”...the boutique started as a 'whimsical keep-busy' venture!. . .In the 70s and 80s I learned a lot about upscale marketing by way of an import company we owned, selling to such places as Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Markus, Thalheimer’s, Wannamaker, Broadway, top hotels across North America, cruise lines, as well as our Holt Renfrew and Eatons. . .An upscale chocolate boutique can not survive on small sales. Fortunately, our typical customer here in Toronto comes often and buys lots. These everyday purchases — endless demand for hostess, birthday, anniversary, thank you, and party gifts — drive the engine of our store business. However,

Awards Banquet
". . .Ingrid had many women in tears
as she thanked her "Swiss-Master'. . ."
it is the sales to corporations, parties, hotels, and restaurants by way of the boutique that make the boutique exciting and exceptionally successful. . .We are embracing the reality of e-commerce, but we also see that too many are becoming road-kill on the fast e-commerce highway, and so are choosing the slow route...for one thing, in our case our niche market would all of a sudden become a ”mass market” under e-commerce, bringing in the need for new strategies... The biggest problem has always been home-delivery of perishable products in a society where everyone is normally at work or school. . .Having said that, though, our real target for e-commerce is the ‘corporate and big-function’ sales, which do not involve selling in "units of one" ...but involves sales that are often in the thousands and ‘many tens of thousands’ of dollars per order — and delivery/pick-up is usually handled by the actual buyer, or the order is delivered in bulk by us to the buyer...and that is where the web site becomes a very important advertising tool for us. . .In reality, the web starts to become the sales force we had in the 70s and 80s throughout North America. . .Yes, we are open to joining forces for expansion, and as a way of putting more leisure into my life, and to handle the sudden explosion in business via the web..."

Ingrid representing Swiss-Master Foods Corp at
a trade show in the 80s

("These were defining times when North America was still learning
to appreciate what "true great chocolate" was all about, and when 
high-end retailers scrambled to find great chocolate for their own customers. . .")

The Jewish Tribune....November 25, 1999
Secrets Behind "Retailer of the Year" Win
". . .Yes, Swiss-Master Chocolatier on Bayview got it for 1999. . .at a gala attended by some 600 guests. . .From day one we realized we would have no chance of success by simply replicating other shops, pursuing the same customers and offering similar products. . .we decided to carve out a unique niche by going all out to 'romanticize' the selling of our chocolates. Our slogan became 'Beautiful Chocolates for Beautiful People,' and our clientele just loved being the 'beautiful people.' Of course, our definition of 'beauty' was special, and based on something that 'came from the heart.' . .We knew our few words were not the magic answer to retail success. . .not to fall into any trappings of 'glitzy.' . .In the early nineties we began to feel the wrath of the 'never ending recession' when buying habits changed almost overnight and the Canadian dollar plummeted on the world stage. We also watched our 'hotel and corporate' sales dwindle and our Quebec sales virtually disappear. But, we were probably no different than other small businesses. We responded aggressively with smaller margins, which allowed us to hold prices in the hope that higher volumes would make up the difference. . .and they did. . . Läderach-Steven ended with some humour: "Perhaps this award will now entice Swiss-Master to join the Chamber of Commerce!"

click to enlarge
Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the store is so delightful ...
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!


Ingrid: "The boutique started as a personal challenge. It came by way of a family tradition in chocolate and a passion for excellence.. . . We did not start with any ‘bold world vision, only a tiny boutique to serve the very best chocolates to a very special clientele. . .something that was the very best, yet within reach of most customers . . .During the early nineties "separation anxiety" kept fuelling Canada's brutal recession. . . our government became consumed with reacting to the separatist threat... it was a time when sinking wages turned many magical purchases into a jarring experience ... it was a time when dreams began to turn into nightmares for many small-businesses. . .

click to enlarge
Tom and Ingrid
Success Magazine Spring 2007
We decided to make a bit less, but in the long run we made a good profit. . .We however had to operate tight, else we would end up working for nothing. . .The store gets a lot of orders from the U.S., Hong Kong, Britain, and Japan, for corporate gifts and for special personal gifts . . . the initial sales by way of our web site appear to be just the tip of the iceberg of the potential e-commerce offers even to a tiny boutique. In one fell swoop the world opened up for Swiss-Master. . .The boutique is a magnet for Toronto’s very high profile customers . . .What is especially nice about working at our boutique is that most of the time we get to meet people at their happiest moments in life. . . The store works at a "leisurely easy-going pace (except for

click to enlarge
some mad rush holiday days) and I realize it is not taking full advantage of the numerous windows of opportunity that kept opening over the years, especially the continued requests for expansion . . . buttttt. . .I do not believe someone can be called successful if he or she becomes rich but loses a family along the way. . .Corporate gift buyers are always on the lookout for things that make a world-class bold statement, and our truffles seems to do just that. . .The smallness of the boutique is not a problem, as it is typical of chocolate boutiques in Switzerland, and in facts adds to the charm and romantic aura of its reputation. . .The biggest promoter for the business ends up being the presentation and quality of the product itself, as it is given as a gift, and as it

click to enlarge
Toronto Sun, February 11, 2001
then produces further word-of-mouth praise. . .Our sales people must have an easy-going flare for merchandising and for handling the clientele at York Mills Shopping Centre. . .In fact, this is the infamous plaza that a Toronto Star columnist wrote about some years ago, stating: ‘This is the only plaza where everyone drives like they own the plaza'. . .This very tiny shopping centre has also always been the biggest money generator per square foot and the "most profitable," by far, in all of Canada, and one of the very best in North America, as it attracts a very affluent clientele. . .The boutique does not cater to the ‘tourist market’ but it is a popular stopover for tourists from the Orient. In fact, the boutique has an exceptionally big Chinese clientele, as well as Japanese, and recently a sizable Russian clientele . . .They say ‘Offer customers a great product at a good price and they will line up for it.’ And that they do at our boutique, especially at Valentine’s Day when the line-ups extend to the outdoors and around the corner to the coffee shop . . .The staff is always reminded not to ‘make a sale – but lose a customer.’ . . . We empower our staff to make decisions, usually in favour of customers, and we back up their decisions, whether it is costly for us or not. As long as they do their best. . .that’s all that you can expect. . .The staff stays around for many many years not wanting to leave, looking at their job as a social event"



Home Inside Boutique Corporate Business Products & Prices Media & Reviews Retailer of the Year Hong Kong Boutique Secrets, Recipes & News Photo Library Toronto Skyline Beautiful People