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More chocolate on Park

The former Ann Taylor Loft space has been split into three storefronts.

The former Ann Taylor Loft space has been split into three storefronts.

Kristy Vickery

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Handmade chocolates, truffles, fudge, macaroons and ice cream are just some of the tasty treats coming to Park Avenue soon.

As one store says goodbye to Park Avenue, a chocolatier moves in, to try its hand at opening and making a new business thrive in a not-so-thriving market.

Kilwin’s, a small Michigan-based chocolate and ice cream company is expected to move into one of the three spaces that were divided after Ann Taylor left the avenue in 2009.

“We were looking for some other business ventures that would be fun to do together, and we’d been looking there (Park Avenue) for quite some time, so when that place opened up we jumped at it,” Kilwin’s owner Jessica O’Brien said. “And everything just fell together.”

Although there are already similar shops throughout the Park Avenue area, such as Peterbrooke, Gurtzberry, Haagen-Dazs and Tutti Frutti, many are not worried about the competition, but are welcoming the traffic the new shop will bring.

“As local business owners and residents of Winter Park, we are always happy to see our neighborhood grow,” Peterbrooke owner Kevin Wray said. “Hopefully, a second chocolate shop will lure even more chocolate lovers to the area and more shoppers to Park Avenue and Winter Park in general.”

Wray also said Peterbrooke has established a lot of loyal customers in Winter Park, since they opened in 2001, and they carry a variety of different products, such as 12 different gelato flavors daily, that makes them stand out from other businesses in the area.

Gurtzberry owner Elina Nubaryan said she is not feeling any competition from the soon-to-arrive Kilwin’s store because their product is so different from Gurtzberry’s.

“Our product is made with milk and is more health-oriented,” Nubaryan said. “And we have a lot of loyal customers; we are so blessed.”

And Kilwin’s isn’t nervous either. Owner Kurt O’Brien said he doesn’t believe other established businesses in the area will hinder Kilwin’s productivity.

“I think Kilwin’s has a lot of different products to offer people,” Kurt said. “And I think most people have visited other Kilwin’s stores… and loved it, so I think they will all be attracted to it.”

Kilwin’s currently has 33 different locations throughout Florida, with two others in the Orlando area.

Kurt said although it is still a scary time to open a business, he is not worried because Kilwin’s has managed to keep their sales up throughout the downturn of the economy.

“Through this whole disastrous economy their company sales are up about 5-6 percent,” he said. “So it shows you people are still willing to spend money on a little bit of a luxury item.”

Construction of the new Kilwin’s is currently under way, although the store is not projected to open until Dec. 12; the new owners have faith that the timing was right for their new venture together.

“If times were booming, Ann Taylor probably wouldn’t have closed and there probably wouldn’t have been an opportunity to locate there,” Kurt said. “I think the opportunity presented itself because of timing, and we are excited about it.”