years in the iron working business, and that retirement lasted 6 months before I started going stir crazy,’’ Sherlock says. “I had to find something to keep me busy. I always thought that owning a little coffee shop would be fun, so I went online looking for an existing shop that was available. I found this one when it was in a different location, which was a terrible location.
“I liked the set up but there was chocolate involved and I told the owner that I knew absolutely nothing about making chocolate,’’ Sherlock says. “She told me that if I bought the shop, she would stay for two months and teach me how to do it. I wish she would have stayed for six. Long story short, I bought it.”
The first few months on his own were challenging and it was apparent that he needed to move the shop to a more suitable location, which is how Fleur Chocolatte ended up in its current downtown Vancouver location. Business was still struggling after the move, but Sherlock was determined to do what he could to make the company a success.
“I started networking with other small business owners in the area,’’ he says. “That’s when things started to change, and this is extremely important. You can build a small business on your own, but it’s a lot easier when you have the input from people that have done it themselves.”
Sherlock explains that several downtown Vancouver business owners were specifically helpful in his journey, including the owners of Kiggins Theater, Evergreen Wine Cellar, and others. He explains that Pam Robertson from Evergreen Wine Cellar was particularly helpful, as she was the first to purchase truffles from Sherlock to use in her wine/chocolate pairings at her shop. Today, she still sponsors pairings at her shop and continues to serve as a business education resource for Sherlock.
In addition, Sherlock shares that his friend and right-hand helper in the shop, Renee has been an invaluable resource to helping grow his business. He also explains that a loyal customer base has helped fuel growth.
Sherlock says, “I believe that my success so far can be attributed to the locals that stop in every day for coffee in the morning and chocolate in the afternoon, for without their continued support on a daily basis I would still be struggling. I’m very grateful.”
He goes on to share, “With all of the changes taking place in the downtown area I’ve seen a lot more traffic in the shop from the Portland area — people curious about the new waterfront and interested in the local fare and brew pubs. My being the only chocolate shop in the area makes me unique and that alone is enough to draw folks in. And the fact that on the first visit, I’ll provide a complimentary piece of chocolate doesn’t hurt either.”
Future plans include researching the area for a larger location or Sherlock may consider opening a second location on the eastside of Vancouver.
Fleur Chocolate is located at 1304 Main St. in Vancouver. Visit the Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Fleurchocolatte/