The Storm Riders series aims to celebrate the strength of our industry while highlighting some of the many ways businesses have overcome the challenges resulting from COVID-19. We are proud to showcase how the following businesses have adapted while celebrating the people who are at the heart of what we do. In this post, we hear from Kim and Cam Shaw at Chocolate Tofino.
Why do you do what you do?
The main reason we do what we do is people. Yes, we are passionate about making the best chocolates and gelato you’ve ever had, but our true motivator is people and the relationships we develop. Whether it’s relationships with repeat customers who visit again and again and send us gifts at Christmas, or locals who bring in each of their children for their first tastes of gelato, or young team members that we tutor in math homework or teach driving lessons to, it’s all about relationships.
Locals were so happy when we chose to remain open during COVID. It brought a sense of hope to the community during uncertain times, and allowed residents to feel like they were part of something bigger when they bought a pint of gelato or a box of chocolates. We began doing free deliveries during COVID as a service to the community, and would drive a half pint of gelato and a little bag of chocolates to locals who were unable to leave their houses. Many residents expressed that we were one of the businesses that they chose to spend their limited funds at to ensure that we could stay open. We worked nearly every day, and often into the night, to make, package and serve the product that locals often joked was an “essential service”. While we were stretched and emotionally and physically exhausted, serving the community and bringing joy to as many as we could carried us through the really tough times. It also helped us pay the rent and hydro bills and enabled us to stay just ahead of expenses.
What do you want people to know of your business?
We are all about having fun and making high quality handmade chocolate and gelato. When it’s pouring rain, and you walk into our shop, that warm chocolate smell will put a smile on anyone’s face. We craft all of our chocolates fresh, in small batches, with as many local and organic ingredients as we can get our hands on. We juice our own raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, source organic lavender florets from local Island farms, and use no artificial flavours, colours or preservatives.
During power outages, you may see line ups out the doors of our little shop: we have a legendary half-price sale on all gelato when the power’s out! Being this remote, connected to civilization only by one power line that travels across the precarious and oft-stormy Island, we get frequent power outages in Tofino. In the past, before we had generators, we used to have these sales to “save the gelato!”. Even when we got set up with generators and are now prepared for outages, we thought it would be fun to continue our tradition. School kids would make plans with friends to meet at Chocolate Tofino if the power went out, and nurses at the hospital will send someone with a big list of everyone’s requests. The main goal at the end of the day is a smile on everyone’s face 🙂
What are 3 must-stop recommendations visitors should check out near you?
The following 3 businesses are small businesses, locally owned and run. They focus on quality ingredients, hand-making everything they sell, and are also wonderful human beings. They support the community in large and small ways. They may be a little hard to find, so send people their way!
Picnic Charcuterie (Tina) – badass lady butcher who makes amazing sausages and naturally preserved meats and cheese and can whip up the best charcuterie platter you’ve ever seen. *Tina was one of our biggest inspirations and encouragers for fighting for our business during COVID.*
Wildside Grill (Jesse) – best fish and chips you’ve ever had, hands-down. Owned by a local fisherman and a chef, everything is made from scratch. *Rick Mercer swears they’re the best fish tacos he’s ever had.*
The spark to own/work in this business must motivate you each day. – what are some of your past experiences that have contributed to this spark.
Visiting Tofino is a very personal experience, and guests often take ownership of the community – many come every year at the same time, stay in the same places, and recreate meaningful experiences at their favorite spots and businesses. While we make chocolate and ice cream, we also create guest experiences that reflect all the things they love about Tofino. When you sit on our little patio in the sun, it’s this little picture perfect memory that you just want to recreate again and again. Many visitors are passionate about Tofino and share that passion for Chocolate Tofino. We want to be that picture perfect memory for our visitors for a long time to come.
The Storm Riders series highlights how island-based businesses are adapting to new challenges brought on by COVID-19. If you’re a business and would like to share your story, please contact Darsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.