Pack it up and tear it down – oh wait!

“Can we still buy dates?!”

I turned to look and although the Duzu tent was now at half-mast, two heads were peering underneath the very low tent as two people were crouched and bent peering inside.

It had been a long, hot day on Stephen Avenue, but when our customers are that enthusiastic, it’s amazing the extra burst of energy one finds!

The voice asking was from a regular customer who said she buys the dates from various locations and also gifts them (yes, we love her!) She had dragged her male colleague to the booth and was offering very detailed explanation what each variety was and suggesting what he should buy as a gift for an evening get together.

I didn’t have to do anything but get the “right” box from the cooler.

As a small business owner, it is this growing relationship with customers that keeps one strongly motivated to tackle the daily challenges.

Some of my friends witness firsthand the hard work that goes into each artisan box.

Here’s a small window:

Saturday night I was folding a few hundred boxes (top and bottom) and putting the candy trays and candy cups in each; after a few hours of sleep it was off to the kitchen Sunday am with a small but dedicated crew where we pitted and stuffed 4,000 dates. That evening, more boxes were folded ready for Monday morning where it was back to Master Chocolat for chocolate-dipping day. The Pink Himalayan sea salt is sprinkled by hand as each date still dripping with chocolate comes through the chocolate enrobing machine. As each date dries, they are swiftly placed in the prepared boxes; while a third person puts the candy pad in each lid and tightly puts it on.

Sneak Peak into Production

To be ready for Tuesday, after a short break, bellybands are placed around the boxes to seal them and give them the final touch. This goes on well into the evening. Tuesday, it’s a fairly early morning to load the tent in the car; get to Stephen Avenue; unload the heavy tent; as well as the 4 x 25 lb weights to ensure each corner is secure. The table is unfolded; table cloth on; product carefully laid out, the final step, is parking and getting back to the tent in a timely fashion so that nothing goes missing.

For some customers, the price on each package may seem high – even though the market special for 8 dates is $16 – and includes GST if paid by cash. But three x 12 hour days (36 hours minimum) just went into just those few boxes to the market. There is no processing plant or large piece of machinery to pit medjool dates. Nowhere in the world. It is labour intensive and every step is managed with love and care.

When customers come by with excitement and appreciation, it means so very much. We thank you!