Nestled away on North Court Street, in the same building as Verizon and Peking Express, sits the quaint local sweet shop called O’Chocolate.
O’Chocolate prides itself on specialty items like truffles and chocolate bars and customers have the opportunity to taste and also purchase 15 varieties of truffles and five different types of chocolate bars.
Stacy Peters not only owns this establishment but makes by hand all the products with two other employees. She is a self-taught chocolate maker, which is a high precision and incredibly meticulous process. She started out by making chocolates for friends and family before moving on to selling them at the Farmers Market.
Most importantly, she goes the extra mile to ensure that most of the ingredients are local. She insists on sourcing most of her essential ingredients right here from Athens. Ingredients such as locally extracted lavender and locally distilled whisky are used to make some of her truffles. Apart from ingredients, she also makes to get local artists to design the art that goes on the chocolate bars, which will be on sale in Athens and Columbus.
Despite the fact that purchasing local ingredients increases costs, she insists on doing it anyways.
“Sure, the costs go up but I’m not in it to make it millions,” says Peters.
What’s most important to Peters is giving back to the local community and ensuring the highest quality of ingredients.
Sustainability is a major part of O’ Chocolate from the ingredients being locally sourced to biodegradable wrappers. Peters also hires people from the Athens community rather than purchasing large machinery to supplement manpower.
Peters also started the Few Miles Market project which brings local products from around Athens to O’ Chocolate which allows them to be easily obtained. Now customers can obtain local products like Silver Bridge coffee, Shagbark Seed & Mill Co. tortilla chips and Herbal Sage tea right from Court Street. O’ Chocolate also carries other local products like t-shirts, fashion accessories, cups, fruits, vegetables and tofu.
The response to the establishment of O’ Chocolate has been extremely overwhelming especially during special occasions like Valentine’s Day. O’ Chocolate also caters to many OU events, the OU Inn, as well as OU Credit Union.
On top of that, Peters has also been offered to have her line of chocolate bars sold at Krogers but she has declined. Peters reiterates that she is not in it to make millions and wants to keep it a specialty item.
Jim Harris, the freelance marketer for O’ Chocolate says that it is exciting to watch what O’ Chocolate stands for.
“O’ Chocolate is still local – still do-it-yourself,” says Harris.
Harris states that it conveys the quality Athens is capable of producing and adds “it is the best chocolate people have ever had.”
When asked what she would suggest to up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Peters said the most important thing is to have “guts to network.”
“Don’t be afraid to network and ask for questions,” Peters said.
The O’ Chocolate website eloquently sums up the motto of the establishment. “We are changing the way chocolate is sourced, created and enjoyed. Each line of chocolate emphasizes the use of local/seasonal ingredients as well as Fair Trade/Organic chocolate.”