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The Chocolate Box

Meet Allison, Owner of The Chocolate Box, a traditional sweet shop that takes you back in time.

After holidaying in Wooler for 20 years when the opportunity came up to buy The Chocolate Box Allison couldn’t pass it up, moving from Gateshead to Wooler and starting a new life for her family two years ago.

Allison's story:​

We have come to Wooler on holiday for 20 years, first camping, then we got a caravan at the campsite and for the past 6 years a lodge. Because we have holidayed in Wooler for so long, everyone already knew my son Lewis, who has complex needs but everyone in Wooler accepted and welcomed him. We all felt at ease being here in Wooler; there’s a sense of peace, community and wellbeing we didn’t feel anywhere else.

 

We’ve had the business for one year this February.  Before we took it over, it had been The Chocolate Box for 14 years and the local community were delighted when I said it was going to be The Chocolate Box for another 14 years.

 

What it’s given me, and my family is out of this world. I knew Lewis only had a year or two left at college so the idea of a little shop on the high street that me and Lewis could work in together rubber-stamped it.

 

Lewis doesn't let his developmental delay stop him from working in the shop on Friday and Saturday and the customers love him.  Half of the locals already know him from the campsite but the welcome he’s had from everyone is incredible.  It’s done so much for Lewis, advancing him in so many different ways. I used to work at the college he attends so when I got the shop, I had to break the news that I was leaving to the other students, and they were gutted but now they see Lewis working and thriving in the shop and as a role model to what they could achieve too. 

 

It’s a real family affair, my sister Mandy works in the shop too and my mother and mother-in-law in their 80s often pop in and even enjoy serving and meeting the customers. That’s the thing about the shop, it appeals to so many different generations, grandparents show their children and grandchildren “this is how we used to do it” imparting their knowledge and their stories to the younger generations. Who knew a little shop would have that sort of impact?

 

We deliberately made the sweetie jars look like an old-fashioned sweet shop, the customers pick up the jars and bring them to the counter to be weighed.  People have an experience rather than it being just a transaction.  A lot of the traditional sweets you find in the shop are from long-standing sweet companies such as Ross’s of Edinburgh who produce our very popular Edinburgh Rock and Scottish Tablet.

 

The shop has been on the High Street for many, many years in various different forms and has seen the community go through wars, storms and trouble and strife and it continues to stand strong.  I think it’s a Northumberland thing. People come to Northumberland for the fresh air and amazing night skies - for me and my husband it was for healing and calming, a sense of belonging - more than we expected or wanted. We feel blessed. We couldn’t want for more living in Wooler, having a shop makes it extra special.

It’s a real family affair, my sister Mandy works in the shop too and my mother and mother-in-law in their 80s often pop in and even enjoy serving and meeting the customers. That’s the thing about the shop, it appeals to so many different generations, grandparents show their children and grandchildren “this is how we used to do it” imparting their knowledge and their stories to the younger generations. Who knew a little shop would have that sort of impact?

Find out more about The Chocolate Box

Why should people Shop Local?

People want to shop local, after covid they know it’s a struggle for local businesses and want to support.

 

Moving was a worry, firstly would Lewis settle and if packing in my job a good thing to do in the current climate. However, I shouldn't have worried.  On meeting Lewis, people realise and understand he has special needs. People instinctively seem to slow down and give him the extra time.

 

A sweet shop is a happy place, it’s a safe place. Having Lewis in the shop compliments it, reminding us we’re all kids at heart.

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