Smart companies know the advantages of adding a little dash of childlike nostalgia into their business plan. In fact, some companies have constructed entire business models around it. Take Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge, for example. Described as a “new place to chocolate and chitchat,” these lounges have combined the very childlike loves of great chocolate and fancy tea parties and added a grown-up spin. They’re based in Chicago area, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they started springing up elsewhere.
Madison has its own chocolate shop on State Street. Twee & Luliloo does not offer the lounge atmosphere of Ethel’s, but they have some really great candy — the old-fashioned kind you just won’t find in the candy aisle of your local grocery store — and top-notch, down-home customer service.
There is no doubt about the price appeal that big box retailers have to offer. But they’re becoming more homogenized every day, and there is a consumer shift in preference to a smaller, more personal, unique shopping experience stores such as Ethel’s and Twee & Luliloo offer. Kids are passionate about food. They savor blue ice cream and bristle at brussels sprouts with equal amounts of passion. Businesses that tap into that passionate and nostalgic spirit of childhood are finding for themselves quite a profitable niche.
Meanwhile, even though chocolate makes Kim — and every other female I know — get all mouth watery, I’m patiently waiting for a Cereality to open up shop in Madison…