Vancouverites can now get a taste of one of Whistler's favourite bakeries, Purebread, after the beloved shop opened its first location outside of the resort last month.
A fire last November devastated Purebread's village shop just months after opening, leaving owners Mark and Paula Lamming unsure of what the future held for their second location. Up until last month, that doubt remained, and although they now have the green light to re-open their Olympic Plaza spot before the New Year, in the meantime the ambitious couple set their sights on the big city.
"In some ways we moved down to Vancouver because we weren't able to get back up and running in Whistler and we had costs associated with a two-location operation that we were committed to," said Mark.
Although a Kickstarter campaign launched last month to help cover some of the costs to get their Vancouver bakery up and running was unsuccessful, the Lammings opened their 1,300-square-foot West Hastings location to much fanfare on Oct. 6.
"It's been amazing," Mark said. "We've had a lot of people coming in and a lot of people know us from the farmers markets in Vancouver. There are a lot of offices in the area, so when one person takes something back to their office at lunchtime, everyone else wants to know where it came from. Next thing you know, half the office comes down to the place."
When Purebread first opened the doors to its original Function Junction location over five years ago, it was one of the only places in Whistler (and largely still is) to find delicious homemade bread and a wide selection of delectable baked goods. In food-obsessed Vancouver, however, the Lammings are entering a crowded market of organic bakeries and gourmet food shops all vying for customers' hard-earned dollars. But that competition doesn't bother Mark one bit.
"What we're doing (in Vancouver) is not dissimilar to what we do in Whistler with our philosophy of providing a vast range of products to choose from that are all quite unique and different," Mark said, pointing to some of the early bestsellers at the Hastings location, like the lemon Earl Grey scone and the always-addictive crack bar.
"In Vancouver, they're blown away by the amount of selection that we have and I think that's what keeps them coming back. It's not just 10 things to choose from, it's 50 or 60."
Still, the Lammings recognize that what works in Whistler might not necessarily work in Vancouver, and Mark said they'll take some time to learn what their new customer base is after, with an eye towards possibly expanding into more savoury items for the lunch crowd.
"It's very much a 9 to 5 environment, so it's going to take a little bit of time to get used to that," he said.
With the last 12 months bookended by the village fire and the opening of its brand new location, Mark admits it's been a year marked by ups and downs. But through it all, the Lammings have relied on the unwavering support of their staff and the community to see them through it.
"If nothing else the last year has been a show of support from the community, which has been amazing, but also the resilience of our staff who've had to go through as much as we've gone through," Mark said.
"Whistler will always be the place we started in and the support's always been so strong for us there. It's not just customers who buy from us, but friends, and they've become such a big part of what we do."
Purebread's newest shop is located at 159 West Hastings St. in Vancouver. The village location is being targeted for a mid-December re-opening.
Visit www.purebread.ca for more information.