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In the Business of Happy



Geoffrey Wilson (Photos by Isadora Pennington)

The Forum, Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Peachtree Corners

Located in a corner shop located in The Forum, Peterbrooke Chocolatier has been a staple of Peachtree Corners since 2008. The shop, lit by large windows, features shelf after shelf of chocolate goodies, popcorn, truffles, candies and a large gelato case. When I visited, the store was decorated for Easter with pastel colors, bunnies and giant decorative eggs everywhere you look.

Founded by Phyllis Geiger in 1983 in Jacksonville, Florida, the company lives by the motto that chocolate should be fun. And here, surrounded by candies lining the aisles of Peterbrooke Chocolatier, fun is abundant. The air itself carries the alluring aroma of chocolate and stepping inside feels a bit like stepping back in time. Being in the shop reminded me of my childhood; the magic of being surrounded by treats is intoxicating.

“It’s a wonderland,” said Head Chocolatier Geoffrey Wilson, who has grown up around chocolate and developed a deep love and understanding for the art of making chocolate.

A personal history of chocolate and happiness

Wilson’s affection for the craft can be traced back to when he was about 10 years old. He described his mother as an overachiever, and one manifestation of that was the assortment of extravagant treats she made for her children’s birthdays, Boy Scout meetings and school parties. A mother to nine, the act of making confectionary goodies became a family pastime with Wilson and his youngest four brothers.

While making chocolate remained a hobby in Wilson’s life, his career led him to hold a variety of roles, including working in customer service for AirTran as well as an Episcopal church position where he was in charge of making large meals for the congregation.

He enjoyed the flexibility to improvise when making these large meals and finding ways to make them more enjoyable to the diners. “Normally church food is kind of boring and bland, so we would kind of spice things up a little,” said Wilson. “It made everybody happy.”

Making people happy is a theme of Wilson’s life, and it’s evident when talking to him about his work at Peterbrooke. “That is very important, probably too important sometimes. Other people’s happiness supersedes my own,” he said wryly.

An artist at heart, Wilson is the type to always have crafts ready for when he entertains family at holidays. He is constantly seeking opportunities for artistic expression. Since he began working at Peterbrooke 12 years ago, Wilson has been able to flex those creative muscles in both the act of crafting chocolate goodies as well as the intricate decorations he installs for major holidays. “I create new designs and have fun with it,” he said.

Year-round sweets and events

Products like hand-dipped strawberries, molded figures and even corporate gifts made in the shape of company logos keep the dedicated staff at Peterbrooke busy year-round. Their busiest season runs from October through late December, when they prepare a plethora of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas treats.

“We shipped just over 1,000 packages last November and December, so that’s the busiest because it’s the longest period of time. Valentine’s is the craziest of all of them. We fill the store up with hearts and cherubs,” Wilson explained.

“We shipped over 800 pounds of chocolate dipped strawberries this year. Easter and then Mother’s Day are pretty big for us, too. Easter is the most chocolate of all the holidays,” he said, gesturing at the shelves behind him. “It’s a lot of chocolate bunnies.”

The store also offers summer camps, field trips, adult nights out, team building and private parties. For the camps, Wilson typically conceptualizes a theme and builds projects and tasks around that topic.

The theme of last year’s summer camp was Minecraft. Kids were able to come into the shop and craft tasty treats such as krispie creepers, golden apples, and enderman graham crackers.

Wilson infuses the workshops with lessons about chocolate and confectionery, finding fun ways to pepper that information throughout the day in the form of trivia. “I teach them the history of chocolate and where chocolate comes from. I do a Girl Scout class on the economics of an Oreo,” he said with a chuckle, describing how large-scale manufacturers differ from independent local makers. He’s passionate about his knowledge and enjoys sharing it with others.

Keeping connected through chocolate

Wilson truly thrives when working with kids and has developed long-lasting relationships with many of the families who frequent the shop. “With the summer camps, I see pictures of some of these kids from 12 years ago and now they are getting married and graduating college. I still know their parents and they come in and I get to hear about what they are doing,” he shared, adding that some of the kids who attended camps there end up coming back to work for him later on.

“I’ve had some really incredible people who have worked with me, and they have gone on to get master’s degrees, travel and experience the world.”

Working in a chocolate shop is — no surprise — a great way to connect with kids and families. Many locals love their special events, such as the recent 12th annual Easter Egg Hunt that took place on April 9. Sponsored by the Forum and Peterbrooke, they closed the alley just outside the shop and eggs are hidden on the street and sidewalks for eager children to find.

