Meet A Merchant: KC Chocolatier
A Sweet Tooth for KC Chocolatier
KC Chocolatier | 545 W. Diversey
A day in the life of a chocolatier sounds delightfully delicious and not everyone gets to live out such sweet and scrumptious dreams, but for Karin Lovelady, owner of Chicago’s KC Chocolatier retail location at 545 W. Diversey, she’s living the dream. Karin mentioned that her mother would say that she opened a chocolate shop because it was a “manifestation of her childhood dream.” While this may be a simplified explanation, Karin has always loved chocolate and merely wanted to share her love of the best chocolate that she could find. This is what led her to open KC Chocolatier on Diversey in Lincoln Park.
Although Karin was not originally planning to open her chocolate shop in Lincoln Park, as fate would have it, she happened to pass by the vacant retail shop on Diversey one day and fell in love with it. Karin had recently completed her research on Belgian chocolate makers and had decided on KC Chocolatier not just for the taste and quality of the chocolate – which were of the utmost importance – but also because of the company culture and its green and sustainable efforts. For all of these reasons (and perhaps more) Karin eagerly opened her shop on Diversey Parkway in December of 2011.
The location really spoke to Karin, because not only is the shop near the heavily trafficked intersection of Diversey, Clark, and Broadway, it is also near many of the high rises along Lakeview and Sheridan, providing access to neighbors and nearby residents. That “residential-neighborhood” feel was so important to Karin, because she looks at her clients as visitors who she can build a relationship with and have return. Similar to Steve Quick, Karin noted the important role neighbors have to help local businesses thrive. In order for KC Chocolatier and the neighboring businesses to succeed, people must frequent those businesses and remember to shop, dine, and celebrate local. Karin works closely with a lot of her neighboring business owners to create unique opportunities for visitors to the corridor. One such example is on Thursday, February 16, KC Chocolatier is partnering with TeaGschwendner for a chocolate and tea pairing event. There’s so much diversity along Clark Street and Diversey Parkway, that it’s easy for neighbors to find something that fits their lifestyle!
With Valentine’s Day approaching, many businesses along the corridor are prepping for a busy week ahead, especially KC Chocolatier! Heart shaped boxes of chocolates fill the shelves, the aroma of hot cocoa fills the air, and Karin has several pop-up shops planned across the city to share the experience of KC chocolates. As one of the only Valentine’s Day chocolate destinations in the area, the shop sees a lot of traffic around this time of year, but Karin keeps everything in perspective. She powers forward, providing her consistently delicious products, while still giving other businesses a chance to represent themselves in her store, including Black Dog Gelato and Scooter’s Ice Cream. At the end of the day, what keeps her going is seeing folks leave her shop with a big smile, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or a random Wednesday afternoon in June. “Chocolate is a drug, it animates the brain,” Karin said, noting how easy it is to make people happy while running a chocolate shop. However, this sweet-toothed writer certainly thinks it has more to do with the generous and thoughtful service you receive from the moment you walk in the door.
While Karin and her small staff are kept busy, when she does get away from the shop she enjoys supporting her local restaurants, grabbing a bite at Del Seoul, Jinya Ramen, or Captain’s Catch. Not to mention, Karin is a huge “trekky” and Scrabble buff. In fact on the last Sunday of every month KC Chocolatier hosts a Scrabble day, inviting neighbors and game lovers of all shapes and sizes to come out and play in a sweet and friendly atmosphere.
We get that chocolate might not be everyone’s favorite, but Chicago’s KC Chocolatier is a warm and inviting shop that warrants a visit. Whether intending to grab a cup of hot cocoa (or coffee) or to buy an assorted variety of Belgian truffles, swing by 545 W. Diversey and say “Hello” to the lovely and friendly Karin Lovelady!
Written and posted by Bryan Biello, February 2017