After almost two years of business in Gig Harbor, Trop’s Chocolates will close May 27.
Owners Larry and Heather Trop, who run the business with their two children — Emily, 18, and Spencer, 15 — said that the decision to close the store was emotional for the family, but was ultimately a financial necessity.
“We did not have enough business, basically. It’s just not enough to keep us going,” Larry, 67, said. “It didn’t quite work. We put everything into it.”
The family opened the store July 11, 2015, in Gig Harbor. This was the second store opening for Larry and Heather, who opened a store in 1986 at South Coast Plaza Mall in Orange County, California, and were in business for 12 years.
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While regular customers remained loyal and business bustled during holidays, everyday business was not enough to sustain the store, Larry said.
“This (area) has gotten quieter. There’s just not as many people coming through,” he said. “It’s just a struggle. We just can’t do it anymore.”
Heather, 44, added that the past two years have been tumultuous for the family.
“Since we opened the store we had the house fire, I’ve had a major surgery, Spencer was hit by a car (and) Larry’s having some medical issues,” she said. “As a family it’s been a very, very difficult time.”
We did not have enough business basically. It’s just not enough to keep us going. It didn’t quite work. We put everything into it.
The Trops lost their home of 12 years to a house fire Oct. 18, 2015. Community support helped the family get back on their feet and the presence of the store helped provide a sense of stability, Emily said.
“It’s just pretty much our second home. When we lost our house to the fire, we just came here and it was just common ground,” she said. “Losing this is so hard because we’ve been through so much.”
The store was a family project from the beginning, with the whole family working to build shelves, lighting fixtures and paint the space.
“This entire thing was a big family process,” Spencer said.
With the family working together at the store, the space is filled with memories for the Trops, from birthdays celebrated to holidays observed.
“I was the first birthday in here and the last,” Emily said. “There’s a lot of hidden things about this store.”
The family plans to stay in Gig Harbor, Heather said, but they are uncertain about their next step.
“For Larry and I, this is a lot of what we know,” she said. “It’s really an up-in-the-air thing for us right now.”
Ideas for an online-only store remain in consideration, she added, but there are other kinks to be ironed out on the production end before that could be a reality.
We just want to thank everyone for their support. We do have roots (in Gig Harbor) and we do plan to stay here.
“The things about chocolate making is that it has to be very temperature controlled. To find catering kitchens or rental kitchens that are temperature controlled is very difficult,” Heather said. “Chocolate is a finicky little creature. I’m more concerned for security for the family right now. To get us settled and things figured out for us.”
As they prepare to close shop, another concern remains for the family: their customers.
“We’re concerned that they’re going to be mad at us. A lot of people have been upset,” Larry said. “You don’t think about all the connections you have built with the community, with people.”
Heather agreed and added that the business has always worked to give back to the Gig Harbor community by hosting fundraisers and participating in community events.
“We just want to thank everyone for their support,” she said. “We do have roots (in Gig Harbor) and we do plan to stay here.”
Trop’s Chocolates will close at 2 p.m. May 27. The store is located at 3303 Jahn Ave NW, Suite 235, in Gig Harbor and can be reached by phone at 253-313-5804.