TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dorinda Vance began making chocolates in her early teenage years. In 2008 she turned her passion for chocolate into a business and opened Dorinda’s Chocolates in Truckee.
After outgrowing her 500-square-foot shop in downtown Truckee, Vance is moving her operation to Centrale Reno, a mixed-use center at 727 Riverside owned and redeveloped by Urban Investments. She’s targeting a soft opening of mid July and a grand opening for Aug. 10 for her 1,800-square foot retail and production shop.
“When the lease (in Truckee) came up, I thought I wanted to get bigger,” said Vance, a mother of four boys. “What I needed was a shipping and packing area.”
Due to the cramped Truckee quarters, Vance found it difficult to make and ship chocolates in the same day at her old location. The new facility not only provides ample space for both operations, but also a retail counter up front and room for a business office.
She’ll also be able to host classes where people can learn about the craft of chocolate-making, as well as wine pairings and coffee pairings with neighbor Mark Trujillo of The Hub Coffee Co., which uses Dorinda’s Chocolates in its mocha drinks.
“We had to limit our production times because I also needed to ship and package, which takes a lot of space,” Vance said. “You have to have room, and this is going to be a lot easier.”
Online and corporate mail-order accounts make up about 70 percent of revenue at Dorinda’s Chocolates. Sea salt caramels are her best-selling items. Once she’s in the new space, Vance plans on increasing the number of chocolate products she offers.
Vance currently employs five. Her third son, Dustin, is attending University of Nevada, Reno, and is well-versed in all aspects of the chocolate making business. He’ll oversee much of the chocolate-making and business operations at the new location.
With her youngest son Vance plans on commuting to the new location and looking for a condo to rent to avoid the drive from Truckee during inclement weather.
The move brings some apprehension. Dorinda’s Chocolates is a well-established brand in Truckee, and businesses in the small northern California town are quite familiar to catering to well-heeled Bay Area tourists. Though the Reno-Sparks market is much larger, Vance fears potential customers might balk at higher price points for her specialty chocolates.
Still, she’s come a long way from the days when she sold boxes of chocolates from the trunk of her car.
“Reno is a different community than Truckee is,” she said. “I’m glad that I have a bigger community where I have more than 300,000 (residents) draw versus Truckee. I’m really excited about getting open.”