As Valentine’s Day approaches, heart-shaped candy boxes and gifts on store shelves become increasingly abundant. The holiday, as commercial as it can be, gives businesses a seasonal opportunity to market their products to please romantics and anyone with a sweet tooth.
In Bellingham, Washington, Fairhaven’s sold-out second annual chocolate walk on Saturday, Feb. 11 offers an alternative way to celebrate the holiday.
The Fairhaven Association hosts events to highlight small businesses and build community. The upcoming chocolate walk will feature 18 participating local businesses from northwest Washington. Although registration is closed, adult participants will get to enjoy samples offered by the participating businesses and the option of port or sparkling wine with prior purchase.
In an email with Fairhaven Association Executive Director Heather Carter, she brought up the importance of building community by supporting local businesses.
The event was mutually beneficial for both local businesses and community members last year, so Carter decided to bring it back.
“The concept is a great fit for Fairhaven,” Carter said.
According to the International Cocoa Organization’s Cocoa Market Report, chocolate sales in London and New York in the week of Feb. 11, 2022 sharply increased over the rest of the month's sales. Though chocolate has been culturally loved for centuries, some stores choose fine crafting over commercializing their chocolate.
Fairhaven’s Evolve Chocolate and Cafe stands out with its fine, intricately crafted chocolates and pastries. Chef Christy Fox, co-founder and owner of Evolve, has 32 years of experience in the restaurant industry.
Fox and her wife opened the cafe in 2012, inspired by regional influences to create unique flavor profiles.
“[It started] as a love affair between us and the beautiful bounty that Washington had to share with us,” Fox said in an email.
As for making the chocolate, Fox said she and employees spend hours intentionally rolling the pieces and using the finest organic ingredients provided by Theo Chocolate in Seattle, Washington.
Though the chocolate walk is catered largely towards couples, it can also be a Valentine’s Day event or for those who simply love chocolate.
“We have an amazing group of volunteers that are proud to show off our little corner of the city,” Carter said.
The participating businesses and restaurants will have guaranteed exposure from attendees because of the accessible product marketing ensured by the event.
The chocolate walk and other community-organized events help to bring in new visitors, welcome back long-time friends, support shopping local and emphasize that we can do more when we work together, Carter said.
The sweet treats and enjoyable atmosphere are the keys to building connections between customers and vendors.
“Events like this help shine a light on local business[es],” Carter said.
Imogene Eagan (she/her) is a city news reporter for The Front this winter quarter. She is a third-year visual journalism pre-major. She loves spending time at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, whether it be working at the front desk or weight lifting. She likes to spend her time outside of school by taking photos of Western’s athletic teams, collecting house plants and exploring the city with friends.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.