Purdys Chocolatier is planning to open up three pop-up locations in new markets in Alberta & BC for the very first time in November.
Kriston Dean, VP of Sales & Marketing, said Purdys has been working with landlords on vacant commercial retail units they have available in different markets.
“We’ve created a modular fixturing package that allows us to go into any vacant CRU and configure however we need to based on that particular square footage or layout of store,” said Dean.
“It will appear to be real fixtures in a real CRU. It will appear as if we are a real store and we are planning to be there from November 1 in these locations through April. So through all of our big chocolate season we will stay open in these locations.
“The only thing we’re not able to do in a temporary or a pop-up store from a Purdys perspective is two things – ice cream because we’re not getting into plumbing and all those things and the loose chocolates which you can pick from the case. Everything’s pre-packaged gifts, seasonal gifts, and then chocolate bars and snacks. But it will appear like a regular store.”
Dean said the company has studied its customer behaviour from all of its channels. And when it looked at the data for where they were shopping online and through its various programs, and looked at all the comments from social media, the company identified about 15 markets in Canada that were significant for it.
“Being a sensory product like chocolate we know the physical store is really important for our experience. We took a look at these 15 markets and then it was conversations with landlords and what’s available. Not everyone has an available space that will work for us and we ended up with these three markets for our first test.”
The pop-up stores will be in Fort McMurray, Alberta (Peter Pond Mall), Cranbrook, BC (Tamarack Centre) and Courtenay, BC, on Vancouver Island (Driftwood Mall).
“We’re taking this as our first test. We’re going to learn a lot through Christmas for sure and we’re hoping this becomes a regular (plan). There’s a couple of things that can happen from these pop-ups,” said Dean. “Either the market is really strong and we decide to look for a permanent location if there is one for us to take in those markets and turn it into a permanent or we look at the opportunity to continue to come back the following Christmas.
“And we’re already looking for Christmas 2024 on additional markets that we can get CRUs in.”
The company has 81 stores from Vancouver Island to as far east as Ottawa. Its permanent stores are between 700 to 900 square feet. The pop-ups in some cases are 1,200 square feet.
In the past summer, the company has been busy renovating some of its existing stores.
A newly-renovated Purdys at CF Market Mall in Calgary opened on September 23.
“We’ve had five or six renovations this summer,” said Dean. “We do all of our renovations in the summer because Christmas, Valentine’s, Easter (is busy). That’s kind of our build time – June to September.
“The Market Mall renovation is a full layout, new fixture, new design, total rehaul. We put out a newer design package just before COVID in 2019. We started building with this new design and approach.”
Purdys also doubled its size at the West Edmonton Mall during the summer.
“We are still looking for permanent locations to expand,” added Dean. But nothing is planned right now.
The company was founded in 1907 in downtown Vancouver when Richard Carmon Purdy started selling homemade chocolates. The first chocolate shop opened at 915 Robson Street.