Small Town, Small Business, Big Family and Milford Myrtles

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Milford, MI — June 28, 2024

This story combines some of our favorite themes: small towns, small businesses, and family. Fenton is one of those small towns, and we are surrounded by many quaint villages that thrive on the peculiar familiarity of being like a big family.

Let us introduce you to a unique small business and its owner, Colleen LaClair.

Nestled in downtown Milford at 314 North Main Street, you’ll find a charming corner shop that stands out with its rustic charm and delicious chocolates. This is ‘Sweet Retreats ‘, a business that Colleen has lovingly owned and operated for the past 25 years.

Sweet Retreats, Milford / Lasco Press Photo

The location is the former site of Milford’s “Ye Olde Hotel.” When the building was torn down, the reception desk area was saved and converted into a commercial establishment. The shop has changed hands over the last century. But, Colleen has been a constant over the last quarter of that time.

Some residents might not remember the name of the shop, they just know it is Colleen’s place. Because she treated everyone like family when walked in the door to treat themselves to some of her hand made chocolate confections. Visiting with Colleen was an added bonus.

Sweets at Sweet Retreats / Lasco Press Photo

And that is the way it is in small towns all over America. It is probably one of the things that attract people to that lifestyle.

Life Rolls On

Colleen’s customers were shocked to learn that she was retiring. A party was organized to celebrate and half the town turned out. One of the stories that circulated during the event was the way some customers reacted when the shop was closed during the COVID era.

Fearful that the business closure might become permanent, people would see Colleen and hand her money. “Please don’t give up on our town, take this, I’m paying for my chocolate in advance, we can’t bear the thought of you closing for good.”

So, that might explain the turnout for her retirement party. Guest were thrilled to hear Colleen say, “Oh, I’ll still be around, I’ll pop in occasionally, I sold my business to my niece, it’s staying in the family.”

Colleen confided to us she would not miss the stress of holiday chocolate preparations and she was looking forward to spending more time with loved ones. She also confirmed she is still young enough to enjoy those activities. Good timing, Colleen.

When asked what she would miss the most about her shop. Colleen was quick to respond. “Greeting friends and visitors when they stopped in. I have so many great memories of the people here.” From the number of smiles and hugs shared at the party, it was obvious the feelings were mutual.

The Retirement Party / Lasco Press Photo

The Niece

Jessica Brooks grew up in Milford, as did her husband Dave Brooks. They understand local, they have lived the small town life, excelled in small business, and have the typical All-American family with daughter Sydney and son Brayden.

Both Families / Lasco Press Photo

Dave’s first job was just up the street from the chocolate shop, he worked for a local auto parts store. Jessica also worked in the retail automobile business with a local car dealership. When Dave took a job with the same dealer, they met and you can guess the rest from there.

Jessica applied what she learned in the industry, she owned and operated a wholesale used car import business. Dave went on to climb the supervisory ladder and is currently operations manager for the Lasco Auto Group. Overseeing sales and service for the group headed by Lasco Ford in Fenton. Jessica is the new owner of Sweet Retreats Chocolate Shoppe.

The Shop is a family affair also. Jessica’s Mom work behind the counter, Sydney helps out, and Brayden is the inventory quality control manager. In Brayden’s case I am not sure if that responsibility is an asset or liability.

Jessica, Dave, Dave’s Mom, and Colleen / Lasco Press Photo

You only need to talk to Jessica for a few minutes to realize her years in the car business developed an ingrained skill of making customers comfortable. The tradition of “every guest that enters the shop will leave a new friend” is sure to continue.

Don’t worry Colleen, the business is in good hands.

Chocolate and Milford Myrtles

If you think chocolate is chocolate, a trip to Sweet Retreats will quickly change your mind. Jessica likes to say, “Not All Chocolate is Created Equal.”

A longtime staple of Sweet Retreats is the Milford Myrtle. You probably have tried a conventional turtle candy with pecans and caramel covered in chocolate. A Milford Myrtle takes the experience to a new level. Bigger than the palm of your hand, oozing homemade caramel and smothered in chocolate that has a truly unique flavor, the Myrtle is Heavenly. Swap out the pecans for cashews and Oh My, a celestial moment in every bite.

Milford Myrtles / Lasco Press Photo

It’s easy to stop at the convenience store and grab a Hershey’s Bar, it will soon be just as easy to get Sweet Retreats delivered to your doorstep. Jessica plans to add on-line ordering to their website.

Another staple Colleen created is the Chocolate Covered Michigan Cherry Clusters. If it has been a while since you indulged yourself in gourmet chocolate, sneak out of the house, drive to Milford, load up a box of chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, nuts, cremes, and fruits.

Jessica serves up a box of “Sweet Retreats Chocolate” / Lasco Press Photo

Bet you don’t make it home before sampling the goodies. OH, and be sure it hide it from the kids. No one will judge you for making it an adult experience.