Tea drinkers in town have long known Velma’s Candy, Tea and Gifts on Marine Avenue as the top shop for their best brew. What many people don’t realize, though, is that it is also Powell River’s choice for fine chocolate.
Shop owner Velma Richmond says she has seen a steady increase in demand for local, organic, fair trade chocolate since she started selling it next to her handcrafted Turkish delights and caramels, candies which made her famous. After selling out all of her chocolate last Christmas, it became clear to her that the shop should be more chocolate focused, she says.
Velma starting stocking locally-made MAD Chocolates but found customer demand greater than supply and started looking outside of town for other brands to add to her store. She contacted Cobble Hill’s Organic Fair Chocolates, Victoria’s Tout de Sweet Confections, and Vancouver’s Daniel Le Chocolat Belge.
“Selling chocolate has taken off really well,” says Velma. “People know that if they want something of quality with a beautiful presentation, they can come here and I’ll have it.”
Velma is particularly pleased to be selling Daniel Chocolates.
“They are very good quality Belgian chocolates with lovely packaging and the price is not outrageous,” she says. “They are ideal for someone who wants a quick little gift, under $10, to say thank you.”
For the past three decades, Belgian-born Vancouverite Daniel Poncelet has been bringing joy to Canadians with his decadent Belgian chocolate delights, she adds.
All of his chocolate is imported from Europe, 100 per cent natural and totally free of preservatives, artificial colourings, flavours, and hydrogenated, vegetable and tropical fats, says Richmond.
“Christmas is one of the biggest selling times for chocolate, which makes a wonderful gift,” she adds.
This year Velma says she wants to ensure her customers will not be disappointed when they come down looking for sweet gifts, so she is putting together her Christmas order to Daniel Chocolates. Richmond has Daniel’s Christmas catalogue and is encouraging her customers to come by the shop to pre-order before Friday, November 23.
“I encourage people to come down to the shop earlier rather than later in order to guarantee they’ll get their chocolates,” she says.
Daniel offers a range of chocolates from small boxes to large, chocolate-covered almonds, various types of truffles, hot chocolate mixes, sea salt caramel, ginger-candied dark chocolate and ice wine chocolates, to name a few.
Velma says she is helping to organize the upcoming Raincoast Craft Fair next month and will be taking Daniel orders at her table. Raincoast runs from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, November 17, and 10 am to 3 pm on Sunday, November 18, at Dwight Hall.
Locally produced chocolate aside, she also sells Giddy Yoyo raw chocolate, which she says has “a nice flavour, is not overly bitter and sweet enough.”
Velma says raw chocolate is the health food industry’s best-kept secret.
“It is five times more nutritious than the darkest chocolate you can find that’s been processed,” she adds.
Giddy Yoyo is a great choice for a person with food allergies, explains Velma, adding that the company guarantees its chocolate is free of gluten, nuts and soy.
Velma’s Candy, Tea and Gifts has a broad selection of loose-leaf teas and has something for everyone.
“We have a very good selection of teas. I feel like this is a tea vault or tea cellar,” she says. “Everything is organic and fair trade.”
Velma says that if the store does not have a particular tea, she is happy to place special orders for customers.
“Most people come here for the chocolate and the tea,” she says. “If you love tea or you love chocolate, this is the shop for you.”
Velma’s is located at 4660B Marine Avenue, next door to The Cut Hairstyling, and open from noon to 5 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays and by appointment.
For more information, contact Velma by phone at 604.414.3704 (texts okay) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Velma’s Candy, Tea and Gifts is also on Facebook.