HELENA — Dan Norris is pretty good at figuring things out. That’s true when it comes to his home-based chocolate company called Bear Basecamp, and now steering the business during the pandemic.
”It’s just a matter of how much dedication, effort, and expense you want to pour into it to get going," said Norris. "Fortunately I wasn’t shy for that.”
Operating part-time from his Helena-area home, Dan hit the usual snags at the start of the pandemic that businesses across the country saw, such as cleaning supply shortages.
That is not so much of an issues now, but a problem still remains. “The biggest hurdle is just trying to figure out how to substitute the face-to-face interaction," said Norris. "Because those in-person events, you can give people free samples and, you know, it’s a lot easier to sell a food product when somebody can actually, you know, physically try it and be right there to ask you questions about how you’re making it.”
Because of the type of license Dan has from the county, he depends on events like craft fairs and farmer's markets.
But much like how he figured out how to make chocolate - his website says he is one of the only 'bean to bar' chocolate manufacturers in Montana - Dan is now learning from trial and error and online resources to keep his business going.
“So what I did was shifted to an online order model, so people can look at my website, see the products that I have, and request something via email," Norris said. "And then I can just set up a time with them to drop it off at their house and I can either take pay online or in person, whatever works for them. So that’s been enough to at least keep me sustainable for the last year.”
Hopefully, that will change for the better this year moving forward. But if not, Bear Basecamp will adjust and keep moving forward.