Chocolopolis founder Lauren Adler stands outside her new storefront in the Interbay WorkLofts. Photo by Joe
Veyera
Chocolopolis founder Lauren Adler stands outside her new storefront in the Interbay WorkLofts. Photo by Joe Veyera
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Chocolopolis was pulling Lauren Adler in a bunch of different direction.

She founded the business in 2008, “right when the American craft chocolate movement was starting,” and had eventually grown to encompass four different components: Retail, online sales, events, and production. That last section proved particularly time-consuming.  

“Making our own required — in order for it to work economically — we had to start selling wholesale to other retailers, and it started to become this very large enterprise of its own, in terms of my time,” she said.

That’s one of the changes customers will notice at the store’s new home in the Interbay WorkLofts (1631 15th Ave. W., Suite 115). With no kitchen, they’re no longer making their own chocolate confections.  

“It just became clear that, checking in with myself and what do I really want to do, I want to curate, continue to build relationships with customers, educate, and get back to spending time on that,” she said.

It’s not out of the question that they’ll again make their own chocolate, but right now, Adler said the focus is on getting, “back to our roots.”

Drinking chocolate is another offering from the store’s old home on Queen Anne Avenue that Adler hopes to bring back at some point in the future, even if it didn’t make sense financially for the time being.

But for now, the main goal is to establish the new location.

Why Interbay?

For starters, Adler said, was reducing overhead.

“Traditional retail spaces are expensive with very long-term commitments,” she said, “and I think I was looking for something that would get my cost down significantly.”

And part of that is grappling with price of business in the city.

“The cost of doing business in Seattle are significant, on all fronts, it’s not any one cost driver, a lot of the cost drivers are making it difficult,” she said.

After customer surveys found that most considered the shop to be a “destination store,” that they would seek out specifically, finding a location that could draw foot traffic wasn’t as important as it may be for other retailers. Adler said that people are looking specifically for the curated collection they offer, including some bars that other outlets are unable to get because of the store’s relationship with very small producers. With that said, the customer experience took precedent.

“If they’re going to come find us, let me find a really nice environment,” she said.

Another issue, one perhaps not as important to many other businesses, was air conditioning. As a store specializing in chocolate — and making sure it doesn’t melt in the heat — climate control was key.

“There’s not a lot of space here that has good air conditioning that is not a traditional retail store,” she said.

The new location also comes with access to several common rooms at the WorkLofts, allowing the business to host events, private tastings, corporate groups, and more. That proved difficult in the old space, both spatially and logistically, with Adler handling other aspects of the business that are now on hiatus.

Events, she said, were always meant to be a bigger part of the plan.

“I have more time and energy to focus on them, and we also have the flexible space to do them,” she said.

Ultimately, the actual size of the storefront is about the same, about 1,000 square feet, compared to 1,200 in Queen Anne. But, the retail piece itself is smaller (though carrying the same selection as before), and instead of housing a kitchen, all of the office space for handling the online side of the business, and shipping, is on site. As the business expanded to include production, Adler had to move workspace to a separate location in Fremont. That’s no longer the case.

“We had to move the shipping and the office, and I was always going back and forth, so here we’ve got everything in one place.”

To learn more about Chocolopolis, go to www.chocolopolis.com. Store hours are 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.