Peterbrooke Chocolatier Celebrates 10 Years in Tuscaloosa
by Evan Reier-UA Journalism student
For most residents of Tuscaloosa, where and what to eat is a big deal. With a plethora of options all around town, deciding what to have for lunch and dinner can be a hard decision. This can’t be said for Peterbrooke Chocolatier, which has been an easy stop for anyone craving a snack or a post-meal dessert.
Peterbrooke has a been a sweet staple of Tuscaloosa since 2007, bringing decadent chocolate and serving as a key part of the small-business community in the area. Owner Heather Reier saw space for a fun and fulfilling venture into chocolate, establishing the store as a certain stop for any person with a sweet tooth.
Reier and her family moved to Tuscaloosa in 2003 during a period of transition for the city. The University of Alabama’s growth since the early 2000s has seen businesses, big and small, take root in town. However, the lack of a proper chocolatier reminded Reier of her roots and the opportunity to simultaneously make delicious treats and have a successful business.
“After moving to Tuscaloosa in 2003 from the much larger city of Jacksonville, Florida,” Reier said, “I was constantly wondering why certain business models had not made their way to our smaller town. Being from Jacksonville and always knowing that a royal blue bag with hot pink tissue meant you were about to receive something very special, I thought Peterbrooke Chocolatier might be a good fit for Tuscaloosa and for me.”
September 1 marks the 10th anniversary of the store’s opening, and Reier is happy to
celebrate. The store’s first decade has been eventful to say the least, finding itself at the center of a booming college town.
But the real reason the store is around and able to provide service and chocolate of the highest level is thanks to Reier’s disposition and goals. She understands how important it is to have a positive experience with every customer, and she does her best to ensure every single one is satisfied.
“Our goal is to give the customer the ultimate experience in chocolate and customer service,” Reier said. “Every customer that walks through our door is greeted with respect and a cheerful disposition. We want you to be happy with your purchase and to buy something you love. We will even let you try a sample before you buy to ensure your happiness with the product. We want to make you happy with chocolate and give you a reason to come back soon.”
And with all the options that the store offers, it seems impossible that someone can’t find something enjoyable. Chocolate-covered popcorn, pretzels, strawberries, and caramels are just a handful of the charming candies available.
For many, the first question at the proposition of running a chocolate store is: how great is to eat the product? Reier admits that having her choice of sweets is a perk, but says that the positivity chocolate seems to spread is the best part of the job.
“It’s fun to be the chocolate lady,” Reier said. “It seems that people always get that warm fuzzy feeling of happiness the moment chocolate is involved. Whether I am out and about town or in the shop people are generally happy around chocolate!”
And while the majority of Peterbrooke’s time in town has been great, every business and community has their ups and downs. For many residents in town, including Reier, the most stark moment was the tornado that ravaged Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011.
The store luckily avoided the tornado, staying a couple miles off its course as it traveled down city center. The tornado and the aftermath are some of Reier’s most vivid moments of owning the store, as she quickly turned the store into a relief outpost in the aftermath of the storm.
“It was a scary day for many,” Reier said. “My family and business were fortunate enough to steer clear of any damage. We felt so lucky and wanted to help, so we opened the shop the next day and became a drop off center for supplies like food, water, blankets etc. It felt really good to see our customers and the people of Tuscaloosa come together and turn a negative into a positive. We were and still are truly blessed.”
Over six years removed from that unforgettable day and nearly ten years since the store’s opening day, Peterbrooke and Reier are still active in the community. The city’s bounce back from that fateful period has been nothing short of impressive, and Reier is happy to contribute and be a part of Tuscaloosa.
When asked how long Tuscaloosa can expect Peterbrooke’s delicious chocolate and presence in the community, “the Chocolate Lady” only needed one word to reply:
Peterbooke Chocolatier is located on 1530 McFarland Boulevard N in Suite C. Peterbrooke is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and can be reached at 205-752-0211.