Gateway: Living

No golden ticket needed for this Gig Harbor chocolate factory

A signature chocolate creation at Trop's Chocolates is a candy box filled with gourmet chocolates — with the box also being a chocolate treat.
A signature chocolate creation at Trop's Chocolates is a candy box filled with gourmet chocolates — with the box also being a chocolate treat. Staff photographer

There’s something sweet about the Trops.

The family of four recently opened Trop’s Chocolate Factory, and the new store is already making a name for itself as Gig Harbor’s home for those with a sweet tooth.

Larry Trop has been making chocolates for years, but this is his first retail store in the area. He previously owned a shop inside a mall in Southern California. After moving to Gig Harbor, he worked wholesale providing everything from truffles to syrups for cafes and coffee shops.

Now, he’s opened a factory, store and cafe combination that sells his creations. The goal is to be a welcoming place for lovers of chocolate.

“We want to be very family friendly. Gig Harbor is all about family,” Larry said.

Trop’s is all about family, too. The chocolate factory is staffed by Larry, wife Heather and their children, Emily and Spencer.

“I’m the Oompa Loompa. I’ve been making chocolate my whole life,” said 16-year-old Emily Trop, referring to the orange, singing characters that work in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Emily was “born into the business,” she said. Her mother was working making chocolates while pregnant with her.

Spencer, 13, said that working in the factory and store has given him well-rounded skills such as customer service and even woodworking. He helped build the shelves inside.

It’s something Larry and Heather hope their children can glean skills from. Customer service is something that takes practice, and the Trop siblings have a leg up.

“They can get all kinds of jobs from this,” Larry said.

The family has big plans for the store. Larry would like to be a birthday party venue and maybe eventually teach chocolate-making classes. The design is open and includes many tables and a coffee bar. It provides a front-row seat to the tempering and crafting of the chocolates.

“We want it to be visible, we want to be able to talk (to customers) while we’re doing it,” Larry said.

Trop started out by baking bread while part of a Southern California food co-op. Then his attention turned to dessert, and a batch of truffles he made were a huge hit.

But even before then, he began as a medical student. His parents hoped he would be a doctor, but it just wasn’t the right fit for Larry. He loved science, but wasn’t so sure about the medical aspects.

Chocolate, he says, plays on his love of science. After all, making chocolates is something of science experiment.

“The chemistry knowledge can come in very handy,” he said. “It’s very precise.”

Trop’s is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It is located at 3303 Jahn Ave. NW, Gig Harbor.

Karen Miller: 253-358-4155