PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The last several months have been filled with a lot of “tricks” for Christine Azar. She owned two chocolate shops, called Azar Indulgences, in downtown Portland and had to shut them down due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Since then, she’s permanently closed one location.
“When I closed my shop I cried. I called my mom bawling my eyes out and she had to calm me down,” Azar said.
Her store relies a lot on business from nearby offices, theaters, and hotels – things that all but evaporated when the outbreak began impacting the city. On top of that, Azar has multiple sclerosis and the treatments she receives every six months deplete her immunity, leaving her more susceptible to the virus.
However, dealing with all these “tricks” hasn’t stopped Azar from wanting to share her treats.
After her store closed, Azar was left with a surplus of chocolate. When people started asking what they could do with their kids for Halloween, Azar had an idea. She posted to Facebook asking if parents would bring their kids by for bags of chocolate if she could think of a safe way to distribute it. Hundreds of people reacted positively to the post.
“I thought, I have candy. My shops have been closed. So, why not do something fun and have people come out and just do a drive-thru,” she said.
So, Azar dressed up as a fisherwoman and a friend fashioned her a 20-foot pole. Together, with a few friends, she strung bags of chocolate to the end of the pole and passed them to costumed kids in cars outside her Troutdale home.
After every car, Azar and her friends sanitized the pole.
“I think people are looking for a little bit of normalcy, a little bit of a routine,” Azar said, “and this gives them that. It’s different, but it’s still fun! We put a nice twist on it,” she said.
Parents were extremely thankful. Many told KOIN 6 News this was the only Halloween event they brought their kids to this year.
“I think chocolate is love. I think chocolate is happiness,” Azar said. “So that’s really what it is, is to just kind of spread some love, spread some happiness in the community.”
Azar is hoping to spread more love by reopening her remaining store near the Heathman Hotel in the next couple weeks. She says people can socially distance themselves in the Heathman Hotel lobby while enjoying their chocolate. She’ll be taking extra precautions with sanitation.
After everything this year has dealt her, Azar said it’s a blessing to reopen.