TAMPA - A Tampa Bay area soldier who served in Iraq came home armed with the desire to make the most out of life. And now his mission is to make each day a little sweeter. Not just for him, but for everyone he encounters.
He's barely slept after working until midnight, but Archie Bourne is back in his South Tampa shop, Schakolad. In front of the shop and in the view of customers, he and his crew churn out thousands of pounds of homemade chocolate.
It comes in all shapes, from shoes to soccer balls, in all sorts of flavors.
But for this owner, spreading love goes beyond one holiday. "When I came home, I Googled 'businesses for sale,' and the sweetest thing came up, a chocolate factory,"
Bourne returned two years ago from the battlefields of Iraq. He knew nothing about being a chocolatier. He had been in the army since he was 17. But serving taught him to savor every moment.
"While we were over there, we had to do our duties and focus on the mission. The downfall is there is a life back home and we lose out on a lot of things, our loved ones," said Bourne.
He works hard to show support for those in the service. In fact, Bourne just hired one of his customers after connecting with her and her military background. Angie McDowell's husband is just home from Afghanistan.
"It was a nice feeling to support him and his business because he is out of the military," said McDowell.
Customers like Katie Ryan feel the same.
"Knowing that he was able to go out and do something so amazing for our country and bring it back and create sweetness, to us, is amazing," said Ryan.
The joys makes it easy for Bourne to burn the midnight oil and help create a perfect Valentine's holiday.
"I don't have that loved one. If I am able to fulfill that with someone else, I have done my job," said Bourne.
And he's not giving up. Maybe next year he'll have a Valentine of his own.
Bourne said if you want something special made out of chocolate, please call and ask him. He can create virtually anything out of chocolate.
Schakolad is located at 408 South Howard Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33606. You can contact the store by calling (813) 259-1099 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org