With Christmas fewer than 80 days away, people needing to buy gifts for food-obsessed friends and family need look no further than Marine Avenue.
For the past six years Velma Richmond, owner of Velma’s Candy, Tea and Gifts, has been providing Powell River tea and chocolate connoisseurs with one of the most delicious shop-local options.
“We have wonderful teas here; people don’t need to travel to the city or go online to find them,” says Velma. “They’re right here in our little town.”
The same is true for chocolate, she adds.
Velma’s shop, which started out as a pop-up candy store that also sold tea, has now transformed itself into a loose-leaf tea shop that also sells sweets.
“I've got BC-made specialty chocolates here and very locally-made chocolates from MAD Chocolates in Cranberry,” says Velma. “All are very much worth a try.”
Velma carries a wide selection of BC-made Daniel Chocolates fine Belgian chocolates, perfect for Christmas gifts, she says.
Velma will be at this year’s Raincoast Christmas Craft Fair at Dwight Hall on November 16 and 17 with chocolate samples for customers stopping by her table.
In addition to loose-leaf tea and chocolate, Velma also sells gifts at her shop, including all the accessories necessary to brew a perfect cup. She has a wide assortment of reasonably-priced fine bone china, high-quality mugs, French presses, teapots, stainless steel tea balls, glass tea travel mugs, and infusers.
Velma also sells gemstones and jewellery, including bracelets, necklaces, pendants and polished and raw crystals.
“I have a very good selection, probably the best collection of gemstones in town right now,” she says.
Velma's most popular black tea is Earl Grey. Her most popular green tea is Japanese-style green tea Sencha. Her most popular herbal tea is Urban Earth’s Lullaby blend, which is produced locally by Mara Jones.
The store sells only loose-leaf tea, never in nylon bags, which have been shown to shed microplastic particles when steeped in 95-degree Celsius water.
“I only sell loose-leaf tea, so you always see what you're getting,” explains Velma. “You get better quality, better flavour, and better value for your money.”
She also sells a variety of therapeutic teas that can assist in a multitude of ways to improve health, and stocks basic teas, such as black, green, Rooibos, or herbal, and even flavoured blends.
“Not everybody is drinking just one kind of tea,” she adds. “I find a lot of my customers are looking for the excitement of caramel, strawberry or cinnamon in their tea. I’ll always carry the basic ones but there are always those who are looking for something new.”
Velma purchases her teas through Canadian suppliers and importers. Notable is Silk Road Teas, a Canadian company specializing in importing premium, rare and artisanal teas from China. Velma explains that the owner spent many years living in China and makes regular tea buying trips there.
“She has a particular sense of quality, especially when it comes to creating her fermented Pu'erh tea blends,” says Velma. “If she can't get what she is looking for, she will discontinue the blend and that can be a little frustrating for customers.”
Although not stocked on the shelves, customers can purchase unblended Pu'erh by request, she says.
“Customers can always come in to make special orders,” adds Velma. “That's always open. I really aim to please my customers.”
Velma's Candy, Tea and Gifts, located at 4660B Marine Avenue, is open from noon to 5 pm, Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Velma says she honours her posted store hours, but on occasion needs to close the store to step out for appointments. To avoid disappointment, she asks customers who are making a special point to drive into Powell River to visit her shop to call ahead to ensure she is open.
Velma can be reached at 604.414.3704 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find Velma's Candy, Tea and Gifts on Facebook.