Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate stands out as a small, family-owned shop nestled in the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore town of Empire near sandy Lake Michigan beaches. Its handcrafted treats promise all-natural flavors, featuring direct trade Ecuadorian chocolate and more than 30 Michigan-sourced ingredients, including Sleeping Bear Farms honey, Shetler’s Dairy, Iron Fish Distillery spirits and Northstar Organics cherries. “We take pride in offering all-natural, award-winning chocolates with no artificial flavors, corn syrup or preservatives,” says owner Jody Hayden.
A Danish woman named Mimi Wheeler, whose parents owned the store in the small village where she grew up, founded Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in 2004. Jody and DC Hayden, who purchased the business in 2013, says Wheeler “was like family to us.” Before Grocer’s Daughter, Jody owned and managed Michigan’s first 100 percent fair trade coffee roasting company and DC was a professional videographer.
Today, Grocer’s Daughter is hard to miss with its bright green paint and big windows. Inside, customers can enjoy an open view of the kitchen where the handmade sweets are always being created. Delicious treats at Grocer’s Daughter include a variety of bars, bark, chocolate covered items, drinking chocolates, fudgesicles in the summer, and more than 30 different handmade chocolate bonbons and caramels.
One unique aspect of this sweet business is that the owners actually visit Ecuador farmers to make sure the cacao beans they purchase direct (no international companies or middlemen involved) are high-quality organic and the South American workers who pick the pods and process the beans are properly treated and paid.
Planners can enjoy the sweetness of Grocer’s Daughter with custom chocolate gifts for any budget, bulk chocolates for events, custom logo chocolates and chocolate educational team-building experiences, and one-hour chocolate tastings held each week.
“For corporate gifts, we can customize labels for gift boxes. We simply need a budget per gift, an address list and a date you’d like the gift to arrive and we can create options to fit your gift-giving needs that support and celebrate the bounty of Michigan ingredients,” says Hayden. “We also offer chocolate logo medallions and bars which are a fun way to brand your company or event.”
Businesses, such as Bonobo Winery, L. Mawby Winery, Oryana Community Co-op and the State Theatre in Traverse City, have partnered with the chocolate shop.
Whether it’s for a corporate event or to satisfy a sweet tooth, Grocer’s Daughter accommodates accordingly. As Hayden puts it, “Grocer’s Daughter is for people who love chocolate.”