Countdown to Chocolate Walk

By on August 10, 2016

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New Wilbur store will be open in eight weeks

By Stephen Seeber

Construction fencing went up last week, work on the new chocolate store began Monday, and the plan for selling Wilbur Buds at 45 N. Broad St. in time for the Lititz Chocolate Walk Oct. 8 is on schedule.

An estimated 130,000 people visit the Wilbur Chocolate Candy Americana Museum & Candy Store each year, according to Amy Weik, retail channel lead for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. Cargill’s pending sale of the factory complex at 48 N. Broad St. prompted the retail store’s move to the the former Freeze & Frizz drive-in at 45 N. Broad St., owned by Bomberger Partners, right across the street.

The vacant building that most recently served burgers, barbecue and ice cream will be transformed into a chocolate specialty store and museum over the next eight weeks. During that time, Wilbur’s current retail store will remain open, operating the way it always has.

“It’s business as usual,” Weik said. “The store will be open until we open the doors of the new location.”

An architectural drawing of the new store’s facade was released this week, and it appears some of the current store’s iconic character will be crossing the street as well.

“I am thrilled with the new facade,” Kelly Withum, executive director of Venture Lititz, said. “It fits the aesthetics of our downtown, and I’m very happy that they’re going to retain the Wilbur banner. We are ecstatic that not only are they staying in our downtown, but they are also improving our downtown.”

Cargill has hired two local firms to do the work on the new store. Beers + Hoffman, 55 N. Water St., is the architect; and Pusey & Raffensperger Builders, 100 Front St., is the general contractor.

The candy store’s entire crew of 20 full- and part-time employees will be making the move across the street, and the new store will feature the current product line and operate with the same business hours. The biggest difference between the old and new stores will be visual.

“We’re working hard to parlay as much of what we have there now over to the new location,” Weik said. “It’s just a new location, a different type of space. We’re really excited about the new location.”

Some of the improvements for shoppers will be an open floor plan, an additional checkout area, and no stairs.

It will be a busy two months, but meeting the Oct. 8 target is essential as Chocolate Walk kicks off the store’s busiest time of the year. Sales are strongest during the holiday season that runs from October through December. Weik said Easter and the Rotary Craft Show (this weekend) are also business times for the store.

Withum referred to the Wilbur store and Sturgis Pretzel House as anchor attractions for tourism, an industry crucial to the downtown’s economic success.

While the future owner of the chocolate factory complex at 48 N. Broad St. remains a mystery, the the future of the town’s beloved chocolate store, candy kitchen and museum does not.

Stephen Seeber is the associate editor of the Record Express. He welcomes reader comments and questions at sseeber.eph@lnpnews.com.

One Comment

  1. barb nickel

    August 10, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    What is being done with the old store and why move it?

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