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Southwest Gwinnett Chamber marches into its 10th year

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Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Chairpersons: Bottom Row Left to Right- Dorothy Jarrett, Bill Brown, Margie Asef (current Chair 2021-2022) Top Row Left to Right: Steve Dorough, Dave Jones, Chuck Paul, Barry Adams, Weare Gratwick

Accompanied by the Norcross High School Marching Band’s drumline, past and current chairs kicked off its anniversary month with high spirits.

The Southwest Gwinnett Chamber literally decided to “March Forth” to commemorate its ten-year anniversary. The Chamber kicked off the month celebrations with The Southwest Gwinnett Chamber quite literally decided to “March Forth” in commemorating its ten-year anniversary. The Chamber kicked off the month celebrations with remarks from past chairpersons, founding chair Steve Dorough (2012-2013), Chuck Paul (2014), Bill Brown (2015), Dave Jones (2016), Dorothy Jarrett (2017), Barry Adams (2018), Weare Gratwick (2019-2020) as well as present Chair Margie Asef. But, in order to march in properly, a drumline from Norcross High School’s Marching Band helped spark excitement. Under the leadership of Corer Fair, associate director of bands at Norcross High, the students helped the chamber keep the pep in their step as they proceeded to the stage. 

Past Chairs on stage

“These mature and hard-working students who we enjoyed having with us and sharing our breakfast with … were a pleasure to have as our guests,” said Beth Coffey, director of Membership Sales & Service for the Chamber.

“First Friday Breakfast was full of history as well as looking forward and we’ll do that at our 10th Anniversary Celebration in downtown Norcross on March 24,” added Coffey.

City Councilmembers Joe Sawyer, Eric Christ, Weare Gratwick and Phil Sadd flank current Chamber Chair Margie Asef

The service project for this month is a fundraiser for USB charger stations for patients at Northside Hospital Duluth. Many Emergency Room patients have cell phones with them, but not chargers, and visitors are likely there unexpectedly and haven’t prepared to spend long hours waiting or are unaware of COVID protocols that may limit or not allow visitation of loved ones. Low mobile device batteries only add to the stressful emotions of a hospital visit, but this could be remedied by using portable device chargers strategically located at nursing stations, explained Asef during the breakfast meeting. To allow them to keep in contact with friends and loved ones and helping to ease some stress during their hospital stay the Chamber has a goal to raise $750 and provide at least six charging stations.

Those willing to donate and assist hospital nursing staff in helping patients and families connect and engage with those they love with fully- charged mobile devices may do so through this link: business.southwestgwinnettchamber.com/events/details/chargers-for-patient-devices-northside-hospital-donation-3200 

Donations are being accepted through April 1.

Upcoming Southwest Gwinnett Chamber events:  

March 11 and 18 Coffee Connections  (no registration or cost)

March 18  SWGC Nonprofit Roundtable immediately following Coffee Connections

March 24  SWGC’s 10-Year Anniversary Celebration from 5:30 – 8:30 in downtown Norcross at The Brunswick.  Don’t miss this fun evening of great food, live music, a word from our mayors, and prizes, all in this fabulous new space.  Register by March 18.

April 1 First Friday Breakfast:  Step into our next decade with a practical and invigorating message from Dr. Randy Ross, best-selling author, keynote speaker, and craftsman of culture and hope.

Information: southwestgwinnettchamber.com

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier

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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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North American Properties Revitalizes Avenue East Cobb

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North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents.
The Andrews Brothers performing at Avenue East Cobb via Instagram @avenueeastcobb

North American Properties (NAP) has revamped the Avenue East Cobb shopping center in Marietta, boosting its appeal to suburban residents seeking a more urban lifestyle. Now, it’s being honored as part of the Atlanta Business Chronicle‘s “Best in Atlanta Real Estate” coverage.

NAP is known for transforming properties like Atlantic Station, Colony Square and The Forum.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the redevelopment involved demolishing part of the main building to build a public plaza with a stage surrounded by restaurant patios.

A new concierge facility was also added, including a canopy for drop-offs. Additionally, smaller retail buildings were created for standalone tenants. The business mix was updated to include names like Warby Parker, Lululemon and Peach State Pizza.

NAP also increased community engagement by partnering with at least 10 local organizations for social events. These efforts have proven successful. Over the last two years, Avenue East Cobb has seen a 36% increase in sales per square foot thanks to a major rise in foot traffic.

More news from North American Properties can be found here.

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North American Properties Secures 3 New Brands for The Forum

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North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses are planting flags at The Forum Peachtree Corners.
Sucré – A Sweet Boutique

North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate announced three new businesses coming to The Forum Peachtree Corners (The Forum). The new brands include Kendra Scott, Sucré, and The NOW Massage.

“We’re excited to keep expanding our merchandising mix with more experiential concepts that motivate guests to extend their time on property. In addition to these new leases, several tenants are on track to open over the next few months, and we can’t wait to see the impact,” said Brooke Massey, director of leasing at NAP.

Here are the latest deals to be signed at The Forum:

Kendra Scott ­­– Known for its plethora of accessories and customizable Color Bar experience, jewelry brand Kendra Scott blends classic designs with modern sophistication. Kendra Scott jewelry celebrates individuality and self-expression.

The growing brand has also donated over $50 million to local, national and international causes since its launch in 2010. The 2,284-square-foot space, situated next to Lovesac, opens later this spring, marking the retailer’s fourth location in the NAP portfolio.

Sucré – Founded in New Orleans, Sucré is a gourmet patisserie known for its macarons, gelato and other handmade, French-inspired desserts.

The sweet boutique will occupy a 1,718-square-foot space on the north end of the property and is slated to open later this year. Georgia is the brand’s first out-of-state venture, with The Forum being its third metro Atlanta location and eighth overall.

The NOW Massage – This brand is helping people discover the healing benefits of massage therapy.

The customizable menu offers guests three signature massage styles and a variety of exclusive enhancements like Deep Tissue, Herbal Heat Therapy, Hemp Calm Balm, Gua Sha, Gliding Cupping and more. Located near Mojito’s, the 2,414-square-foot massage boutique debuts late summer. 

These businesses join:

 Alloy Personal Training (opening this month),
Cookie Fix (open),
Gallery Anderson Smith (opening this month),
Giulia (opening this spring),
Lovesac (open),
Nando’s Peri-Peri (coming winter 2024), and
Stretchlab (open).

Since acquiring the property in March 2022, NAP has executed 39 deals with new, existing and temporary tenants alike.

To stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Forum, follow on Facebook Instagram, and X or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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