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Dreaming in chocolate (11/03)

By IAN ROSS Carol Montgomery opened the doors on a new store and a new life as owner of North Bay’s Nutty Chocolatier.


Carol Montgomery opened the doors on a new store and a new life as owner of North Bay’s Nutty Chocolatier.

Going from driving a forklift loading trucks at a southern Ontario auto parts plant to learning the culinary intricacies of decorating chocolates has been an easy and satisfying transition, says the first-time business owner.

Carol Montgomery relocated a Nutty Chocolatier franchise to North Bay this summer.

Learning the nuances of bookkeeping and the other challenges of running a business have “all come very easily,” says Montgomery, a mother of three grown children and a newcomer to the Gateway City.

The store is modeled after the franchise company’s six other outlets across Ontario, fashioned as a Victorian-style candy store complete with mirrors, shiny fixtures and shelves stocked with a multitude of candy, chocolate, ice cream and yogurt.

The wide assortment of chocolates and truffles are all handmade, fresh with Belgian chocolate and are delivered fresh every week from the company’s kitchen and distribution centre in Port Perry.

A native of Little Britain (near Lindsay), Montgomery got into business after losing her job as a material-handling supervisor for Tarxien, an auto parts maker for General Motors in Ajax, when the plant closed its doors a few years ago.

Montgomery stayed home for two and half years reflecting on what to do with her life.

“I was 46 years old and had worked at that plant for 27 years. It was a life-changing experience.”

With aspirations to run her own business, she answered a newspaper ad for interested franchisees for a chocolate maker and figured it might be an interesting opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted to run my own business and learn how it’s run.”

Since both daughters had attended Nipissing University, Montgomery was familiar with the city and drawn to

North Bay’s down-home feeling, especially the interlocking brick in its vibrant downtown, she says.

“You get that warm feeling when you come down here.

“I’ve always wanted to be up here. I just love North Bay. I think it’s a beautiful city and I believed I could

contribute something to the city,” says Montgomery.

Montgomery found the company receptive to granting a franchise for North Bay and she began training for a few months at the Port Perry factory store making chocolates, novelties and learning the ropes of the business.

She spent about $250,000 refurbishing a Main Street storefront, near the Capitol Centre, which was previously used as a fireplace and clothing store.

Montgomery employs seven people, including her daughter Virginia who co-manages the store.

The Main Street store opened downtown Aug. 1 with much fanfare and curious customers during the August

Civic Holiday weekend.