Meet Your Merchant: Dorinda’s Chocolates aims to be local’s favorite
TRUCKEE, Calif, andamp;#8212; How to make something better. It’s a task humans have faced for millennia andamp;#8212; meticulously, tirelessly and at times inadvertently finding themselves striving for. It is a task that escapes so many, but it is a task that does not escape Dorinda Vance.At the age of 12, Vance found a simple solution to making things better: Just add chocolate.Vance, owner of the newly opened Dorinda’s Chocolates in downtown Truckee, has big plans to unleash this philosophy via an armada of chocolate covered cherries, her artillery of peanut butter bombs and with caravans of her award-winning sea salt caramels andamp;#8212; top ranked at the 2010 Tahoe SAFE Alliance Chocolate, Wine and Rose Festival for andamp;#8220;Outstanding Original Taste.andamp;#8221;Locals and tourists alike, Vance said, have been flowing into her shop, saying they miss the books (the Book andamp; Bean Coffee Shop used to reside there) but are happy her chocolate caf still provides many of the same amenities such as coffee, tea, pastries and free wireless Internet.andamp;#8220;I have had quite a few people coming in and looking for the books, with a little disappointment there, but I try to give them some chocolate and spread the fun,andamp;#8221; Vance said.That fun couldn’t be expressed more vividly, especially in the little shop’s candy section, filled with vibrant gummy worms, jars of golden Lemon Heads and exotic Whirly Pops (lollipops the size of mini-windmills).andamp;#8220;We had to bring in some color for the kids,andamp;#8221; Vance said.And the this is only the beginning. Vance said her chocolates have already been picked up by Whole Foods Market and she hopes to expand her distribution across the basin, as well as considering to offer products at a few of the ski resorts and other Tahoe confectionery outlets.Vance said she studied chocolate in Chicago at Barry Callebaut, a chocolate school, and intends to infuse her shop with as much chocolate science as possible, from her latest creamy creations to serving up shots of French drinking chocolate andamp;#8212; raw chocolate shavings and cream whisked together into a rich drinkable blend.Gradually she said she has begun noticing small success, little by little, as customers have begun to return to the store. As she’s been able to watch her sales grow, chocolate sells more now than coffee.Dave Ward, a repeat customer, said he’ll typically come to Dorinda’s at least two times a week for chocolate or coffee. andamp;#8220;You get to meet the owner right off the bat and she is very friendly. You get to know what’s going into the chocolate (the chocolate handmade in front of customers) with all of its the good ingredients,andamp;#8221; Ward said. andamp;#8220;It’s something homemade, with good stuff, and there are no secrets.andamp;#8221;Ward’s favorite item? The lemon truffles.Despite initial successes, Vance understands her shop will require a long-term effort and great dedication; however, she said she’s grateful she has had her family andamp;#8212; Truckee residents for the past 13 years andamp;#8212; to depend on.A mother of four boys, Vance said she and her husband andamp;#8212; and the kids andamp;#8212; have put a lot of time into the new business.Her boys take turns with barista duties, and they helped to design her logo while her husband, a carpenter, worked on some of the remodeling for the shop, Vance said.andamp;#8220;They contribute a lot, they really do,andamp;#8221; she said. andamp;#8220;I contribute the most, of course, being the owner, but it’s really a family thing.andamp;#8221;andamp;#8212; If you know of a local business that is new to the Truckee/Tahoe community or one that’s been here for years and has a great story to tell, contact Sierra Sun editor Kevin MacMillan at email@example.com.