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Longtime Burnaby chocolate maker facing very different Easter during pandemic
BURNABY, B.C. -- It’s normally a busy time of year for Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.
Already, the shop belonging to the third-generation family business in Burnaby is brimming with chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs wrapped in brightly coloured foil, all ready for the holiday weekend ahead.
However, this year, things are different.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Factory’s two stores are currently closed to the public for the time being. General Manager Ellen Sigvardsen said it’s definitely quieter.
"The store would be full. People would be mingling around. People would always be bringing usually their kids, or their families in," she said.
Like many other small businesses at this time, the Factory has had to reinvent the way it serves customers to keep going. They’ve switched from focussing on walk-in traffic to curbside pickup, taking orders online and over the phone.
"We’ll pack it, pull it, process the payment, and then deliver your box or bag to your car," Sigvardsen said. Behind the scenes in the store, employees are busy either making chocolate or packaging up orders for pickup.
"Our customers have been amazing," Sigvardsen said, and added they’re grateful to people for spreading the word that they’re still open. "For having our door physically shut, it’s been good."
However, it’s hard to see what lies ahead. The Factory’s 50th anniversary is next year, but for now the business is focussed on the present.
"Taking it day by day. We’ve got Easter this weekend. We’re trying to get there, and then see what happens," Sigvardsen said. "We deal with a lot of corporations, with their logos, and unfortunately if corporations aren’t ordering chocolates, it may not be feasible to continue on during that rough time. But we will serve our customers the best we can."
In the meantime, they’re hoping to help people still find the sweetness, during a spring unlike any other.
"We want Easter to still be there for kids and families, even if grandma and grandpa might not be able to come over, at least you can still have some fun and some normalcy that it’s still Easter and still spring," Sigvardsen said.