KNOXVILLE - Brad Hamlet has made chocolate for nearly 30 years.
"I could do it in my sleep," he said.
However, his lifelong dream was not always to be a chocolate maker. Instead, he had plans to be a lawyer. That is why, when he was offered a larger role at a chocolate store he worked at in 1995, he was hesitant.
"I looked her [the owner] square in the eye and I said 'Mrs. Lockwood, there's no way I want to make chocolate my whole life. I want to go to law school and change the world,' and that was 27 years ago and I've been doing chocolate almost every day since," Hamlet said.
What changed his mind was the joy that his profession brings to others.
"We're the place people come to when they're having a bad day," Hamlet said. "It just keeps us going because we know we're more than just a place to make money."
Hamlet believes the struggles that come with running a small business are outweighed by the strong ties he has built with the community.
"When we're kind of feeling a little discouraged and things aren't going the way that we thought, somebody will always come in and tell us what we mean to them, and tell us how we maybe got them through a bad time," Hamlet said.
Hamlet hopes his chocolate stores and the joy they bring to others will carry from generation to generation in East Tennessee.
"I've watched kids that came in when they were babies kind of grow up on our chocolate, and now they're graduating from college and high school," he said. “We hope that carries on as they’re adults with their kids and we’ve seen that some now too.”
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