Amid the gloom of Melbourne’s retailing winter, a handful of shops are savouring the sweet taste of success.
Narrow windows displaying row upon row of plump sugary treats are suddenly everywhere. They’re selling decadence packaged in teensy boxes, and people are mad for it.
Artisan chocolates and miniature cupcakes are big business ”and you can throw the macaron into that mix, too”, says Shane Hills, founder of Koko Black chocolates.
Hills’ business started in 2003 as a single shopfront in the Royal Arcade; he now has six Melbourne ”salons” and two interstate.
His best customers are women and the cold weather brings them out in their droves. ”It’s chocolate weather, I can almost sense it in the air,” he says as clouds darken outside.
Maylynn Tsoi – the brains and brawn (well, patissier) behind La Belle Miette, a specialist macaron shop in Hardware Lane that opened in January last year – has already opened a second store in Richmond. The city shop, which measures just six paces by six paces, has a single cabinet filled with 18 rows of brightly-coloured puffs of egg white, sugar and butter – more exotically known as macarons – and priced at about $2.50 a piece. ”A product like ours is a small luxury,” says Ms Tsoi. ”It is very beautiful and very luxurious but it is very affordable.”