ROCKLAND, Maine — A 25-year-old entrepreneur from New York has selected Rockland as a location in which to expand her chocolate business.
Kate McAleer hopes to have Bixby & Co. open in downtown Rockland by spring. She filed an application Thursday with the city’s code enforcement office to locate in three suites at 279 Main St., at the intersection with Park Drive.
Bixby & Co. was formed in 2011 by McAleer and her mother, Donna McAleer. The family business makes handmade chocolate bars formulated by Kate McAleer. She said the bars are produced with organic or natural ingredients that include nuts, dried fruit and spices.
The younger McAleer said she came up with the idea when she was playing on the golf team while attending New York University in New York City. The snack of choice for most teammates was candy bars, but she wanted a healthier choice and came up with the idea of starting the business.
She said she used her experiences traveling in France and China to come up with creative recipes using exotic spices for the bars.
The business name originated in the family. Her great-great-grandmother was Lillian Bixby.
The business is now based in Warwick, N.Y. McAleer said her parents, Donna and Gordon McAleer, have vacationed in the midcoast since she was a baby. Her parents are retiring and are moving to the midcoast.
She said that with the significant tourist traffic, Rockland was the logical choice to move her business. The Rockland location will allow her to open a retail store.
The bars are now sold retail online but also are sold at Whole Foods stores in New England and the Pacific Northwest, several speciality shops in New England and the Good Tern Co-op in Rockland.
All Bixby & Co. bars are gluten-free and genetically unmodified foods. The dark chocolate bars are vegan.
She said her family has been focused on organic.
“I’ve reinvented the chocolate bar to make it healthy,” she said.
She is a YouthTrade-certified entrepreneur, meaning she is younger than 35 with a sustainable and conscientious business. She uses Rainforest Alliance-certified chocolate, meaning there is no destruction of the rain forest nor is their use of unfair labor practice in the production of the chocolate.