Sweet shop woos locals

Whenever Deborah D. Hinton and her mother traveled, they made it a point to be on the lookout for little chocolate shops. They loved checking out the different shops and tasting the various chocolates each had to offer.

So when Hinton decided she needed something to occupy her time after her early retirement, she thought what better to do than open her own chocolate store in Bowling Green.

The five-year-old business, which Hinton’s mother helps run, is located in Woodland Mall. It offers about 10 different brands of chocolates that were hand-selected from the nation’s best suppliers with the help of Hinton’s family and friends.

“When we first opened, I got online and did some research on it,” Hinton said. “I found the very best chocolatiers and asked for samples from these companies. We distributed them to family and friends and made them all try and discern and write down what they liked. So, that is how we decided to pick the chocolate we picked.”

And they didn’t just choose the typical, run-of-the-mill chocolates. They picked mainly Belgium chocolate, which can’t be found anywhere else around Bowling Green.

Kim Ringler, assistant manager at Alyssa Lee’s, recognizes the uniqueness of their products.

“We offer something that none of the other stores offer in the area,” Ringler said. “Basically, we are the only ones there are that carry these kinds of truffles. I’m not sure I can think of even one other store that carries them.”

The truffles, which are the store’s top sellers, run at $1.75 to $2.25 per piece, and customers can mix and match for themselves right out of the case.

“The truffles we have are just beautiful to look at,” Ringler said. “The designs on them are amazing and they’re just delicious.”

The employees expect the truffles to do especially well for the upcoming Valentine’s Day. They are beginning to prepare for the holiday, which marks one of their biggest days of the year in sales.

“Valentine’s Day is pretty much a two-day rush and then its over,” Hinton said. “People don’t shop ahead of time like they do for Christmas, but the actual holiday is definitely one of our busiest days.”

They are getting in the traditional heart boxes in different sizes, varieties and price ranges for their customers.

But the employees have come to realize through the years that people want to pick out their own chocolates for their special somebody.

The store has special ordered their candy boxes in red to read “Happy Valentine’s Day.” They have also ordered different sizes of the traditional heart-shaped boxes to arrive empty so customers can choose which chocolates to put in the specially-designed boxes.

And for somebody having trouble figuring out what to purchase, the employees are willing to lend their advice.

“If it’s a woman, I definitely say go for a heart full of Lake Champlain truffles or boxed truffles,” Hinton said. “If it’s for a man, I would say the Joseph Schmidt truffles.”

Aside from truffles, Alyssa Lee’s offers toffees, buckeyes, chocolate covered pretzels, caramels, several different types of barks, Heavenly Hash – which is chocolate with marshmallows and nuts – and some of the other traditional candies and cremes that chocolate shops traditionally sell.

But for customers lacking a sweet-tooth, the store also has a wide variety of gift sets. They sell fine crystal, gourmet food items, pet products, rhythm clocks and Good Home Company products, which have appeared on Oprah’s Favorite Things show.

“We started on the basis of chocolate, but we kind of built a gift line around it,” Hinton said. “It’s a good mix.”