The Worldly Gourmet Kitchen Store is Ladysmith’s premier location for international gourmet and commercial cookware.
Kamal and Therese Saab have owned The Worldly Gourmet for six years. They run the business out of the J Cochrane building, a 1944 heritage site on 1st avenue. Two years ago, the couple purchased the building, and renovated the upstairs into their home. They also revitalized the store front with new windows and tiling that add life to the 1st avenue street front.
“We are proud to be in Ladysmith. We wanted to turn this into a destination to bring people over to Ladysmith,” Kamal Saab said. “Our customers for the last two years come from Victoria, Duncan, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton. We ship to them. We even ship to the states to a few customers. We see customers all the way from Port Hardy and Tofino drive here every month or two to pick up their stuff.”
While the store is located in Ladysmith, Saab brings in the best quality cookware from all over the world, with a focus on Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East. Every product sold at The Worldly Gourmet is rigorously tested by the Saabs before it goes on the shelf. Once the products are vetted as the best in class, The Worldly Gourmet only carries that one product.
“We go after what’s the best of the best of this brand,” Saab said. “Like, Kitchenaid for example. You can buy Kitchenaid anywhere, but we have the pro-line Kitchenaid… We’re the only ones authorized to sell it on Vancouver Island.”
The Worldly Gourmet has built a reputation not only with customers, but with suppliers as well. Customers can go online and browse catalogues for special orders from manufacturers like Browne, Escali, de Buyer, Swissmar, and more. Saab then handles the ordering of the product, and the shipping to ensure customers are getting the best possible price.
“We don’t have online ordering,” Saab said. “We tried online ordering, we put it in for about a year and a half, and we got zero orders because people kept calling us… People are used to us, it’s one-on-one.”
The Saabs have decades of experience in the food and hospitality industry. The Worldly Gourmet was established 14 years ago by a previous owner, in their six years, the Saabs have brought in rare, hard to get products that chefs, and culinary arts students want. Their mission statement is to bring out the “chef in you” and “the chef to be”.
With their combined knowledge of cooking, and cookware, the Saabs strive to give customers the products they actually need, rather than the products they just want. They ask customers about what they plan to do with the products, and what their level of cooking experience is to make sure they are getting the proper product. They also tell customers what kind of cooking works best with certain products.
“What we’ve established in the last six years is a reputation. A reputation for being honest, a reputation for being knowledgable, a reputation for having amazing customer service, and building friendships,” Saab said.
When they first started out, The Worldly Gourmet had to send proposals that outlined the business’s mission and vision to suppliers to gain their trust. Now, all they have to do is send suppliers a link to their website. That reputation has reduced the wait time to hear back from suppliers from a matter of months, to an immediate response.
According to Saab, The Worldly Gourmet has grown about 10 percent per year, product wise. He said The Worldly Gourmet will continue to grow because of the strength of relationships they’ve built with customers in the local community, and surronding areas like Chemanius, Duncan, and Nanaimo.
“We know that the locals in Ladysmith are super proud that they have The Worldly Gourmet Kitchen Store in their town,” Saab said. “We get a lot of feedback from metro towns in Canada, and they say ‘we’re surprised that this store is here, how are you making money?’ We tell them that we’re doing fine, because we’ve got the local support, and that makes us happy.”