Downtown business offers over 100 ingredients and much more
By Pat Payton
The slogan at Troyer’s Spices is: Better prices, fresher spices.
“I can say that because we buy in small quantities; we don’t back-stock anything,” says Dan Troyer, who owns the downtown Queen Street business with his wife Amie Rankin. “We replenish our supplies every two weeks.
“We have three importers in Toronto that we work with. The importers are important because we get (the products) direct from them, rather than having to go through a wholesaler.”
Troyer says products from 45 different countries are represented in their quaint store. “The majority of our spices come from India, and the herbs come from the rest of the world.”
Why do spices make food better, he was asked.
“They enhance the flavour of everything,” he replied. “You can improve your cooking with good spices, but it takes a little bit of knowledge and it takes a little bit of experimenting as well. They’re very important.”
Third year in business
Troyer and Rankin opened Troyer’s Spices on July 8, 2017. On their website, they say they cater to those with a passion for cooking, from brand new beginners to the more experienced chef.
The business offers over 100 ingredients (herbs and spices). Spices are mostly roots and berries, while herbs tend to be leaves, he says.
They also make over 50 different blends (seasonings and rubs), and feature approximately 40 gourmet salts, sugars and mixes as well. “We make our own seasonings and rubs here, all salt-free,” he notes. “It’s important for people who have to watch their salt intake. We believe that salt should be a choice.”
Patrons can even bring in their own spice jars/containers from home and buy as little or as much of any herb/spice as they need — from measurements as small as a tablespoon to five pounds at a time.
Troyer’s Spices also offer lots of “grocery items,” featuring such things as local maple syrup, Canadian honeys, Indian curries and Vanilla products. Gift baskets are available all year round as well as charcuterie boards, made by the father and son team of Matt and Charlie Koch in nearby Wartburg.
They also sell their many products to restaurants. “We do wholesale for the food service industry as well,” Troyer says.
Some popular spices
What are some of the more popular spices they sell, Troyer was asked.
“It depends on the market or what people are into,” he replied. “Indian spices sell very well here, but us North Americans like garlic, pepper and onion. We do sell a lot of sumac and a lot of odd ingredients (spices) that are very hard to find.
“The grocery store has to do everything by volume, so if it doesn’t sell a lot of it, they’re not going to carry it. We’re small enough that we can buy small. We don’t have to move a whole lot of it . . . that’s the difference.”
Dan and Amie’s love of cooking was probably the common denominator and the biggest reason they opened Troyer’s Spices three summers ago.
“I’m an ex-truck driver and Amie worked in a deli,” he said. “I’ve always done my own seasonings and rubs, and both of us love to cook. I wanted a store for a long time; it’s in my background. We decided to concentrate on spices, and it’s been great.”
Troyer says their business has grown by “65 per cent” over the three years they’ve been in downtown St. Marys.
Pandemic has affected business
Has the current Covid-19 pandemic affected their business, he was asked.
“Yes,” he replied without hesitation. “We have a lot less traffic in the store. We’ve seen a bit of a drop in sales, but we’ve seen an increase in our website sales and we’ve seen an increase in people just generally cooking.
“We miss the tourists and the people driving past, so that has had an affect. But the local community has been super great. Locally, we’ve done better. People have been staying home and cooking and barbecuing more. But the tourist traffic has been pretty well non-existent.
“We sell all over Ontario on-line, but I would say our overall sales have been down 70 per cent. We also had to lay off all (four) of our employees for three months.”
On a brighter note, Dan and Amie are excited about a recent addition to their business. They purchased a packaging machine from China that allows them to do sample packs.
“It weighs it and bags it and packages it,” Amie explains. “It can do 800 an hour. Then all we have to do is staple it to the recipe card. It’s new and we’re hoping to promote this.
“We’re also encouraging people to bring in their recipes. We can make up the ingredients for their recipe. People can drop it off before they go to work and we’ll have it all together when they come back.”
Troyer’s Spices is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. They’re closed on Sundays.