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Store owners taste sweet success from local shoppers | News

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Store owners taste sweet success from local shoppers

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The shopping season is underway and you are urged to take your holiday cash and spend it in local stores.

It's the 2nd annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support your community and economy. And for those owners just getting started, your support is very sweet.

Expect your mouth to water when you walk into Sweet Divas Chocolates. The "divas," as they call themselves, make their own chocolates, muffins, cupcakes and ice creams with no preservatives.

"We've had a wonderful reception from the community here. There was evidently a greater need than even we anticipated for it," says Christine Herrmann, co-owner of Sweet Divas Chocolates.

Open just seven weeks, Herrmann and Jeanne Bessler are just getting a taste of what local shoppers are looking for and they're hitting the spot. As a small business, the ladies are able to cater to their customers' needs.

"We had customers come in and say to us, 'We love all the things you have, but we can't eat your cupcakes because we're vegan, can you possibly make vegan cupcakes?' Within two days, that's exactly what we did!" says Herrmann.

That flexibility is exactly what customers like Gina Brodeur are looking for. She's found a sweet spot for the divas.

"It reminds me how important I can be to a business and they're just as important to me as I am to them, so it's always great to have that moment of share," says Brodeur.

Gina only shops local because she says it's important to the city she calls home. "We have so many people here that are so diverse - young, old, retired, active, everything - and if you don't support your local community, all that goes away and you're left with only one type."

Just on one block there are four locally owned businesses and they help support each other. The Sweet Divas get spices from the Savory Spice Shop next door and one owner gets his coffee every morning from the Sweet Divas.

"That money stays here in the community unlike the chain stores which frequently mass those monies into one central location," says Herrmann. "You'll see the improvements to downtown St. Petersburg, for example, the tree lighting ceremony that occurred last night."

While local shoppers are the key ingredient to keep the divas up and running, they're also the ones that allow the ladies to enjoy sweet success.

"At a moment's notice, we can be responsive to them and, thus, they're responsive to us," says Herrmann.

Sweet Divas Chocolates is located on Beach Drive. You can learn more about the store at http://www.sweetdivaschocolates.com/index.aspx.


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