A Stoughton pottery shop owner has found an unexpected financial savior in a treat many people find delectable — chocolate.
Green Road Pottery, located in Stoughton’s downtown, is also Yahara Chocolate — and increasingly, the key to keeping Brook Johnson’s business afloat during a time where unemployment levels mirror that of the Great Depression.
Johnson told the Hub where pottery sales have fallen, chocolate sales have taken off. He said he anticipates sales to double and even quadruple as the COVID-19 pandemic carries on.
It’s the simple premise that people love chocolate, he said, that is likely to help sales. They also love learning about it. And Johnson has always loved educating people — among his many curiosities.
“When one thing is down, I just pivot and switch to something else,” he said.
Yahara Chocolate offers free next-day delivery for customer orders for free shipping anywhere in the country.
Where his main business is teaching about pottery, chocolate and other areas of interest for Johnson — even Lego engineering, he’s also found a way to bring those classes to customers virtually.
So with all those adaptations, it’s evident Yahara Chocolate will fare just fine, as hopefully will Green Road Pottery, Johnson said. He said he even might start making his own dishes, coffee mugs and other kitchen wares for the chocolate portion of his business — both to use and sell.
“Having the chocolate side has saved everything,” Johnson said.
Years of passion
Before the pandemic, there was a man who always sought to turn his curiosities into something digestible, literally and figuratively.
Johnson has always loved making pottery and enjoying chocolate even from when he was in middle school, and he attended college to study biology and specialize in genetics. After graduating, Johnson said, he found himself selling his sculptures — his dad bought him a potter’s wheel to celebrate.
That spawned stints of traveling and attending art fairs for a few years, until Johnson started teaching classes at a community college. He then discovered his passion for educating others.
So in 2008, Johnson moved to Stoughton, buying his current Main Street building for more space to teach. He didn’t have the intention of doing art fairs anymore, so Johnson had to strategize a means to sell his pottery. Being downtown helped, rather than squeezing into a home studio previously. It made pottery more accessible to the community.
It all came full circle when five years ago, Johnson started offering mini-courses about chocolate. He said many people don’t realize even bitter dark chocolate is tasty.
“It opened people’s eyes … showing those who think all chocolate you ever eat is milk chocolate.”
A new storefront
Eight years into owning his Stoughton space, Johnson reached capacity in his building with all the classes he was teaching and the “sales were never quite there.”
“I found a chocolate wholesaler,” he said. “I bought cases of 20 of my favorite chocolates and put them in one little tiny corner on one of my display shelves.”
That little display corner turned into the full-fledged Yahara Chocolate storefront — one that used to house Johnson’s pottery — with 125 different types of bars, all curated by Johnson.
The increase in chocolate sales has been exacerbated by the pandemic, Johnson said, and he expects they will only increase from here. That could, he hopes, help keep Green Road Pottery afloat, as well.
“I’ve only scratched the surface of the clientele that exists,” he said.