Duchess Bake Shop owner swore she'd never do it, but Ritchie Market is glad she did
'Vibrant community hub' home to brewery, butcher and now a baker
Debbie Funk is regular at the Little Duchess at Ritchie Market, lining up for pastries in the southside bakery.
"I love the area. It's so cute; it's quaint; it's homey; and I'm glad these guys came down to this side over here," Funk said.
In October, Little Duchess became the latest business to join the market at 9570 76th Ave.
Despite a decade of sweet success and international baking acclaim, a second location was something Giselle Courteau swore she'd never do.
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"We were pretty firm we would never open a second location just because the bake shop on 124th is so busy," said the chef, author and business owner. "Over and over we get requests all the time."
But the Ritchie Market location seemed "too good to be true," Courteau said.
"We took a moment to just kind of examine the neighbourhood, the community, and the other businesses that were in the building and we realized it was the perfect second home."
You can see more from the community of Ritchie on Sunday at 2 p.m. and Monday at 11 a.m. on CBC Edmonton TV and CBC GEM.
Three months later the bakery has become a huge draw, according to market owner Greg Zeschuk.
"Since Duchess came in we're up 20 per cent year on year for the number of people coming through," Zeschuk said.
They may come for a croissant but "once they get there they see all the other interesting businesses and hang out for awhile," he said.
Ritchie Market opened in 2017 and is home to Acme Meat Market, Transcend Coffee and Roastery, Biera restaurant and Blind Enthusiasm Brewing Company — a "really nice vibrant community hub," Zeschuk said.
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The former BioWare founder and Order of Canada recipient admits his motivation for starting the market was his love of beer.
"It all started because I wanted to make a brewery, that's the funny part of all this."
Zeschuk owns Biera and Blind Enthusiasm, which will launch of its first barrel-aged beer next month, a milestone for the brewery.
"It's the kind of thing that beer nerds will travel to get if they can," he said.
Kyle Murray, professor and vice dean at the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta, says having strong independent businesses in one location can be a big draw.
Ritchie Market as a destination can attract a loyal local following, even tourists, Murray said.
It's a sign of a mature retail scene when local businesses can thrive alongside the West Edmonton Malls and South Edmonton Commons, a model that has been successful in other neighbourhoods such as Oliver and Old Strathcona, he said.
"It's great to be able to walk out to a baker, a butcher or a coffee shop. I think we'd all like to be able to walk to something interesting in our communities," Murray said.