So the answer to the question of whats happening on the square is finally here. Soon Spencer Tennessee will be home to the producers of fine chocolate. The Chamber welcomes Arete to Van Buren county and is looking forward to our new neighbors. (Hopefully there will be samples :)…
Wow. Where do we start with this one? There are some big, big changes coming for Areté over the next six months. Some of you know, and some of you may not know, that Leslie is Arete’s one and only fulltime employee. I have a full-time-plus day job, so I’ve been a weekend and occasional evening warrior helping out as much as I could. In about four months, though, after 36 years in the electronics business, I’ll be retiring from the W-2 world and joining Leslie as a full-time craft chocolate maker. Terrifying? Yep – a bit –wonderfully so! ; )
Along with that big move, there’s another big move coming for Areté. Literally – a big move. At the end of April we’ll be moving us and our factory to Spencer, Tennessee. We found a beautiful 110 year old building (known locally as “The Haston Block Building”) that we’re in the process of renovating and getting ready to be a chocolate factory. We’ll live on the second floor and work on the first floor. We couldn’t be more excited.
While the outside is beautiful, some of the inside was…well…110 years old. And in need of some serious love. We tore out the old wood floor and rotted joists on the first floor several months ago, then in early November brought in 200 tons of gravel, and in mid-December poured concrete. We still have a LOT to get done with the building between now and the end of April (interior walls, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drop ceiling, and lighting), and somewhere in there we have to pack up both the our current factory and our house and move it all most of the way across the country. We’ll wind down manufacturing in our Milpitas factory in the beginning of March, and hope to be back up and making chocolate in Spencer by May. We’ll do our best to build up inventory before March so that we can continue to ship through March and into April.
As to the “why” behind all of this, there are three main reasons. First is that most of our family lives east of the Mississippi. The move will put us within comfortable(-ish) driving distance. Second, our current factory doesn’t have heating, air conditioning, or humidity control which poses some serious chocolate making challenges. We’ve learned to work around those challenges by controlling the most sensitive processes and using space heaters, portable/wall air conditioners, and de-humidifiers in some critical areas, but it’s not ideal. In our new building each room will have its own independent temperature control, and the whole building will have humidity control. Ahhhhhhhh…. The third reason is that it’s just a LOT less expensive to live and run a small business in Tennessee than it is in Silicon Valley. We love the Bay Area and northern California generally, but it would be years (if ever) before we could make a go of it here as full-time chocolate makers. [Arete Fine Chocolate Blog]