Posted May 16, 2006 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Sauce News

In the News: Chilly Chiles of Canada

By Kristin Harold, Ottawa Business Journal Staff
Mon, May 15, 2006 12:00 AM EST

A local retailer of hot and fiery products is making a bold move by closing its location in the ByWard Market and relocating to the outskirts of the city.

Chilly Chiles will close the doors of its Sussex Boulevard store on May 23 and reopen in Navan in early June, says Alison Steele-Myers, who co-owns the store with her husband Rob.

Billed as “the hottest shop in town,” the store specializes in a wide selection of dried chiles, as well as every other type of packaged heat, whether it’s hot sauces, salsa, jams or sweets. It also sells paraphernalia for the fiery food lover, from cookbooks and calendars to hot pepper floor rugs and an inflatable chile pepper.

Ms. Steele-Myers says the decision to move the store to Navan was based on a number of factors, including the city’s plans to add Sussex to their list of upcoming construction projects.

“The City of Ottawa informed all of the businesses that there will be construction on Sussex, with blasting through limestone and redoing all the sewers for a two-year project and our lease was coming up for renewal,” she says. “The city now says it’s put the construction off for another year, but we’ve been through it before five years ago at our previous location (in the ByWard Market Building). It was horrible because we have nothing, but nice shiny glass bottles that get incredibly dirty and dusty.”

Ms. Steele-Myers says the move is also based on the fact that their warehouse is located in the Navan area, where they also base their busy online business and have lived for more than 30 years.

“We’ve operated in two locations for quite some time and we also already sell out of J.T. Bradley’s Country Store in Navan,” she says. “So, we thought we’d take a jump and said it’s time for a change.”

The couple, who admit to being passionate “chile heads”, started Chilly Chiles 12 years ago as a mail order company that was the first fiery food specialty company to operate in Canada. While Ms. Steele-Myers says they’ve seen a lot of competition come and go in that time, their company has one of the largest selections in the world, with more than 900 items available.

“Our customer base stretches from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, B.C. and all points in between,” she says. “We also ship internationally to such diverse places as Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, which is about as far away from here as you can get.”

Along with being a source for dried chiles and other fiery foods that can be difficult to obtain in Canada, Chilly Chiles also features a few products by local manufacturers of hot sauces.

“We make some of our own products as well – dry mix kit for making chilis, chocolate moule sauce that’s a dry mix, we have a new rub out for ribs, a kit for making an enchilada sauce and for making a black bean sauce and we’re also in the process of coming up with some new products,” says Ms. Steele-Myers.

The move to Navan will also open a number of ways to expand the business, she adds. The new location will permit the addition of cooking classes, which was out of the question at the Sussex store.

“It’s fun being in the Market, but I also love being in Navan and it’s really growing with Orleans just getting huge and the building on Trim Road is amazing and changing every day.”

She adds that she is encouraged by the exposure gained by the city’s rural businesses and attractions last year through a new marketing campaign called Ottawa’s Countryside. The $150,000 campaign was successful in raising awareness about the large number of award-winning attractions, country fairs, restaurants and stores located in the city’s far-reaching rural villages. Organizers are hoping for even more local participation and greater visibility this year.

Ms. Steele-Myers says they are excited about being a part of Navan’s growing presence as a destination for shopping and dining.

“There are a lot of interesting things going on in Navan, with a winery, the Ex’s Corners, a brewery and we’re next to J.T.’s. He also sells beer and wine so we’re hoping to do some wine tasting along with our cooking classes,” she says. “Our dedicated customers have also told us that they’re thrilled about these ideas and especially the idea of free parking and handicap access.”

The new store is expected to open on June 7 at 1220 Colonial Rd. in Navan.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog