By Gabe House
Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet has a little something for everyone.
Incredibly Delicious quiche and Bean Counter coffee are available for breakfast. Children have their own play and lounge area. Or at the end of a long day, perhaps a glass of wine paired with Pease’s confections in front of a crackling fireplace is just the ticket.
“People like to come in and they’re awestruck when they see our candy wall, but they also just like to hang out. It’s been great,” said Bunn Gourmet senior vice president Desiree Logsdon. “All kinds of different people come in for different experiences.”
The retail outlet – Bunn Gourmet’s first brick-and-mortar establishment – opened just last month in The Gables shopping center. A marriage of two of Springfield’s most storied local businesses seemed like an apt opportunity.
“We like to call it a business partnership,” Logsdon said. “A year ago, in August, we formed it with Pease’s with the mission of infusing new life in the brand and updating those stores.”
The previous Coldwater Creek location was in a prime west-side location, and the large space – more than 5,500 sq. feet – meant any number of possibilities could be realized.
“We said, ‘this is more than a chocolate shop, so what else can we do?’ It just made sense for these two great brands to come together,” Logsdon said. “It created a unique and interesting environment for Springfield consumers.”
Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet has decadent displays full of pastries and candy. Colorful containers of confections are stacked from floor to ceiling. There are even gourmet steaks on offer. And, of course, there is coffee.
But this isn’t the first time the two companies have been bedfellows, at least according to some. There are those who believed Pease’s was kept afloat during the strict rationing of the depression in the ‘30s thanks to black market sugar supplied by the Bunn Capitol Wholesale Grocery Company. Those suspicions were never confirmed, though, and remain apocryphal.
There is no confusion, however, about the process behind Pease’s candy, thanks to the chocolate theater in the new Bunn Gourmet store. While some of Pease’s candies are still manufactured in St. Louis, Logsdon said, they are slowly bringing that production back to Springfield.
“The theater is for customers to see it being made right there, fresh off the line, and the store is then stocked with those items,” Logsdon said. “It allows people to see that magic of chocolate being made right in front of their eyes.”
Logsdon likened the theater to being with Willy Wonka for a little while. Of course, that appeals to children (and a great many adults as well) but there are also attractions of a more mature nature.
A fireplace surrounded by comfy chairs and couches calls out to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or two.
“The fireplace is one of our great touchpoints to sit on a nice chair or couch and just relax,” Logsdon said. “People seem to enjoy that space, for sure.”
Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet also has craft beer and has been in talks with local brewery Rolling Meadows to bring their beers to the store as well. The drinks can be accompanied by gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, salads and the aforementioned quiches.
“We wanted to really look at local partnerships, and it’s working out just as we hoped it would,” Logsdon explained.
While it may seem odd at first blush to find one store with everything from candy to pastries to fine cuts of meat, the multi-faceted approach seems to be working, according to Logsdon.
“It’s been lively. The space speaks for itself about what we’re trying to do and the experience we’re trying to create,” Logsdon said, before she responded to the question of further expansion of Pease’s at Bunn Gourmet. “That’s the number one question I get. One store at a time! We love the Pease’s brand and we love their traditional retail stores. We’re also taking the items we’re making now off the production lines and putting them in the other stores. It’s getting that brand consistency before anything else.”
Gabe House is a freelance
writer from Springfield.