It is with great deal of sadness, disappointment (and even anger), I am writing this letter to let you know that LPK’s will be closing its retail doors on December 31st, 2012.
I have ruminated on this decision for a long time. To say it’s been hard to live with is an understatement. For me, closing the doors on my dream is the saddest, hardest, and what sometimes feels like the loneliest thing I have ever had to do.
Why? There are so many reasons. Some are simple, and some more complicated. Be that as it may, I have learned many lessons over the past several years, and looking back, now realize how I could have done things differently. My core beliefs, however, are even stronger now than when LPK’s opened its retail doors in November of 2008.
Since starting LPK’s 14 years ago in my basement, time and time again, I was told it made better business sense to use cheaper, non-organic, non-fair trade ingredients; to use less expensive, environmentally irresponsible packaging; and, to seemingly be wasteful and less mindful because it made more financial sense, even if it was in direct conflict with LPK’s mission of “Delighting our clients by treating them, our ingredients and our world with love and respect.” However, we stuck to our proverbial guns, and as such, I will always be proud of the following:
- LPK’s used certified organic, fairly/horizontally traded ingredients, along with Certified Local Sustainable ingredients whenever possible.
- We chose less packaging, and demanded our suppliers seek out better, more sustainable choices for our products.
- We tried to minimize our environmental impact each and every day in as many ways as possible.
- We became Slow Food members, Local Food Plus supporters, and partook in various sustainable food related events like Slow Food Picnic, Foodstock, Soupstock, and the Farm Fresh Fare at the Green Living Show.
- We were huge supporters of the Toronto Vegetarian Association, and enjoyed participating in many Toronto Vegetarian Food Festivals.
- We participated, with great dedication, in several seasonal, local and organic farmers’ markets including: Evergreen Brick Works, Withrow Park, Riverdale Farm, Leslieville, Sorauren, and Apple Tree Markets.
- We provided the best tasting organic, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free desserts Toronto had to offer, winning awards for: our Spicy Chevre Noir Shortbread (Best Spicy Dessert in Toronto 2010), our Vanilla and Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars in (Best Professionally Crafted Vegan Dessert, 2009 and 2010), and 2 People’s Choice Awards at the Wild Blueberry Festival 2012, and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over Toronto 2012.
- In a continued effort to support our local, sustainable food community we introduced our new savoury menu this past summer, featuring as many organic, locally sourced ingredients and artisanal products as we could use, because we wanted everyone to know how amazing our food community is and what it has to offer.
The personal side of LPK’s…
Over the past few weeks, I have burst into tears many times in front of family, friends and staff. I have told the shareholders (all close family and friends), the money they invested in my business because of their belief in me, is gone. I have apologized profusely to my husband (who thankfully, and sometimes to my disbelief, is still my husband) for the upheaval – financial, personal, and emotional – LPK’s and I have caused our family over the past several years.
I have said goodbye to staff, and will be letting suppliers know I am not sure how or when I will be able to pay them. When the time comes, I will have to deal with banks and other lenders, and will have to consider giving up our home of eleven years. And, even though my decision to close LPK’s is now public, I will still have to muster the gumption to keep going until the end of January, and then for several months after, as the business winds down, loose ends are tied up, and (my husband and) I figure out where we will live, and what the future holds for me, and for us as a family.
Through the pain, sadness and even disappointment, I still deeply believe what LPK’s accomplished over the past 4 years was and still is important, and I am thankful for the experience and opportunity I have been granted. Our mission of “Delighting our clients by treating them, our ingredients and our world with love and respect.” was behind every action and choice we made. There were days we were better at it than others, but overall, knowing who and where our foods come from, and nurturing that connection for our clients, is as important today, as it was when we first opened our retail doors 4 years ago.
So what now…?
I do not know what the future holds for LPK’s or for me, but I know the sadness, anger, disappointment, and even the judgment I feel now will dissipate, and change into something better, more productive, and perhaps more far reaching. I know I am loved, and supported, and know others who share my core beliefs. I will lean on their strength and support while I/we figure out what to do next.
For now, LPK’s will continue with business as usual until the end of December, endeavouring to serve you as best we can in the limited amount of time and with the limited resources we have left. We look forward to dazzling you and yours with sweet and savoury delights over the holiday season, by continuing with the Brick Works and Withrow Park farmers’ markets until the end of January, and when the time comes, to say “farewell” by hosting a most deelish open house where we can all say our goodbyes, share hugs, and wish each other well.
Lastly, if any of the above has twinged even the tiniest of heart strings, I ask of you the following:
- Please consider taking some extra time when it comes to making food choices, by really becoming aware of who and where your food comes from. Just because something is made from “natural” ingredients, what does that actually mean? Is it really better to have something that travelled halfway across the world rather than choosing something which was grown or produced right here in our own back yard?
- Shop at local, organic farmers’ markets, and get to know who and where your food comes from. There are markets going almost every day throughout Toronto, and they’re virtually one-stop shopping (produce, dairy, bread, baked goods, and even meat). There’s something very empowering about taking an active part in supporting our local food community. Make the connection.
- Shop with local, artisanal small businesses where, for the most part, food is still prepared and crafted by people, not machines. There is something to be said for the energy and sense of purpose that goes into something created by a human being, instead of a collection of well-oiled, well-timed, computer driven metal and plastic.
For all of the above, and whatever comes next, I thank you.
With love and respect,