After my interview, I decided to try a few sweets. You know, for science. Choosing just one treat is nearly impossible when faced with so many options. I finally settled on a few goodies: chocolate covered graham crackers and hot cocoa bombs, plus goodies for my daughter’s Easter basket, including a classic chocolate bunny and sugar cookies in the shape of carrots. The chocolate is such high quality it positively melts in your mouth.

This sweet little shop in The Forum is truly a gem, and sure to please every chocolate-lover in your life.

For more information visit peterbrookeatlanta.com

Isadora is a writer, photographer, and designer living in Avondale Estates, GA. She has worked in print for the past decade and has been published in the Atlanta INtown, Oz Magazine, Atlanta Senior Life, and the Reporter Newspapers.

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VyStar Credit Union Continues Growth in Georgia with the Opening of a Peachtree Corners Branch



A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 29, 2024

VyStar Credit Union has to announced that its Peachtree Corners location is now open at 5125 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. This is VyStar’s fifth full-service branch in Metro Atlanta and joins branches in Stockbridge, Suwanee, Smyrna and Marietta.

In support of its purpose to “Do Good,” VyStar partners with non-profit organizations across the communities it serves. VyStar will make a $5,000 donation to the Rainbow Village to celebrate the grand opening of the Peachtree Corners branch at the ribbon cutting event in late May.

“VyStar’s first branch in Gwinnett will provide residents and business owners with better banking options, including free checking, access to early direct deposit, great rates, financial wellness education through VyStar’s Financial Fitness initiative, and unbelievable member-centric service that only a credit union can provide,” said VyStar EVP/Chief Operations Officer Chad Meadows.

The Peachtree Corners branch features VyStar’s digital-forward design, which enhances how employees connect with members. This includes interactive touchscreen kiosks that provide financial tools and allow members to quickly explore the latest products, services and rates. 

Lobby and drive-thru hours for the Peachtree Corners branch are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

VyStar continues to work with local organizations to build up the communities it serves. In Metro Atlanta, that includes supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Frontline Housing Inc., H.E.R.O. For Children and many others.

“Each time VyStar opens a new branch, it is another opportunity for us to support our purpose to Do Good. With eight full-service branches now in Georgia and our first Contact Center in Metro Atlanta, VyStar is able to provide residents and area businesses with exceptional financial products along with personalized service,” said VyStar SVP/Georgia Market President Janean Armstrong.

VyStar has seven additional locations in Georgia: Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Stockbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Thomasville, with plans to open branches in Pooler, Kingsland and Peachtree City over the next year.

The credit union is also expanding its services in Florida with a third branch in Tallahassee scheduled to open in May followed by a branch opening in the Lake Nona area in August.

To celebrate the grand opening, the community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about the Peachtree Corners branch.

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Kendra Scott Opens New Store At The Forum



Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of its newest store in Peachtree Corners the weekend of May 10 at The Forum.

Upon opening, the 2,263 square foot store will display Kendra Scott’s current collections. The store will also showcase the brand’s unique Color Bar, offering shoppers an interactive experience to create customized jewelry in minutes and leave with it in hand.

Worn by celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Camila Cabello, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya and Kelly Clarkson, Kendra Scott’s collections are known for their custom-created stone shapes, genuine materials and design details.

This will be Kendra Scott’s first store in Gwinnett County, which joins five other retail locations in Georgia.

The brand will continue to show its support for the community through partnerships with non-profits and local businesses. For the grand opening weekend, Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners will host various non-profits for Kendra Gives Back events, donating a percentage of proceeds directly back to the causes.

Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 Kendra Gives Back events in retail stores annually and looks forward to establishing relationships and connecting with the Gwinnett County community.

“We’re excited to continue introducing the community to new brands, bites and events at The Forum as part of our vision to create downtown Peachtree Corners. Kendra Scott will be a welcome addition, providing our guests a top-notch experience to shop its unique offerings in person,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Doors will open on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. with celebrations throughout the weekend, including giveback events, gifts with purchase and giveaways. RSVP for more details here.

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, May 10 from 10-12 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with The Forum for a VIP event. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special jewelry gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy refreshments from Giulia, The Italian Bakery.
  • Friday, May 10 from 5-7 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with the Norcross High School Cheer Team and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase* Guests can also receive a custom embroidered bow from Quiet Hours Embroidery with purchase.
  • Saturday, May 11 from 4-6 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with Spectrum Autism Support Group and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy complimentary cotton candy from Wonder Soirée with every purchase.
  • Sunday, May 12 from 12-2 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is celebrating the Community of Motherhood. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also receive a complimentary Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers from Nancy’s Flower Truck.

*One per person while supplies last.

Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is located at 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 710 in Peachtree Corners at The Forum. For companywide updates and product details, follow @kendrascott on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier



Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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