Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Bon Bon Bon's Alexandra Clark talks about her chocolate company's big new home

Posted By on Tue, May 2, 2017 at 8:10 AM

click to enlarge Bon Bon Bon is finishing the renovation of its new space this week, and will begin production next week. - TOM PERKINS
  • Tom Perkins
  • Bon Bon Bon is finishing the renovation of its new space this week, and will begin production next week.

With a keg of beer, plenty of bons, and lots of swag, Alexandra Clark and the Bon Bon Bon crew bid farewell on Saturday to its small storefront at 2756 Evaline St. in downtown Hamtramck. The cozy 650-square-foot space is where Clark grew the company from a small shop with enough in its bank account to put a coat of paint on the wall into one of Detroit's favorite and most successful food businesses.

It's now onto a much larger space she owns just down the street at 11360 Joseph Campau. And though friends and customers keep asking if she's bummed to leave the spot where it all started, Clark says she's not feeling sentimental. In fact, she's still trying to wrap her head around the fact that she's living her dream of running a successful chocolate shop, and that it's doing so well that she needs buy a 6,000-square-foot building.

"I can't believe it worked ... it's just so crazy. There're no sad feelings. I'm more just mystified and enthusiastic," she tells MT.

So what will Bon Bon Bon do now that it has almost 10 times more space to work with? While the extra real estate affords some new opportunities, Clark's ambitions are relatively modest.

"We're not going to try to take on Godiva. I don't know what else to want. I get to make chocolates in a really neat town and operate as a real business," she says.

Later this year, the shop will open six days per week instead of just Saturdays, though there may be some opportunities to visit prior to that. An online store will go live in October, and Clark expects the space - at the very least - will allow the company to triple its output.

Beyond that, the 92-year-old downtown Hamtramck building holds a character that fits Bon Bon Bon. And the second story used to hold the Hamtramck Businessman's Club, so it's nice to see that space being put to use by one of the town's top businesswomen.

Clark also notes that she kept the building's original urinal, which she says she will be the first to use once it's operational.

Though Hamtramck doesn't hold quite the economic opportunity for a craft chocolate business that somewhere like Midtown or Ferndale might, Bon Bon Bon stayed here for what other cities can't offer - the diversity, city staff's personal touch, and highly supportive neighbors.

"I can get anything I want or need here, and if I'm feeling uninspired, then I can go into one of the small stores and see that there's a whole wide world out there and I don't know anything ... but the good neighbor part is number one," she says.

Another important component to Bon Bon Bon's success is its staff. Clark says she's thrilled to have a strong, fun group made up of 13 women and one man, and is impressed with what they managed to achieve together.

"It doesn't seem real. I'll look at the crew, which is a whole bunch of amazing hooligans and really interesting people from all different walks of life, and I'll stare at them and I can't believe that the world gives a shit about us," Clark says.

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