A family-owned chocolatier that has been operated out of Cambridge for the last 70 years has opened its newest shop in the Old Quebec Street Mall.
Carrie Peart and her brother Ted Drew-Smith recently purchased Reids Chocolates from their parents, who themselves took over operating the business in 1971.
The new owners literally grew up in the company’s flagship Ainslie Street store in Cambridge.
“The way we split the business is pretty much how my parents did it — Ted is doing what my dad did, I am doing what my mom did,” said Carrie.
Parents Tom and Kathy Drew-Smith are still involved in the business and helped to set up the Guelph store.
“They do a lot for us outside of the stores, they do some of our deliveries, mom comes on my buying trips — that kind of stuff,” said Carrie.
“Our parents are quite happy to be retired,” added Ted.
The business had been operated out of a single store on Main Street in Cambridge until 1981, when the Ainslie Street store opened.
In the last month the business has experienced its largest expansion to date, which includes the store in the Old Quebec Street Mall, as well as a new factory and store on Elgin Street in Cambridge. Both opened in only the past few weeks.
Carrie said the store sells specialty chocolates made with fresh, quality ingredients. Many of the recipes haven’t changed and some customers have been coming back to Reids for generations.
“It’s neat to be a part of peoples’ family traditions,” said Carrie.
Even some members of the staff are generational.
“We’re a family business, we consider our staff to be like family. Most of our staff are family members of other staff from the past,” said Ted.
Originally a specialty nut shop, the business was converted into a chocolatier by Mr. Reid 70 years ago. Even now, Reids Chocolates still roasts its own nuts, which Carrie said makes a big difference in its recipes.
The new downtown store will offer a shorter drive for the chocolaitier’s Guelph customers.
Carrie said expanding to Guelph was a natural step for the business.
“It’s a super supportive community, we are really happy to be a part of it,” she said.
Opening the new store just before Christmas is strategic, Ted said the business does most of its sales in the six weeks before the holiday.
“It’s a grind to get the stuff made but it’s satisfying to see it all fly off the shelves,” he said.
The business does sell some wholesale, but Ted said 70 to 80 per cent of its sales are made through the stores.
“We have stuff you’re not going to find at the corner store. It’s supposed to be something special,” he said.