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Local businesses cut back on retail operations to focus more on wholesaling

Two Central Virginia businesses have shaken up the way their storefronts function in order to focus on growing their wholesale businesses.

Charlottesville-based Snowing in Space Coffee and Troy-based Red Rocker Candy recently made major changes in an effort to meet the needs of their changing businesses.

Located on West Main Street in downtown Charlottesville, the Snowing in Space Coffee Bar changed its hours last week, scaling down to three days a week. It now will be closed Monday through Thursday and be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

This will help alleviate congestion at the nitro coffee production brewery ahead of a planned expansion this year, according to Paul Dierkes, the co-founder and CEO of Snowing in Space.

“There isn’t really anywhere to meet at the warehouse where we brew the coffee," he said. “We’ve needed a space for a long time where we could meet and talk to folks, so we’ve decided to move administrative operations to the retail space.”

Dierkes said he and the other members of the administrative staff are used to setting up a laptop and working wherever they need to and will be applying many of the same principles to the space.

They are also preparing for a significant expansion — moving their 4,000-square-foot production brewery into a new 10,000-square-foot space.

Dierkes said it’s important for the company to keep its retail space to maintain community connections even as its wholesale operations continue to grow. The company started as a wholesale business, he said, but the most important part has been making coffee more accessible.

The owners and operators of Red Rocker Candy have found themselves in a similar position, but opted to close their retail space entirely in December.

Jenni Whitehead, the media manager at Red Rocker, said that as the company’s wholesale operations continued to grow, it became more difficult to manage the physical space.

“We needed more space, in particular for our shipping area, and so we had to commandeer the retail space,” she said. “We were basically splitting our resources, and so the decision was made to transition to just wholesale.”

Whitehead said the decision also was influenced by the differences in how consumers now make purchases, which each year puts more emphasis on online ordering versus retail space. As the company’s wholesale business grew and sent candy all over the country, it saw retail sales decrease.

“We expected a bit of a backlash when we announced we would be closing the store, but people have been very supportive,” Whitehead said. “We’ve had very few complaints.”

Though the storefront may be closed, Whitehead said orders placed online can still be picked up at the Troy facility, provided folks call and make an appointment ahead of time.

Red Rock Candy can be found in a swath of locations around the area, including the Blue Ridge Country Store and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport.


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