Spice up your life a little…
You know when you meet someone and you realize that they have a lifetime of fascinating stories inside them but given the restrictions of space and time you are aware that the bit they have shared with you is like a drop in the ocean? Well such is the case with a couple named Nancy and Armando. I went down to Lonsdale Quay today to have a chit chat with the owners of one of my favorite stores in Vancouver, the Pepper Pot. Although I have been there many times before, I had never formally introduced myself and today I got to learn a little bit more about Nancy. What I got today was a verbal collage about some of the history of the store and how they got into the spice business.
Nancy told me today that they came to Vancouver from Hong Kong “years ago”. Armando was a bank manager and she had opened a deli on West Broadway called Duddy’s. The deli was very successful and she remembers people lined up down the street for Rueben sandwiches, corned beef on rye etc . She catered to some of the biggest companies in Vancouver including U.B.C. When the main chef passed away, Nancy sold the business and began many new business ventures all the while taking care of her two children.
They have worked the Lonsdale Quay market for “many, many years”. As we talked about her various business adventures, she pointed out to me all the different locations that they have occupied at the Quay. At the restaurant where the Roasted chicken restaurant is now, Nancy and Armando had a perogy place. They also rented a stall at one point where they sold fruits and vegetables. Another time they sold watches. They had a money market business where I think the Shiatsu Massage is now. I am sure there were more but writing down people’s thoughts is new for me and I was not sure of the balance between writing like a maniac and making the appropriate eye contact.
They have now settled at the Pepper Pot, and that too has a neat history. At one point they held cooking classes, teaching how to cook Thai, Singapore and other Asian cuisines. The Pepper Pot has also had other locations but they like the one they are in now because of the temperature. There is no sun to dry out the sauces and spices, which keeps everything as fresh as possible. She told me that you have to understand what people are cooking and what spices are needed for different styles of cooking. They get their spices from a very good company and chose not to stock as much but place orders more frequently. In her own words she said, “It is better to run out of something than to sell bad stuff”. I like that in a Spice store owner. When I asked her if she was going to do anything else, she said “No, I am getting old and I have a grand daughter now”.
If you are looking to stock up your cupboard with some new spices, make sure you visit them. They sell their spices in neat little zip lock pouches and you can’t beat the prices or the knowledge they offer. Never again will my cupboard be filled with a million glass bottled, green-topped McCormick spices. I now have a nice box with all my baggies of spices inside. They are always so helpful and have never not (negation use) had something I need. Their business adventures and quality of service is beyond commendable. I think they deserve a spice medal and I need to take the odd risk! Also, try to find a great local spice store in your area. Help the underdog!!