A lively mix of Yale students and New Haven residents wandered through Elm City Market Wednesday evening to taste a variety of chocolate products.
The event, “Chocolate is Always the Answer,” featured small stations spread throughout the market, which is located at 777 Chapel St., offering free samples of chocolate products, including trail mix, brownies and chocolate cereal, all of which the stores also sells.
The storewide event was part of a series of increasingly successful community engagement programs that the market is holding, according to Alexa Apotria, marketing director for the store.
Apotria said she thinks the recent community engagement initiative is not related to the market’s recent change in status from a co-op to an employee owned grocery store but is instead a result of a new partnership with a public relations firm that is helping the market promote events and attract more customers. Elm City Market now sends out monthly press releases and posts flyers around town to advertise events like last night’s chocolate tasting.
Noting that the store’s Jan. 28 cheese class attracted 55 customers, Apotria said the new marketing initiatives have been successful.
“We’ve seen more people than we’ve had,” she said, adding that previous cheese classes used to draw only a handful of people.
Although Elm City Market’s Website and Marketing Coordinator Adriana Gheorghiciuc said the chocolate event would educate the public about the nutritional benefits of chocolate, no health information about chocolate was presented during the event.
Apotria declined to comment about why health information was not provided, but she said the event was meant to be more “low-key” than some of the other Elm City Market events, such as their monthly cheese course.
All five customers interviewed also did not report learning about chocolate, but, they said, the event was enjoyable.
“I’m just learning about different brands more than anything else,” said Roseann Scala, who lives in New Haven.
Becky Marvin ’16 said that what she learned at the event was that the store offers “delicious chocolate.”
First-time customer at Elm City Market Sophie Ruehr ’18 said she enjoyed the event and plans to get a bike in order to go to the store more frequently.
Although Elm City Market has held similar community events in the past — the store held a Valentines Day chocolate event last year — Gheorghiciuc said she hopes to increase the number of such events in order to build a relationship with New Haven and Yale. One event she is currently planning will offer college students tips on finding healthy meals despite their busy schedule, she said.
Other efforts to engage the community include using social media to educate the public about nutrition and revamping the website to make it more informational.
The market will celebrate National Tortilla Day on Feb. 24 by offering free samples of different types of tortilla chips and dips.