|Mielke Confections to Open Second Shop in Historic Stockbridge|
|By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff |
04:06AM / Monday, October 04, 2021
|Steven and Trent Kinney, seen in this provided photo, are expanding their Mielke Confections candy and chocolate business to Stockbridge. They plan to open a retail shop on Main Street early in the new year. |
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Mielke Confections is opening a shop on Main Street to make the historic strip "sweeter."
Owners Steven and Trent Kinney decided to expand the Great Barrington candy operation when a storefront on the street that was famously captured by painter Norman Rockwell in "Home For Christmas" became available.
"Locations on that strip for commercial space don't become available very frequently, businesses that are there have been there for 30 years or more," Steven Kinney explained. "So when that opportunity came up, because we knew we wanted to expand at some point, this was really the best time for us to do it."
They will be settled in between the town library and general store in a structure known as the 7 Arts Building. Mielke Confections is leasing a space on the first floor that was formerly occupied by Wheeler and Taylor real estate and insurance company.
The owners are working with Berkshire Contractors to design an interior that fits the historic nature of the Main Street.
Kinney said the new storefront window will feature a custom chocolate fountain designed by a local glassblower.
Product-wise, the offerings will be similar to those available in the Great Barrington store. The owners hope to keep the motif of historic Stockbridge in their selections.
Mielke Confections offers handmade unique sweets as well as the classics. The menu includes a chocolate truffle with Lenox's Millbrook Sugarhouse maple syrup inside, a giant chocolate gummy bear filled with real gummy bears, and caramel Honeycrisp apples from Windy Hill Farm in Great Barrington.
Over the summer, they worked with a local lavender farm to make chocolates that incorporate the fragrant plant.
Kinney said that with the new store in Stockbridge, he hopes to continue cooperating with other nearby businesses.
The grand opening of the new location is staged to occur at the beginning of next year.
The Kinneys have 16 combined years of Army service. They served during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq as Apache helicopter pilots.
The couple moved back to the Berkshires, where Steven grew up, to raise their daughter.
They purchased the former Catherine's Chocolates more than two years ago to continue the tradition of a family-owned business. The original store was named for the grandmother of the former owner, Kathy Sinico, and operated for 40 years under that name.
The Kinneys will continue making the products in the original location at 260 Stockbridge Road but the new location will be only a retail store.
"We've mostly maintained the same 40-year-old recipes, we've expanded on some flavors, including adding some Ruby chocolate candies, which is kind of like a fourth type of chocolate, and we've seen a lot of success with that kind of stuff," Kinney said.
"What we're hoping to do here, is the prior owner also had multiple locations as well, they were all serviced out of the same production facility in Great Barrington, so there's a lot of capacity there that we can use to open up just a retail location so not production, but just retail locations, and that's what this will be."
The name Mielke was Trent's last name, which he changed when they married, and its pronunciation sounds similar to "milky." Kinney said this makes for a great chocolate shop name.
Since taking over the business, the two have enjoyed being a part of the Berkshire business community and working with other local entrepreneurs and businesses to introduce their products into chocolate.
Kinney said the pandemic did put a strain on operations in the first year but they were fortunate to have a lot of support from the surrounding community.
"In the Great Barrington store, especially, a lot of our customers are repeat customers coming there with the expectation of the same product that they've been getting for many years," he said. "And a lot of them are local."
They believe it is important to support and grow the community and with this expansion hope to do so in Stockbridge as well.
Mielke Confections is currently hiring, as they need a couple more hands for the new location.