On Special Assignment

Nov 8, 2012 11:42 AM by Justine Judge - KPAX News

Stevensville chocolate company thriving, growing

STEVENSVILLE - In a rough economy, you're lucky if you've got a job, and if your business is growing, then you are doing something right.

Reporter Justine Judge went off the beaten path, to the Bitterroot Valley, where a local shop combines sweets and humor to showcase a little of what Montana has to offer.

"We have orders lining up from all over the United States," Montana Chocolate Company Director of sale Robin Wright said.

A week after the launch of their new name, the chocolate business is booming in Stevensville. The little shop off the Eastside Highway, once known as Charbeneous, is now The Montana Chocolate Company.

General Manager Sheila Schiwal has been with the company since day one. Her family started the chocolate shop with her grandfather's last name 10 years ago.

"It started because we are a family of chocoholics. If you're a chocoholic, you're the best person to make chocolate because you know it tastes good," Schiwal explained.

It's a motto that's been working as the handmade chocolate has been keeping customers coming back for years.

"To be able to stay in business for 10 years in such a small town, says something," Schiwal said.

The company is only getting bigger after recently buying Duckboy, a 25 year- strong Montana company that makes postcards.

"Duckboy is most recognized by the designated driver picture. They might not understand the name Duckboy, but once you show them that designated driver picture they are like, ‘oh yes, right'," observed Schiwal.

"Duckboy is a very complimentive business for us because what we can also do is provide chocolates for Duckboy," Wright told us.

"So, we have our very beautiful gourmet side and then we have our fun novelty side and Duckboy compliments that because Duckboy is humorous, it's fun, it's ironic and it's so typically Montana. It's the non-serious Montana," she added.

It's a sweet combination made in Montana, and it's something customers are eating up, according to Wright.

"The whole idea of anything that comes from Montana, people have this amazing idea that it's majestic and it's bigger than life."

"People just have the most beautiful ideas of what Montana is and then you bring out all the best of it. You have the humor, you have fun, you have the gourmet, you have the taste," Wright pointed out.

"It's nice that we can represent all of those wonderful, fun, great things about Montana and if we can bring some business to Montana that's an exciting thing to do," she concluded.

The Montana Chocolate Company employs about 10 people, and with their growing success, they hope to be able to keep and add more jobs in the Bitterroot Valley.

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