April 2013 Newsletter

Dan Donoghue

Hi Everyone,

This letter is going to be very difficult to write this year. After all the years we have been making chocolate, beginning in our basement kitchen, we are going to be changing a lot about how we work. Before I even begin I want to send out a big thank you to all our loyal customers. Some of you have been buying chocolate from us since the 80’s at the Dane Co. Farmer’s Market. We have seen many of you come in to treat yourselves to a few (or many!) pieces of chocolate. Some of you have been sharing our chocolate with your families at holiday times for many years. Many of you have brought your children in for a special treat, and we have been privileged to watch them grow. Some of these children have grown up and brought children of their own into the shop. Some of you buy boxes for your businesses to reward loyal clients and employees. We value each and every one of you. Again, we can’t thank you enough for being here with us. Also, a special thank you to all our friends and family for all you have done.

For the past few years we have been thinking about how to slow down. Both of us have been getting tired by the end of our busy season. Since we will both be 68 soon, it was time to begin making some decisions. We debated for a long time before coming up with a plan. It was difficult to choose between our two differing needs – to still be there for all of you which we love to do, or to slow down as we need to do for our aging bodies!

Our decision became clear as we looked at our options. What we decided to do is to continue part time only making a limited amount of chocolate for several of our larger customers. It will also allow us to anticipate exact needs for chocolate and keep control of our work hours and inventory. It will reduce a lot of the stress we have felt over the past year or so. Because, financially, we have to continue working for the next few years, it seemed the most logical option.

However, this means that we will be closing our door to the retail part of our business beginning this October 12th. You can still get chocolate for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All you have to do is fill out a form and send it in to us by July 1. All the details are on the enclosed form, at the shop or on our web site.

Over the next year or two we will begin making plans for our business. If all goes well we will find someone who will buy The Chocolate Caper and begin to open to the public once again. We will try to find someone to carry on the traditions and yet put their own creativity to work. Meanwhile, we will open our door occasionally while we are working. If we have a taste or two, you can have a nibble and say hello. You will be welcomed.

Now that the difficult part is over, we want to add a few thoughts. As we wrote in November, one of the most difficult things that happened is our loss of our 10 ½ year old dog, Bogart. It was sudden and unexpected. We are both still sad. On the good side, my mother/mother-in-law will be 91 soon. She still is very active and walks everywhere – even on the treadmill if it’s icy or snowing! She still reminds us of Moscow’s snowy winters as a Foreign Service wife.

With the changes in our work life, we will have opportunities to do things that are important to us such as getting another dog – soon! Ellen is looking forward to another dragon boating season and doing more with TEAMSurvivor-Madison, and is also looking forward to volunteering more often with Breast Cancer Recovery helping with retreats for women who have had breast cancer.

We are looking forward to seeing everyone soon – if not at the shop then at the grocery store, library or coffee shop. Again, we send a huge thank you to everyone who has helped all these years. You have made yourselves part of our lives.

We want to thank a few people personally for helping us along the way – first the Bergey family from Bergey Jewelry store. Since the first day we moved to downtown Oregon, they have been very supportive especially during the first years when we struggled to get going. We are also very thankful to Scott MacWilliams who made it possible for us to stay on the same block when we had to move. It turned out that the move was one of the best things that happened to us! Both the Bergeys and MacWilliams have become friends and have included us in their family gatherings.

If we began thanking all the businesses and individuals who have purchased chocolate over the years, we would be like the Oscar winners who try thank everyone in the room, and are stopped by the music! However, we have to acknowledge a few names individually. Epic Systems of Verona has been buying our chocolate ever since Judy Faulkner found us at the Farmer’s Market in Madison. They made it possible for us to survive. We also want to thank Doug Johnson of Johnson Law Offices of Evansville. Doug and Claude have had fun with politics for years. And then there is Bill Wartmann of Edgerton, a kind gentleman with wonderful sense of humor about himself and the world.

With great affection,

Ellen & Claude

P.S. from Claude

I knew this day was coming, and it’s not as easy as I thought. How do I sum up my life at The Chocolate Caper? Here it goes… twenty years from now somewhere, someplace, a parent will say to his or her child “I remember a little chocolate shop in Oregon. The couple who owned it made wonderful chocolate. We could always come in and get a free taste.” That is enough for me. Thanks for the memories.

The Chocolate Caper
105 S. Main Street
Oregon, WI 53575

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