BY D’ARCY EGAN
Tom Mumford was vacationing in Florida with his family a few years ago when he discovered the sweet treat that has become a major hit in the Ft. Myers area. The store manager at Bassett’s Market in Port Clinton is always on the lookout for something special to offer his customers, and Norman Love Confections fit that niche extremely well.
“I had heard about Norman Love Confections, and was anxious to visit its flagship salon in Ft. Myers, where the handmade chocolates are made,” said Mumford. “The chocolates were simply beautiful and the presentation gift boxes were very impressive.”
Mumford and family picked out a selection of chocolates, then took a trip to the Florida islands. Mumford realized he couldn’t leave the chocolates in his car, where the hot Florida sun would be a problem, so they took the distinctive bags of chocolates with them.
“As we walked the islands with a Norman Love Confections bag, everyone we bumped into saw the bag and commented about Norman Love Confections, and how wonderful they were,” said Mumford. “Everyone recognized it. It was like carrying a Tiffany bag!”
Mumford’s son, Kyle, who will be getting his degree in marketing from Northern Michigan University, immediately saw the possibilities.
“Dad,” said Kyle. “We have to sell these at Bassett’s Market!”
Norman Love, who owns Norman Love Confections, wasn’t so sure it would be a fit. He doesn’t supply grocery chains, only his own salons. It took five years, but Mumford finally talked Norman Love to fly to Port Clinton and tour Bassett’s Groceries, a unique supermarket that offers high-end beef, seafood and pastries.
Love agreed Bassett’s would be a good fit, and would supply it with his 25-flavor Signature Collection of gourmet chocolates, and select holiday flavors. First, though, Bassett’s employees had to fly to Ft. Myers for training, and install a very expensive climate-controlled display case made in Portugal.
“The chocolates have about a three-week shelf life,” said Mumford. “They have been flying off the shelves here, so that has not been a problem. In fact, we fly in more chocolates from Ft. Myers every day.”
Love takes great pride in buying the needed cacao, or chocolate, from small farms in places such as Venezuela and El Salvador.
One “gem,” or chocolate made with El Salvado cacao, has a cacao content of 97%, an extremely large concentration, that is mixed with cacao butter, the second primary ingredient. Mumford likens the flavor to the subtle nuances of a fine red wine.
Bassett’s sells a single “gem” for $1.95, and has gift packages that range from five to 50 chocolates. The presentation cases cost a little extra. There are even large chocolate high-heeled shoes that have been a local hit.
“So many of the snow birds from around here head to Florida in winter, and know well the luxury of Norman Love Confections,” said Mumford. “They know the quality, the flavor, and they’re excited to be able to buy the luxury treats at Bassett’s. I expect Norman Love Confections will be extremely popular around Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.”
Store Manager Tom Mumford takes great care to display the popular Norman Love Confections at Bassett’s Market in Port Clinton, the only Ohio outlet for the famous chocolates from Florida. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)