January 20, 2004 > Village Treasures
A Sensual Delight
If the delightful decorations and bright, cheerful atmosphere doesn't get you, the sight and smell of fine chocolate will! Moving into the seventh year of business, Connie Andrade says her previous work over 13 years with flowers was enjoyable, but the chilly room temperature necessary to keep flowers fresh became difficult due to arthritis. "I loved working at the flower shop (Fremont Flower Pavilion next door to Village Treasures) but my body didn't like the cold."
"A constant dream of mine was to have my own store," says Connie. In 1997, fortune was smiling as she talked with her husband, Michael, about starting a business of her own. He said, "Go for it!" and has helped throughout the growth of the business. Her children were growing up - her youngest daughter, a sophomore in high school - and a nearby space was available. "I wanted a different kind of gift store that was unique and concentrated on quality, presentation and gift wrapping."
So, "with a little push from my family and friends," Village Treasures opened its doors on December 7, 1997 and Connie's vision became reality. The name, Village Treasures, came from the local reference to Mission San Jose as "The Village." Putting the store together was accomplished in a about a month and a half. A whirlwind of activity - "the fastest thing I have ever done!" - included taking everything out of the store space, stripping the floors, painting and bringing in new merchandise. Connie says, "To do that at the end of the year is very hard, especially in the middle of the winter holiday season, as we did."
Connie wanted to focus on fine chocolates since the Tri-City area had very little to offer consumers. She wanted to be an outlet for high quality names such as Joseph Schmidt. "I knew that I wanted candy in the store - not just to be a candy store, but to have a candy case of fine chocolates." Moonstruck and Joseph Schmidt chocolates and truffles and an extensive line of Devine Delight petit fours currently dominate the case, but other fine candies such as Michelle's can be found here as well. An unusual Joseph Schmidt delicacy, found at Village Treasures, is called a "slick." This round, flattened chocolate "truffle" comes in 12 different flavors!
While a basic line of chocolates, truffles and petit fours can be found at Village Treasures year 'round, there are special varieties that appear seasonally. "It just depends on the season," says Connie. In the past Easter and Valentines Day have been the busiest times for chocolates at Village Treasures, but now demand is growing throughout the year. "Word of mouth [and taste too!] has spread the news that Village Treasures is the place to go for fine, gourmet chocolates."
A second major focus of Village Treasures is high quality baby clothing. Connie wanted to provide a selection of infant to 24 month clothing comparable to shopping at upper end department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy's, but with her personal touch. This approach has worked well and Village Treasures has gathered a loyal following of customers for baby clothes and accessories. The baby section has now expanded from a single cabinet in the early years of the store to an entire room. In the "baby room," shoppers can find a nice selection of outfits for baby's first trip home from the hospital, christening clothing, outfits and soft blankets, including a special satin and velvet combination from Little Giraffe. Connie says that she looks for specialty domestically manufactured brands like Heartstrings, Le Top and Little Things. Novelties including stuffed animals and specialty items such as hot water bottles in animal shapes peek out from clothing racks, so close inspection is necessary to appreciate the selection available. Village Treasures now has a new line of infant clothing that specializes in sizes for premature births. Connie says that she has had many requests for "premmie" clothes and they are difficult to find. "We just got our first order of premmie clothes so we now carry from premmie to 24 months."
As seasons change, so does Village Treasures. Heart shapes and Valentine sentiments currently dominate the store, but there is still room for other specialty items as well. Blue Sky and Clay Works items can be found at the store along side tea pots, crystal and, following the theme of the annual Mission San Jose Olive Festival, some Tuscany style pottery ware. Kennebunkport blankets fill a sideboard and a newer product addition, bamboo cutting boards, have found a niche here. A case filled with gourmet treats, adds another dimension to Village Treasures. Here, special olive oils, dipping oils and salad dressings share space with French sea salt, spices, marinades and gourmet hot chocolate mix. "We go to the fancy food show once a year and see what's new and what we want to present. The quality has to be there before we bring it into the store."
The guiding principle of Village Treasures is to offer high quality merchandise and superior presentation. This means that when customers walk out of Village Treasures with a purchase, large or small, it will be beautifully wrapped. Connie comments, "We may receive gift wrapped items from vendors during holiday seasons, but we always add a little extra. You may recognize a Joseph Schmidt box, but the wrapping from Village Treasures will always have a bit extra, not found anywhere else." A Village Treasure gift achieves the pinnacle of giving since it not only represents a thoughtful sentiment from one person to another, but also sends a message by its attractive appearance even before it is opened. "We don't charge for wrapping. It is my way of saying 'Thank You' to our customers."
Connie and Mike Andrade along with Melanie Smith, who has been working side by side with Connie for the last four years at the store, invite you to visit their shop and experience the "treasure" of Mission San Jose. Whether baby clothes, specialty items or, of course, chocolate, that special item to celebrate a special occasion can be found here.
A unique service from Village Treasures this Valentine's Day will be the addition of local delivery of chocolate from the store to that special someone on February 13th or 14th. Chocolate has been linked with health and happiness - why not send or bring home a package of joy for Valentine.
Fine Chocolates & Gifts
(across from Ohlone College)
43393 Mission Blvd., Fremont