Stepping into the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is a true Willy Wonka experience.
The sights, colours and smells hit you first, and even those who don’t have a sweet tooth will be seduced by the experience.
Shelves are stacked high with chocolate treats, warm liquid caramel is being churned ready to make toffee popcorn, and punnets of ice cream are waiting to be scooped.
Martin and Marliyn Brock opened the business on Second Avenue in Fernie eight years ago after deciding they wanted to work for themselves.
Martin had been working as a mechanic and Marilyn was an accountant.
“We knew we wanted to run a business, and we just liked the fact that Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory encourages us to experiment, be creative and actually make a lot of the products right here in store.”
Many of the ingredients, including milk, butter, apples and sugar, are bought from local stores.
“We try to shop locally. Even the stuff that comes from head office is only coming from Burnaby, so we feel good about that.”
Martin gets sent blocks of high quality chocolate from Guitard, the largest chocolate producer in the world, and then uses a chocolate tempering machine to melt it down and use it to create all kinds of different confections.
One of Martin’s own creations became a hit with all the head office, and is now stocked in 54 stores across Canada.
“I thought it would be neat to make s’mores,” said Martin. “So we had a go and they turned out great!”
He said some of the most popular new treats are maple walnut toffee pop and fancy dipped pretzels. The biggest selling items are caramel apples.
Most of the confections for sale in the store are made right there, in the shop.
“I would say about 85 per cent of what we sell here has been made in store, from scratch,” said Martin.
“The great thing about that is we can make small batches, so everything is fresh. It’s also great because people can see us at work, it’s entertaining for them to see us making it. And it’s also very creative and satisfying for me.”
Martin’s favourite sweet to make is fudge.
“Fudge is great because you just start with these ingredients that are really basic, but when you have combined them and cooked them, it turns into something really cool!”
Martin also prides himself of the staff’s customer service, which has won awards.
“This is fine chocolate we are selling, so everything needs to be the best quality, including the customer service,” he said.
Since opening in September 2003, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Fernie has sold
•7,000 lbs of fudge
•16,000 lbs rocky pop
•25,000 slices of cheesecake
•10,000 lbs of chocolate