When Karen Vogler was looking to re-join the workforce after staying home to raise her family, Purdy’s Chocolates was a sweet idea.
That was 13 years ago, and after joining Purdy’s as a sales clerk, her experience and the opportunities afforded by the B.C. company led to her current position as store manager of Purdy’s Bay Centre location.
“It’s just a great company,” Vogler says. “It’s a company that treats you with respect and gives you opportunities to succeed.”
Over its 107-year history, Purdy’s has grown from one store on Vancouver’s Robson Street to 62 stores in three provinces.
While the scope of its delicious chocolates and other offerings has also grown over the years, at the root of all Purdy’s products is the company’s founding philosophy and cornerstone recipes.
After moving to Vancouver with a pocketful of recipes, Richard Purdy began by crafting his chocolates by hand from home, but soon built a reputation that required a storefront and more space, including a soda fountain and other necessities of the day.
“It was quite a hub for the city where people would gather and socialize,” Vogler says.
“It’s always been about passion, tradition and the quality of our products,” she notes, recalling how when faced with wartime shortages during the Second World War, Purdy’s elected to buy its own farm rather than sacrifice quality with lesser ingredients.
“A lot of the recipes have stood the test of time, many since 1907 and created by Mr. Purdy himself,” she notes.
That commitment has continued to this day, with ingredients that are fresh, local when available, and always of a quality worthy of the Purdy’s name. “There’s a great pride, right from the CEO to the clerks working in the stores,” Vogler says.
While embracing its history, the company has also been at the forefront of chocolate innovation, she adds, pointing to newcomers like dark chocolate Sweet Georgia Browns, a favourite for many chocolate and caramel fans.
Innovations also come in the way Purdy’s conducts business in the regions in which it buys its cocoa, like the Ivory Coast, where the company has invested in schools, children’s daycamps, vocational training and micro loans, often for the women working in the industry.
In the local community, Purdy’s is committed to offering fundraising support for sports teams, schools and other organizations.
Guests at this week’s Black Press Women in Business gala were treated to a sampling of those flavours in a special chocolate tasting hosted by Purdy’s.
Among the new products is the single-plantation, 72-per-cent dark chocolate from Peru and Ecuador – another innovation that has kept the company a local favourite for more than a century.