Sugar fix shop to shut

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 11:21 16/01/2013
Melissa Rae
Scott Hammond

Sweet nothings: Blenheim Chocolate Shoppe owner Melissa Rae is closing her shop because sales are not matching the overheads of its new high-profile site on the corner of High and Market streets.

Melissa Rae
Emma Allen
Melissa Rae with her gingerbread creation for the Marlborough Hospice Christmas tour

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Blenheim's Chocolate Shoppe owner Melissa Rae has made the bittersweet decision to close her doors after 10 years in business.

The self-confessed sweet tooth has been supplying Marlburians with their sugar fix since she bought the shop after moving to Blenheim in 2002.

But the cost of running the business grew after relocating last year, and the increased overheads had not been balanced with sales, she said.

"I've really enjoyed the cake decorating classes and working with the kids, but the shop needed more sales.

"Making the decision to close has been the worst bit. I feel like I'm letting my customers down."

The business was in the former Centre Point Mall in High St for nine years before Mrs Rae relocated to the high-profile corner of High and Market streets a year ago.

The Chocolate Shoppe was one of many businesses asked to relocate by their landlord, who was refurbishing the mall for anchor tenant Farmers.

Mrs Rae, a mother of three, diversified her range of treats and specialised bakingware with cake and cookie decorating workshops, but it was not enough to cover costs.

Instead of signing a three-year lease and waiting for trade to improve, she had decided to move on.

"I just can't see [business] getting better any time soon," she said.

Her toughest year in business was last year. The best was 2011, when most other Marlborough businesses were feeling the pinch of the wine industry woes from 2008.

Mrs Rae runs the shop with one part-timer. She is unsure what her next move will be when she closes the shop at the end of next month.

"Apart from being sad for my customers, I'm really excited about this next phase in my life," she said. "But I'm going to have a month-long holiday in March before deciding what to do next."

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- The Marlborough Express

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