Franchisee finds a recipe for a summer sales slump

NEW YORK (AP) — Bacon makes everything better. Even sales at Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Winter Park, Fla.

The shop's chocolate covered bacon slices, which sell for $2.50 each, have been a hit since store owner Kevin Wray began selling them three years ago. So when he needed to come up with an idea to boost slow summer sales he knew he could count on bacon.

"Bacon has gotten huge," says Wray, a Peterbrooke Chocolatier franchisee, who has owned his location for four years. "People get excited about it."

From ice cream shops to snowboard sellers, many small businesses have a few months every year that are slower than others. That's when company owners need to get creative.

Last summer, Wray decided to throw a bacon celebration on International Bacon Day, an unofficial holiday that's celebrated on the Saturday before Labor Day.

Wray cooked up a special menu of bacon-infused treats for the day. The store sold chocolate chip and bacon cookies and strawberries and frozen bananas covered with chocolate and then topped with bacon crumbles.

He also teamed up with C&S Brisket Bus, a popular Orlando, Fla. food truck known for its cured meats, and dipped its sweet tea and root beer cured bacon into Peterbrooke chocolate. Working with a food truck also helped promote the event to C&S Brisket Bus' young gourmet-food loving fans.

On the day of the event, Wray made an appearance on a local morning TV news show to promote the event. The anchors "oohed and aahed" over the bacon treats, Wray says.

By the time he got back to the store at 10 a.m., it was packed.

The shop had a 30 percent jump in sales that day and a 10 percent jump the rest of the week. Wray says the store also picked up some repeat customers who came back to buy chocolate gift baskets during the holidays. He plans to throw another bacon celebration this summer.

Chocolate covered bacon is the third best-selling item in the store, behind its chocolate covered popcorn and gelato. Fans love the mix of sweet chocolate and the salty bacon, says Wray.

"It's really craveable"

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ONLINE:

— Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park, Fla.: http://peterbrookewp.com/

— C&S Brisket Bus: http://brisketbus.com/

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Follow Joseph Pisani at https://twitter.com/josephpisani

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