Monday, February 14, 2011

Knoxville: There's One Chocolate Store Here

I’ve recently been writing quite a bit about chocolates that could possibly impress somebody on Valentine’s Day. And now, the day is here.

If you haven’t gotten or baked something with chocolate yet, it’s too late for you. You’re stuck with something from the drug store. So consider that series over. It’s time to move on.

As I’ve noted before, I travel quite a bit for work. Often to big cities, like Seattle and Chicago, which offer a wide selection of high-end chocolate shops.

I also go to places like Oak Ridge, TN, and did so last week. Not exactly known for gourmet food in general. Especially not chocolate. Even nearby Knoxville, where I stayed, only had a handful of chocolate shops, but I was determined to check out at least one, and found myself at Bradley’s Chocolate and Gifts.

Honestly, it was one of the only independent chocolate shops around. And I wasn’t really too impressed with the surroundings, which were typical for a suburban strip mall.

Welcome to West Knoxville. Enjoy your stay. Except not.

I really tried to reserve judgment until I walked inside. I was a bit disappointed even then, as the shop seemed to emphasize “gifts” over “chocolate.” I felt a tad mislead, though many of the gifts were appealing, and included cookbooks like Joanne Chang’s Flour and I Love Macarons. Given the limited space in my carry-on, I declined to pick up either, but was a bit encouraged to see that the owners were at least up-to-date on their baking books.

I also saw that the owners were not bashful about their religion.

Yowzers. OK then. I’m happy that you embrace your faith, but I’m not sure how that would go over at shops in other parts of the country. That being said, their shop, their décor choice.

The chocolate offerings were generally restricted to “chocolate covered stuff,” where the “stuff” ranged from Oreos to pretzels. I wasn’t terribly impressed or interested in that sort of thing, so I picked up a box of assorted chocolates to try out.

The nine-piece box only set me back $7, and the woman behind the counter assured me that Bradley’s has the best chocolate in all of Knoxville.

I’m sure that’s a tight contest. Really, I am. I’ll review the box with an open mind, but note that this shop is much different from shops I have visited in most other cities.

What do you think about stores that have strongly religious décor? Does it affect how you view the shop?


  1. Yeah overly religious decor doesn't do it for me, though I do think the layout of that store is cute!

  2. What a pretty box of chocs!

    ooh and thankyou so much for your macaron tips!

  3. Wow. Yes, it really would. I'd very likely walk out again straight away, as that's far too in-your-face for me, particularly coming from Australia where not many people are gung-ho about publicising their religious fervour. Wow.

  4. @Beth @ Beth's Journey to Thin It was pretty cute, and at least the text was small enough that it wasn't tooooooooo overwhelming.

  5. @Lisa (bakebikeblog) It certainly has beautiful packaging - and email me anytime for mac troubleshooting. I've screwed up in every way possible.

  6. @Hannah I guess it's different in different places, not just in the world, but within our respective countries. While the shop owners obviously have every right to do this, I wonder if it turns away some potential buyers - like you.

  7. Oy, pet peeve. It totally makes me uncomfortable. I feel like everyone is entitled to whatever beliefs they hold, but would prefer if they didn't overly advertise like this. Even though they probably mean well, it makes things awkward.

  8. @Jessica @ bake me away! Yeah it was a little much. Like I could deal with one sign...but a while display?

  9. Oak Ridge, Tennessee, eh? Visiting Y-12? Sorry, my fiance is from Oak Ridge, and I'm an engineer who works on nuclear structures. Mmmm chocolate . . .

  10. @Annedon't be sorry, that is SUPER COOL? Who do you work for? I've been to Y-12 before, but this time, I was at ORNL.