News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Creating a ‘chocolate Cheers’ in Sisters

Shaunette White and her family celebrated the opening of their new chocolate and confection shop. They’ve transformed the former Cork Cellars location at the corner of Cascade Avenue and Pine Street with elbow grease and fresh paint in turquoise and white, producing a sleek, welcoming new look.

“We tried to create a space where people of any age can come and hang out, and everyone feels comfortable,” she said, during the shop’s busy opening day.

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, White stood with her husband, children, and friends, smiling and celebrating the opening of a new community space full of artisan chocolates, hand-dipped candy apples, macarons in a rainbow of colors, and an array of other hand-made sweets.

White says 45 percent of the products they sell are made by her.

“Anything we outsource is either local or another small, family-run, hand-done business. Nothing is machine-made. That was important to us,” she said. “We use Sno Cap’s hard ice cream. We try to do as much local sourcing as we can.”

White has a built-in source of little workers with four children at home. Her three youngest children were adopted last year. Giving them a forever home was something White didn’t have growing up.

“I grew up in foster care and never got adopted, so I wanted to do that for other children,” said White.

The idea to open a candy shop started when White was in foster care. She remembered getting treat coupons when she played Little League.

“It was the only time I got treats,” she recalled. “Every Saturday I took the treat coupon to the snack shack and got four Tootsie Rolls. That memory is imbedded in me. Candy just makes you happy. I wanted a business where everybody comes in happy,

and if you are sad, you usually are buying something to give to someone to make them feel better.”

To carry on the treat coupon idea, every Saturday kids from Little League will get a High Desert Chocolates coupon for a single-dip marshmallow or half off a dipped apple.

“I want to do that because you never know if that’s the only time they get a treat,” she said.

The Whites have six children in total. Two are out of the nest and married. Even with their full house and busy life,

White decided to start a business.

“I’m not one to sit at home,” she said.

The family moved to Sisters to give their children the benefits of life in a small town.

“Since we moved here, our kids just love it. The schools have welcomed us with open arms. My husband, Lanie, and I were from the Portland area and always came here on vacations” said White, watching her children greet new customers.

“We didn’t open the store to make a million dollars; our decision was all about community and our kids being a part of that. I envision this like the iconic “Cheers” bar, where people walk in and are greeted by a person behind the counter who knows what they want to order. Kind of a chocolate Cheers,” she said with a laugh.

High Desert Chocolates is located at 391 W. Cascade Ave.


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