Thank you for all the suggestions! Keep them coming! It builds confidence to see how people’s ideas stack up.
We tend to looks at historic areas because they are smaller spaces with charm, and usually good walking traffic because of it. We are also looking for something within a reasonable distance to our Pioneer Square kitchen. Let’s whittle down the list to hone in on what is most popular and best fit:
First Pass: Logistically Difficult
The further the store is away from the home base kitchen and admin office, the more difficult it will be to maintain a good customer experience. Staff will be harder to train and product will be harder to keep stocked up. These are fun locations; perhaps further down the road… So we’ll remove the following suggestions from the list for these reasons:
- Birmingham, AL
- Portsmouth, NH
- Rome, Italy
- Norwalk, CT
Second Pass: Similar Areas
Let’s group suggestions into categories to see if there are clear standouts. We have grouped suggestions into 3 buckets:
- East Side (with parking)
- Seattle Area
- Kent Station
- Lake City
- Lake Forest Park
- Mill Creek
- Queen Anne
- University Village
- West Seattle
- White Center
- Columbia City
- New Cities
It is so difficult to choose, but the focus and attention must be concentrated in some fashion. Here are our top contenders after soliciting everyone’s feedback.
We admit to a lack of knowledge about neighborhoods and cities east of Lake Washington, however Woodinville is the one exception. For the first 7 years of the business we spent most of our time out at Woodinville wineries (Silver Lake first, then Woodhouse, then Davenport) pairing chocolate with wine. There is a lot of complimentary appeal between chocolate and wine. So for Eastside considerations, it makes sense to focus our attention on Woodinville. Per your feedback, though, it should definitely come with ample parking!
Seattle Area: Belltown, West Seattle, Columbia City
Belltown is near Pike Place Market, which is an obvious appeal. There is year round tourism, an active business and residential community, and some location prestige. However, it comes with quite a bit of competition. There are already 5 chocolate shops present in or around the market. Rent here is high, but not unreasonable.
West Seattle has the junction, which is always hopping. It’s a commercial area that seems to be served well by the residents that live in West Seattle, with a blend of walking traffic supported by fairly easy parking.
Columbia City is a new consideration for us. The area has changed so much in the past few years. There is a nice historic strip along Rainer that looks appealing with some smaller retail options available. I think this area will require some further research.
Bordering Cities: Tacoma
There are some beautiful historic areas in Tacoma, and the rent is very reasonable. We haven’t built up a lot of recognition in Tacoma, so it will be important for us to find a smaller space with good “walkability” and charm near commercial districts. That appears most likely along Pacific Ave and Commerce Street, with some historic areas along 6th Avenue.
Thank you for all the suggestions! I’ll follow up with some comparisons so you can see what is going into our consideration process. Please chime in if you see something awesome.