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Sweet Success: Chocolate Retailer ‘Those Girls at the Market’ Expands Operations Including Downtown Saskatoon Storefront and Wholesale Operations [Feature]

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Those Girls at the Market, an organic chocolate store in Saskatoon Saskatchewan, has recently moved to its new location downtown as it needed more space to meet customer demand. 

The store produces handmade organic chocolate and has become popular in Saskatoon and throughout Canada. Its first store opened in 2019 and moved to its new location at 3332 20th street West in Saskatoon in January. Customers can find a variety of chocolates such as classic, coffee, cranberry and sea salt, mint, sugar free, and it also has sugar free options. Its first store was 240 square feet, and the new store is 2050 square feet and has expanded to include a local farmers market section. 

Julianna Tan

The store owners, Julianna Tan and Ying Tan, are health focused sisters who wanted to start a business together, and they did. After finding out the health benefits of raw chocolate, Juliana and Ying got inspired and wanted to start chocolate making.  In 2014 the chocolate making began, and in 2019 they went to chocolatier school. 

“It was a very random thing. My sister and I knew we wanted to do something together. But, when we got into chocolate making, we realized it was way more complicated than we ever imagined as it has a lot of science and chemistry. We spent 3-4 weeks in the beginning of our summer when we were opening in our little booth and self teaching ourselves everything about making chocolate,” says Julianna. 

Selling Out Fast 

Image: Those Girls at the Market

Those Girls at the Market originally started selling at the local farmers market in 2014 and to their surprise, the chocolate sold out. 

“The first day we had our booth opened we actually ended up selling out of everything we made, and we were super happy but then we realized we had to stay up all night long to be back the next day and we sold out again on Sunday and it continued which was pretty exciting for us since we went in with no expectations,” says Julianna. “By the end of the summer we had hundreds of regular customers and we couldn’t just stop and go back to regular life.” 

After graduating from her Kinesiology degree from Dalhousie University, Julianna started her career as a chocolatier and bought, along with her sister, their first retail shop which was 240 square feet. As the original store also was connected to the store The Little Market Box, a farmers market retail store Julianna co-owns with Shawnda Blacklock, the store quickly got cramped and it had to move to a new location. 

The Little Market Box 

Image: Those Girls at the Market

The Little Market Box, owned by Julianna and Blacklock, opened its doors right beside Those Girls at The Market. It was inspired to bring locally fresh food to the downtown core, something that was missing since the farmers market moved locations from downtown to an industrial area making it inaccessible. The concept of the Little Market Box is to operate as a farmers’ market, but more as a retail store. Within six months the store had over 60 local produces and now it has over 130 – something they did not expect. 

“We had no idea what to expect with our farmers market shop, we had a vision of maybe 10 producers joining us and in the long term our goal was to have 30 producers join us, but within 6 months of operating we had over 60 local producers. So, we knew this was going to be a lot bigger than what we imagined. And we quickly ran out of space, so we had to find a new and bigger location and we just moved into our new location in January of this year, so just over 6 months ago,” says Julianna. 

The new location has combined Those Girls at The Market and The Little Market Box. Products can include chocolate, bison, chicken, flowers, and anything you can think of. 

The Demand for Chocolate – Hundreds of Customers Every Week 

Image: Those Girls at the Market

Juliana said the store has several of hundreds of regular customers and during the colder months, starting in the Fall, they ship throughout Canada. 

The chocolate, which is all organic and handmade by Julianna, can take up to 48 hours to make – just for one batch. 

“When it comes to chocolate making, it depends on a few factors. What the temperature is that day, the humidity, and how much I am making. So, if I am making a small batch, I can get it done within 4-5 hours; however, for larger batches it can be up to 10 hours in the kitchen,” says Julianna. 

As for speciality products, like its Avocado Chocolate bar, it could take up to 48 hours. The store is constantly adding new special features, including a maple fudge toffee bean bark bar which will come out by the end of the summer. 

Future plans 

Juliana said the one big plan they have currently, is collaborating with other restaurants in the community on how to reduce food waste. 

“A big piece of what we are working on right now is food waste deduction, so when it comes to food it is incredible with how much food goes to waste. We are really working on how to reduce waste and as we grow, we want to really collaborate with restaurants and other producers on how to transform the food and how to preserve it,” says Julianna. 

Other plans include possibly selling their chocolate wholesale if the store does it will be within the next year or two. “As we go in time, wholesale is something we will start considering for this year or for next,” says Julianna. 

Julianna says they also enjoy connecting with their regular customers daily. 

“There is something very special about selling directly to the customer and that is a big piece of our business, is that we know a lot of our customers and they bring a lot of their friends and their family to visit us. So that personal connection to our customers is important to us,” says Julianna. 

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Article Author

Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala
Shelby Hautala, based in Toronto, is a new Journalist to Retail Insider. She has experience writing for local newspapers and also internationally for Helsinki Times while she lived in Finland. Shelby holds a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree from the University of King’s College and a Social Work degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

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