PLATTSBURGH — LakeShore Candy's business was sweet this week as loved ones stocked up on heart-shaped treats and decadent chocolate truffles in time for the Valentine's Day holiday.
"We haven't stopped," Mike Jensen, who co-owns and operates the store with wife, Elizabeth, said Thursday afternoon. "We've been busy all day long.
"We're not even halfway through the day and some of the things I've run out of already."
The Jensens have operated the 30-year-old candy store since May 2019 out of a small Skyway Plaza storefront situated between Joe's Barber Shop and North Country Independent Medical Examiners.
One step through the door and guests will breathe in the sweet smells of chocolate, which is freshly made in the shop's backend.
The store is bursting with seasonal treats and goodies, like roses, heart-shaped lollipops and red boxes filled with assorted chocolate candies featuring centers, like cremes, jellies and nuts.
But LakeShore has year-round sweets, too, including a chocolate truffle collection with flavors like Mike's favorite, salted caramel, Elizabeth's favorite, gooey brownie, and many more, like café espresso, merlot, Irish cream, key lime, peanut butter, dark velvet and strawberry cheesecake.
Mike, 67, described Valentine's Day as the candy store's second busiest holiday, coming in just behind Christmas and just before Easter.
The three together accounted for 75 percent of LakeShore's annual sales.
Mike felt patrons shopped differently for the Feb. 14 holiday than they did for the others.
"People are a little more particular when they buy their candy for Valentine's Day," he said. "Since it is for a loved one, they tend to choose more.
"Instead of coming in and grabbing an assorted box, they'll order more specific things."
As expected, the chocolate-shaped treats were popular this time of year, but, somewhat unexpectedly, Elizabeth and Mike said chocolate covered pretzels were flying off the shelves.
"I can't make enough chocolate covered pretzels," Mike said before laughing and adding, "I don't have a conveyer belt."
Former owner Bob Sweeney taught Mike the tricks of the trade, teaching him the shop's recipes and how to temper chocolate.
"It was on-the-job training," Mike explained. "I did it for three months before I even took over doing any of it."
LakeShore is a small operation though. With his equipment, the chocolatier can only warm up six pounds of chocolate at a time and, including tempering, said it was at least a two-hour process.
To put the figure into perspective, Mike said those six pounds would make about 168 normal-sized chocolates, enough to fill six, 28-piece boxes.
At a slower time of the year, he could make chocolates during the day, while Elizabeth helped customers.
"Right now it's hard to do that," he said, adding that he would stay until around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., in addition to the store's 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, to make the chocolate at night.
'SWEETS FOR THE EAR'
Fulfilling one of Mike's life-long passions, the shop also sells a variety of new and old vinyl records.
The for-sale collection probably spans 2,000 or more, he said, nodding to the crates and boxes located around the small shop.
Asked how long he has loved albums, the store owner answered, "All my life."
"I was probably 10 years old when I bought my first (the) Beatles record," he said. "I started collecting albums back then. To me, it's just fun."
And the hobby proved useful in 2020, when COVID-19 devastated many local businesses.
"This year, without the records, we might have had to close," Mike said. "It helped to carry the rent, especially in the early months."
Selling chocolate and music side-by-side was perfect, he added.
"One of our little sayings about our store now is that we have sweets for the palate and sweets for the ear," he said.
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