“I think the reason our product is so popular during this time of year is because it is known as a very high-end, luxury product,” says Cathy Brand-Beere, the founder of DeBrand Fine Chocolates in Fort Wayne. “It’s an expensive chocolate, but it’s a very inexpensive gift that says ‘luxury.’”
“And the fact that you can share it makes it even more special and appealing,” says Tim Beere, Cathy’s husband and co-owner of DeBrand. “What else can you buy for under $50 that covers an entire family or an office full of people?”
Tim and Cathy say the most popular item they sell is the Classic Collection.
“We carry it year-round, but, by far, we sell the majority of it at Christmas time,” says Cathy. “People love it because it’s full of classic favorites. Our truffles are a close second and our Connoisseur Collection is also a nice gift item, it’s just a little more unusual and unique. We have two brand new pieces in that collection. One is called Gianduja and it’s a hazelnut paste with chocolate and little crunchy pieces of salted toffee. It’s been very popular. Another favorite is the Salted Café Caramel.”
There are a number of items that are only available during the holiday season and Tim and Cathy say many customers look forward to having them this time of year.
“We have a chocolate box that’s shaped like a wreath and the lid comes off,” says Cathy. “Everything about it is chocolate and we fill it with truffles, so when the truffles are gone, people can actually eat the box and lid. It comes in milk or dark chocolate. We also have something called the Holiday Medley gift tray. I don’t like white chocolate, but I love this. It’s white chocolate that’s jam-packed with pistachios and raspberry pieces and some crisped rice and it’s just a really nice presentation with the red and green. You can buy it as a big bar or in small pieces.”
“I once read that food gifts are the most popular gifts to receive during the holidays,” says Tim. “Most people don’t buy high-end, gourmet chocolate for themselves on a daily basis, which is why a gift like that is appreciated. The words ‘luxury’ and ‘treat’ really go together because when you receive it as a gift, it’s really luxurious and people love it.”
Because they’ve been in business so long (since 1987), Tim and Cathy say they have the art of chocolate gift-giving down to a science.
“We’re set up to facilitate the process for companies to order Christmas gifts,” says Tim. “We have a format where they send some information to us and we handle it from there. We minimize the amount of work they have to do and make it as easy as possible for them.”
It has also mastered the art of last-minute gift giving. So, while many companies place Christmas orders early in the fall, DeBrand can accommodate those customers who wait until the very last minute to buy their gifts.
This is always an exceptionally busy season for Tim and Cathy, but it’s even more so this year because DeBrand just opened a store in Indianapolis.
“It’s a new concept being a completely different company,” says Cathy. “We own 51-percent and we have partners who live in Indianapolis and own 49-percent. We structured it that way because we wanted someone who had skin in the game and would be there daily to run it well. We want the quality of service to be exactly what it is here.”
The new store is located in the Keystone area and is directly across from the Fashion Mall in Indianapolis in The Shops at River Crossing.
Cathy and Tim say they’ve received dozens of offers over the years from business owners all over the country wanting to bring DeBrand to their city. They’ve politely and cautiously turned down the offers because they say the partnership has to be perfect.
“The partnership matters as much as the location,” says Cathy. “The Indianapolis store will act as a wonderful prototype for something that could be bigger and could expand to a lot of different places.”
“It doesn’t matter if you buy a gift for someone at one of our stores or online, the service will be superior,” says Tim. “And it shows the person receiving the gift that you did something special. Even if it’s a gift for someone you don’t know well, that message of this being something special will be obvious.”
Address: 10105 Auburn Park Drive Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 969-8333
Years in Business: 100
Number of Employees: 30
Products & Services: Fine chocolates and an array of chocolate desserts and drinks available at four stores in Fort Wayne and one store in Indianapolis. Online orders of chocolate available worldwide.