A new confectionary store and boutique has opened in Merrickville, in preparation for the beginning of the holiday season. Pickle & Myrrh was started four years ago by owner Erin Kergen, back when she lived in the small town of Water Valley in Alberta. At first, it was an artisan market, located in the town’s old general store and selling things like homemade baked goods, pottery and jewelry. One day, she brought in a batch of her homemade caramels to hand out to customers. “People started asking for more and more, so I started making them and having them in this little shop,” Erin says. “People were driving up from Calgary to go get them.”
CTV news picked up the story about the little shop in Water Valley with artisan caramels, and Erin was even invited to William Sonoma in Calgary to do in-store demos. “It was just crazy,” she remembers.
When she moved to Merrickville three years ago, Erin started producing her caramels for wholesale, supplying them to boutique cafes and businesses in the area. “The Village Bean saw my Instagram even before we moved here, and they were like – we want to sell your caramels. So, I always had a relationship with them, even before we bought a place.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down all commercial kitchens, so Erin has been unable to produce the volume of caramels needed for wholesale since March. However, this didn’t stop her from creating a unique “virtual farm stand” to sell her caramels, as well as many other local handmade goods. “I teamed up with a couple of my friends that are incredible makers themselves and just started offering these cute little packages that you could buy on the website.”
The response to the virtual farm stand was amazing. Run every Saturday starting at 9:00am, they would often run out of product within minutes. Then, people who purchased items would pick them up between 10:00am and 2:00pm at Erin’s house in Merrickville. “People would show up, give me their order number, and their bags would be at a pickup table. It was wild how successful it was.”
Erin had been playing around with the idea of a store front for a while, and when the space in the Baldachin building at 110 Main St. E became available, she jumped on it. “I just thought why not take a little chance?”
Pickle and Myrrh officially opened last week, and Erin is already in love with having a store front. She has been able to partner with many of the local makers that she worked with through her virtual farm stand, selling artisanal jams and spreads, honey, peanut butter and, of course, all different flavours of hand made caramels. She is also showcasing lots of locally-made gifts, like cozy sweaters, cute t-shirts, candles, and beautifully crafted dried flower wreathes. “I kind of term it as a caramel shop and gourmet pantry, that also features farmgirl items. You would never walk in and be like: oh, this isn’t for me, it’s too fancy. It can be for everybody.”
President of the Merrickville and District Chamber of Commerce, Yves Grandmaitre, says that Erin is a great example of how effective online marketing can be. “Erin has joined the group of power women in Merrickville,” he says.
Pickle and Myrrh is now open from Thursday to Sunday, from 10:00am-3:00pm, but Erin is planning to extend those hours as the holiday season approaches. As of right now, the store will only be open until December 31; however, Erin is already in love with the space, with its high ceilings and original 1860 tin walls. “I think, long-term, I would love to add to the vibrancy of this community, which I think is so rich in artisans and in architecture. My goal would just be to be part of that fibre and continue to bring people to the place that I love and now call home.”