'Our doors are still open,’ Norman Love Confections co-founder Norman Love says.
FORT MYERS — Norman Love Confections, like many other specialty retailers across the region, is adapting to the coronavirus pandemic with some parts creativity and some parts community connections.
One challenge: the company’s core products, handcrafted artisanal chocolates, what co-founder Norman Love calls “affordable luxury,” aren’t front-of-mind for most customers right now. Even with it being something of a comfort food, Love says the retail business is down. He’s had to let go of some employees. “We’ve obviously seen a lot of retailers struggle,” says Love.
One shift is he’s focusing more on ecommerce, which had been a growing segment of the company prior to the crisis. While Valentine’s Day, a big one for Norman Love Confections, came before the pandemic, two other big holidays, Easter and Mother’s Day, are in the thick of it. “We are aggressively doing discounts and free shipping,” with ecommerce,” Love says. “Things we generally don’t do this time of year.”
In addition to online, some of the retail stores now offer delivery and curb-side pickup. The company has also partnered with Crave Culinaire, a Naples personal chef concierge and event company, that recently launched a Crave Pantry service. Norman Love Confections is providing desserts in a variety of those packages.
Founded in 2001 by Norman and Mary Love, Norman Love Confections creates and distributes handcrafted artisanal chocolates from its corporate headquarters in Fort Myers. It has locations in Fort Myers, Estero and Naples, including a pastry shop and café at Whole Foods Market in Fort Myers salon. Norman Love Confections chocolates and desserts are offered on 18 Princess Cruises’ ships.
“Our retails business is down, but we are still producing a product, our doors are still open,” says Love. “We are going day by day now, but we know that this will ultimately pass.”