Marc Lieberman, who owns Vancouver's Mink Chocolates, has a very good problem. He's not only completely sold out of his award-winning Mermaid's Choice chocolate bar, he's sold out of all the chocolate in both of his stores, period.
"This weekend was like nothing I've ever seen in business," he tells the Straight in a phone interview from his 863 West Hastings Street store on Monday (September 8). "There's not a stitch of chocolate left in my store. If you walked in, you would see a barren wasteland of empty shelves."
Lieberman says that's all due to a media firestorm that started Thursday (September 4). A press release went out announcing that the judges at the 2014 International Chocolate Salon in San Francisco had declared Mink’s Mermaid’s Choice Top Chocolate Bar among worldwide competitors. The ganache-filled bar, which is flavoured with burnt caramel, fleur de sel, and rosemary, also won gold medals for best ingredient combinations and best texture.
Although Lieberman won the award in July and says that his regular customers were already aware of it, the weekend media coverage brought in lines of people clamouring to try the product. Once the Mermaid's Choice sold out, they went for whatever they could get their hands on. "Our sales went nuts," he says. Even once all the chocolate was sold, "people wouldn't take no for an answer."
Since all the bars are handmade, it will be Wednesday (September 10) before he can get more on the shelves. "I hate disappointing people," Lieberman says. "But it takes three days to make a chocolate bar. I can't just press a button on a widget."
From now on, Mink will be making them as fast as they can. He advises people to call the stores in advance of coming in to check on supply. The stores will be stocked before online sales resume. (A Mermaid's Choice bar costs $6.25 for 50 grams.)
Fear not, however: while the shelves may be bare of chocolate bars, there is still some chocolate on offer at Mink.
The café part of the store, which sells espresso beverages, is still operating at full speed. It serves chocolate-based drinks made from the pure chocolate ganache made in-store, as well as chocolate fondue, Belgian waffles, and other treats.
And once the bars are back, shoppers who purchase them before September 30 will get an entry form and a shot at winning $1,000 in Mink's contest, which it launched to celebrate its big win.