THE CHOCOLATE VAULT - GOLD MINE
Vault proves to be a gold mine in
J. Appea - News Staff Reporter
A Tecumseh institution, The Chocolate Vault
offers patrons a chance to savor home-made
raspberry cremes, amaretto truffles and double
And that's just the beginning.
Since husband-wife team Jim and Barb McCann
opened the Chocolate Vault in 1985, the shop's
popularity has drawn customers coming
everywhere from Toledo to Windsor.
Locals, who are regulars, also support the
store, Barb McCann said.
Large corporations commission Chocolate Vault
staffers to make end-of-the-year chocolate
gifts. Kids in Harry Potter book clubs
request custom-made chocolate frogs for the
The shop's name was inspired by several
community banks that the building housed in
the 19th century and early 20th century.
And the 110-116 W. Chicago Blvd. address has
seen a number of other shops and businesses
open and fold in its 150-year history, Barb
McCann said. Doctors treated patients in
the building, insurance companies did
business, and postal clerks sold stamps.
The McCanns also previously operated cake
decorating, candy shop and bridal-service
businesses from the 1970s to the early 1980s
at the same address. But the couple
decided to convert to an all-chocolate
business by the '80s to simplify everyday
Focusing on selling chocolate and ice cream
was the natural next step for them, said Barb
It's the kind of store that makes Tecumseh a
destination, said Cindy R. Helinksi, economic
development director of the city.
The store gets visited by regulars who must
have their weekly truffles or turtles or a
pound of mixed chocolates for their relative,
said Jim McCann. And the staff are glad
to oblige with the requests they get for
unusual or specialized chocolate molds orders.
The McCanns have filled orders for 500
chocolate train engines, 1,000 post
office boxes, 500 boxes of chocolate with
chocolates inside (with the company logo on
top of the box) Even a chocolate
brain. The Chocolate Vault will do it
Despite the old-fashioned community feel to
the store, most of the Chocolate Vault's
business flows from the Internet, said Barb
McCann. Since the Chocolate Vault went
on line in September 1998, the majority of the
Chocolate Vault's customers haven't even met
the McCanns or sipped on a coffee or ice cream
shake in the old-fashioned seating room there.
"Fifty-five percent of the candy business
is from the Internet," Jim McCann said.
According to Jim McCann, the Chocolate Vault's
candy sales total in 1999 was up by 13.1
percent as compared with the previous
year. Breaking the numbers down, local
sales in 1999 went up by .25 percent, while
Web sales went up by 42.5 percent.
Most days are long, said Barb McCann, who
routinely works 14 hours a day, 7 days a
week. With a few staffers on board at
the shop, Barb McCann works a full day on the
Web and Jim McCann juggles orders for special
occasions like Valentine's Day, working the
counter and acting as the technical support.
"We like what we do" Jim McCann