Tampa Toffee Business Savors 20% Gain

Despite a modest Christmas at many businesses, Jim and Lisa Schalk posted a 20 percent gain the past year.

The Schalks own and run Toffee to Go, a toffee-making business that began in their South Tampa home in 2002 and now has outgrown their rented South Tampa facility. Jim Schalk is looking for a new location for the business, which is based on his mother's toffee recipe.

"We had a great year," Jim Schalk said. "We also worked very hard."

The Schalks came in at 7 a.m. and worked until 11 p.m. on many days during the holiday season. For the first time, they were making toffee around the clock to handle orders from consumers and businesses.

Yet the sales increase wasn't all from the last quarter. The Schalks traveled to more springtime out-of-town trade shows to sell toffee.

"The springtime shows helped," Schalk says. "Corporate sales were up. It was a lot of last minute on the corporate sales. They were waiting on how their year was going to end. Our walk-in retail was up and our Web sales were up. We were tickled pink."

Looking ahead, the next task for the Schalks will be creating a sugar-free toffee for diabetics.

"There's a good market for it," Schalk says. "We made some already. The customers who tested it said it tasted really good."

Schalk is also looking to more than double the business' facility size. It occupies a 1,000-square-foot building that includes a commercial kitchen and a retail storefront. He is looking for a South Tampa facility about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet. Visibility isn't a top priority because Toffee to Go customers usually seek the business out.

"We don't need to be up front and center on Dale Mabry Highway," he says.

Writer: Dave Szymanski

Source: Jim Schalk, Toffee to Go

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