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In Pictures: 'A marriage of Greek pastries and chocolate'

Meli Baklava & Chocolate is a family business hoping to put their products onto bigger retailers’ shelves

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Taso Drakopoulos, co-owner, pours butter over baklavas before baking, at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. Mr. Drakopoulos works as a master pastry chef and chocolatier, having years of experience in perfecting his trade in Greece.

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Niki Drakopoulos, co-owner, makes assorted baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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It’s a family affair inside Unit 9 of a small industrial plaza in Scarborough, in eastern Toronto. And the goods are a marriage of Greek pastries and chocolate, writes Guy Dixon in the related article Business makes baklava and chocolates: Will stores bite?

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Assorted hand-crafted chocolate truffles and baklava at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto are pictured on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. The company uses a jewellery display concept in their showroom.

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In the front of Meli Baklava & Chocolate Inc.’s operations, there is a showroom display of fancy chocolates and desserts.

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Niki Drakopoulos, co-owner, makes assorted baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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Julie Kyriakaki, one of four co-owners, poses for a photograph at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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From left, Niki Drakopoulos, Julie Kyriakaki, Taso Drakopoulos and Kelly Drakopoulos, co-owners, pose for a photo in the showroom of their company, Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc., in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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Their small operation has been in business only since January, but their products are already on the shelves in specialty food shops such as McEwan, Coppa’s Fresh Market and Pusateri’s Fine Foods.

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Taso Drakopoulos, co-owner, makes assorted baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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“Our main goal right now is to promote the wholesale side of the business mostly,” and then to try to set up a number of small retail boutique stores around Toronto, Ms. Kyriakaki said.

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Niki Drakopoulos, co-owner, makes assorted baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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Interest appears to have quickly grown for their handcrafted chocolates and fancy baklava, “in varieties people don’t even know so much about,” Ms. Kyriakaki said.

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Assorted hand-crafted chocolate truffles and baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto are pictured on Wednesday, July 2, 2014. The company uses a jewellery display concept in their showroom.

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Niki, left, and Taso Drakopoulos, co-owners, makes assorted baklavas at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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Assorted baklavas are pictured at Meli Baklava and Chocolate Inc. in Toronto on Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

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Yet for any small business, cash flow can be a problem. Larger retailers are eager to take samples and place orders. But those same retailers can then be slow in paying for the goods. That is a problem for a small business with immediate bills and a lease to pay.

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The trick is to figure out what kind of retailers to target. Besides specialty food stores, she recommends high-traffic public markets, particularly Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market, for drumming up excitement and sussing out customers’ tastes. A less obvious option could be to set up a store within a store, or sell with a retailer such as Holt Renfrew.

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