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'Build local' theme for expansion

Keehner: People need to realize that 'Milwaukie is a gem'

Chocolates, popcorn and Paris - a business combination made in heaven for Kim Keehner, owner of Enchanté.

And now heaven just got a little bigger, well, a lot bigger, since Keehner moved her enchanting sweet shop to larger quarters on the corner of Main and Monroe in downtown Milwaukie, going from 1,000 square feet to 2,300 square feet.

Two huge advantages to the new shop: larger retail space, so she can offer more French-made products, and two separate kitchens, one devoted exclusively to popcorn and the other to chocolate.

'Heat and chocolate don't mix - there is a lot of heat with popcorn, so we used to have to wait 24 hours for the kitchen to cool down. Now we can run both kitchens at the same time,' she said.

Keehner makes the majority of the chocolates on site, including all the molded chocolates, caramels, peanut brittles and truffles.

Now that she has expanded into a larger space, she would like to explore wholesale business opportunities and hopes to expand her retail product line.

Milwaukie a 'gem'

Keehner really had not thought about moving until one day this past April when Ed Aaron, the owner of the building on the corner, came in and told her she really ought to consider relocating to his newly renovated property.

'I couldn't get the idea out of my mind - it came out of left field,' she said.

The more she thought about it - the more she liked it, she said, adding that at her former site she had outgrown the kitchen two years ago.

Once she decided to move into the building that used to house men's clothier The Gay Blade, she made a conscious decision to use Milwaukie-based contractors to turn the empty shell into her dream shop.

For people who say there is nothing in Milwaukie, Keehner politely disagrees.

'There is so much in Milwaukie; the resources are fabulous. Milwaukie is a gem, but people just haven't figured that out yet.'

Mitch Stanley, of Stanley Renovation and Design, located right next door, was her main contractor.

'Mitch is amazing. I could never have done this without him standing next to me. Every day they did whatever it took to pull this together - I owe them a debt of gratitude,' Keehner said.

Patrick Jones of 12.500 Commercial Window Coverings, also nearby on Main Street, did all her shades and drapes; she also worked with Pyramid Heating and Cooling, located on International Way, and a countertop company in Oak Grove.

Keehner takes delight in pointing out details that help create the French ambiance she loves so much.

'The day the first crystal chandelier arrived I was ready to do my happy dance. The door hardware features fleur de lis - the décor is simple French elegance,' she said, noting that she had to hand-design the scalloped cornice boards for each window because the windows in the new space were all different sizes.

'Happy place'

The night before the new and improved shop officially opened on Aug. 2, Keehner hosted an open house that drew 225 people to downtown Milwaukie.

'So many people volunteered their time, effort and energy to make this happen - we needed a night to celebrate,' she said.

Milwaukie Popcorn was the first business in Keehner's former site, opening in 1930 and selling only popcorn. Then she and her mother, who passed away in 2008, took over the business in 1995, and her mother chose the name Enchanté.

The two women then broadened the focus of the shop to include chocolates and other candy items and gifts, many with a Parisian theme.

Keehner added, 'I've been in the business for 17 years and I don't regret a day of it. I love coming to work, I love my customers and I love being here - it is my happy place. Milwaukie has been great to me. I hear people in the shop talking about going other places in Milwaukie for lunch or a movie - that is a win.'

Fast Facts

• What: Enchanté - Enchanting Little Things

• Where: 10883 S.E. Main St., Milwaukie, 503-654-4846

• Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.