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Annie Dobben had been running a small but successful business for several years when she had a crazy idea – what if she dipped one of her famous buttertarts in chocolate?
The answer was immediate. People would flock to her shop – Annie’s Chocolates – to gobble them up.
At the time, she was operating in Hanover and Walkerton. But four years ago, she and husband Bert moved the business to Arva, 10 minutes north of London. Then, in the fall of 2014, they moved to a larger location, still in Arva. With the extra space, they were able to expand their entire line of handmade chocolates, fudge, smoothies, and, most importantly, their famous buttertarts.
“We now have 11 varieties of buttertarts, available plain or dipped in chocolate,” Annie says. “The newest is sea salt, but our No. 1 seller is chocolate pecan.”
The dipped tarts are $3 a piece, but no one buys a single. Most opt for a box of half a dozen, which allows them to mix and match the flavours. Besides pecan, other popular options include Skor, raspberry, raisin and coconut.
Christmas is the biggest time of the year at Annie’s. The store looks like a festive wonderland. Besides the wide assortment of chocolates, there’s also a selection of coffee for those who like to sip and browse. In the summer, the store has soft-serve ice cream.
Bert is the chief chocolate maker and crafts all products at the Arva store. Everything available in Arva is also available at a second location, in dow ntown London. It’s on Richmond Street, next to David’s Bistro, so the two stores are actually on the same street, some 9 kilometres apart.kilometres apart.ntown London. It’s on Richmond Street, next to David’s Bistro, so the two stores are actually on the same street, some 9 kilometres apart.kilometres apart.
The London store is run by the couple’s eldest daughter, Aly.
Next to buttertarts, the most popular item is the line of smoothie chocolates. Everything is handmade, using Dutch chocolate, which has a richer flavour.flavour.
Annie’s creates made-to-order gift baskets year-round. “We have a lot of corporate orders this time of year,” she says. “We can put something together for you or you can choose exactly what you want to give.”
Not long after the couple and their handful of employees catch their breath after the Christmas season, they will gear up for Valentine’s, another big chocolate event. “Then comes Easter,” Annie says, smiling. “People love chocolate, year-round.”
Fans of the stores follow along with ‘Annie’s Chocolates’ on Facebook, an active page with plenty of information and updates.
The long awaited BRAND NEW Invest in Middlesex is now live! We are very excited to debut this new site! We invite you to tour the site to see all the new highlights including links to our new video series, online maps, sector profiles and featured investors.
Take some time to browse the Middlesex County business directory – a simple to use and free listing available to all Middlesex based businesses.
We hope you love the site as much as we do. Happy Browsing!
They lined up early, excited to be taking part in a local holiday tradition. On the second last Thursday of November, hundreds of shoppers purchased $100,000 worth of Strathroy Downtown Dollars.
“They sold out in record time,” said Jenny Dortmans, chair of the promotions committee for the town’s Business Improvement Area, and manager of Poag Jewellers. “They went on sale at the Royal Bank, starting at 9:30 that morning and were sold out by 6:00 that night.”
It’s the 18th year the BIA has run the program. It subsidizes 15 percent of the cost of the Dollars, so shoppers get a full dollar of value for every 85 cents they spend. The Dollars are accepted at more than 75 downtown Strathroy locations until the end of the year.
“The vast majority of downtown retailers participate in the program,” Dortmans said. “You can get almost anything with the Dollars.”
There’s a limit of $250 per person, which ensures that hundreds of local shoppers can take advantage of the program; the biggest run by the BIA every year.
“It’s a huge promotion,” said Shannon Churchill, general manager of the Strathroy and District Chamber of Commerce. The $15,000 BIA expenditure guarantees $85,000 worth of spending in the downtown during the Christmas shopping season.
Some retailers offer additional deals and discounts for shoppers using Downtown Dollars.
Nearly all the Dollars are redeemed each year by the deadline. “It’s 95% or above,” Dortmans said. “A few might go through the washing machine, but people buy them and plan to use them.”
Join the Economic Development department at the EDCO Conference February 4, 2016, to celebrate our nomination to the EDCO Awards of Excellence. To view a sample of the business profile videos that have been recognized as a finalist in the awards, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9PAtaaprTk
With more than $1.2-billion in annual impact, agriculture is the cornerstone of the Middlesex County economy. The sector employs nearly 8,000 people who earn nearly $300-million in salaries every year.
And because agriculture is central to the County’s economy, the area is home to the full gamut of agriculture businesses and services. Beyond the 2,352 farms, Middlesex is home to numerous top-quality food producers. It’s also a centre of excellence for farm science and innovation, together with technical expertise required to run an efficient ag business.centre of excellence for farm science and innovation, together with technical expertise required to run an efficient ag business.
“More than a quarter of our businesses in Middlesex County are farms,” says Cara Finn, Middlesex Director of Economic Development. “The local Agri-Food Industry alone generates some 1.2 billion in related economic activity.”Agri-Food Industry alone generates some 1.2 billion in related economic activity.”
With a skilled, educated workforce, world-class research facilities, low taxes and a convenient location to reach markets across North America, Middlesex County is the ideal choice for agriculture businesses of all kinds.
The area’s many advantages are outlined in more depth in an article in the most recent edition of Perspective Agriculture http://www.perspective.ca/publication/2015/8/25/2015%20Agri%20Food/index.html20Agri%20Food/index.html
Middlesex County Council invites farm operators and agriculturally related businesses to participate in an Agricultural Forum to be held at the Middlesex County Administration Building at 399 Ridout St. North in London from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m. on February 11, 2016. This co-operative session is being hosted by Middlesex County's Economic Development department in partnership with the Elgin Middlesex Oxford Workforce Planning and Development Board. The interactive forum will allow agriculturally-invested stakeholders from across the County the opportunity to provide input to senior decision-makers on key issues affecting agri-business in Middlesex County.
To register, please contact the County's Economic Development department via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 519-434-7321 extension 2251
EmployerOneEmployerOne is an annual local survey of employers in Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford counties and the City of London (EMO region). The survey asks questions about each employer's current workforce, hiring trends and workforce needs. By filling out the survey, a detailed analysis of both current and projected industry trends can be provided; helping to better inform the community about the overall status of the local labour market. The survey is confidential, and is applicable for businesses big and small.
Middlesex County encourages all of our local employers, including community partner agencies AND businesses, to have a say in shaping the future of our workforce. The survey will be available January 2 to 31, 2016 by visiting http://fclmpb.fluidsurveys.com/s/2016EmployerOne/.
Check out the great spread on Invest in Middlesex County on pages 26-29 in the newest edition of Business in Focus magazine.
Accessing Resources to Tap into Immigrant Talent
- Fill skill shortages by sourcing the region’s hidden workforce.
- Navigate an employer resource fair through interactive workplace recruitment and retention simulations.
- Network with business leaders and community organizations.
- Get connected with no-cost tools to support your business.
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
7:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
LOCATIONMiddlesex County Administration Offices 399 Ridout St. North, Middlesex Room London, Ontario
Hot breakfast will be provided.
Space is limited. Register early.
RSVP to - rsvp@LMIEC.ca