Bookstores and restaurants may be closing, but downtown still has four stores with “chocolate” in their names: Kilwin’s Chocolates, Schakolad Chocolate Factory, Carillon Chocolates, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.

Still, when the economy crashed last fall, the chocolatiers found themselves in a new world overnight.

Scott Huckestein, who owns Schakolad with his wife, Dianna, says they’d had “double-digit growth since the inception,” but “this year we’re flat.” It would have been far, far worse without its huge corporate business. “Our sales are running about 80-20 for corporate versus walk-in,” Huckestein says. His biggest client is the U-M–Schakolad has done chocolates depicting the renovated Rackham Building and the new Ross School of Business.

Rocky Mountain co-owner Angela Eddins says her family’s business was growing steadily until the recession hit, and then “we were hanging on by our fingernails this summer.” The Girl Scouts came to her rescue. Eddins, a leader and former scout, took out an ad in a scout publication inviting troops to earn a “sweet shop” merit badge by taking a class at Rocky Mountain. The response, Eddins says, was “awesome. They made the difference between life and death.”

Alex Molnar bought what was then the Chocolate House last spring from his aunt and uncle, Vickie and Rob Ponitz. Molnar changed the name to Carillon Chocolates and added coffee, lattes, and espresso to the menu, plus more seating. So far, Molnar says, “the economy’s been tough, and our sales are off of what they were a year ago”–but “the best hot chocolate in town” is keeping him afloat.

“It’s not like the Clinton years,” says Chera Tramontin, co-owner of Kilwin’s with her mother Karen Piehutkoski, “but we’re holding steady, and last year we showed an increase.” Though they added ice cream in the nineties and caramel apples earlier this decade, chocolates still make up 80 percent of sales.

“Chocolate is a feel-good drug,” says Tramontin. “It’s one of the last thing people take out of their life, so why change?”