Story by Gareth Vieira
As that familiar song goes… “It was well worth the wait, well worth the wait”. On July 6, Electric Juice Factory opened their doors to the Port Hope community. Owners Cheryl Gould and her husband Will Harvey have lived quite the life; Cheryl even wrote a book entitled Understanding Northwest Coast Art.
“I was working in galleries in Vancouver and Whistler selling Northwest Native art and Inuit art, a lot of First Nations stuff. I really like symbolism and iconography and I noticed when people came into the gallery they were drawn by the symbolism in the art. I realized there wasn’t a book that spoke about that topic really well. I graduated with a literature degree and I was a good researcher, so I wrote it and got it published. It’s nice to go back home to Vancouver and see that they are not only selling it, they are using it as their main resource in the galleries.”
Cheryl and Will met when she was obtaining her teaching degree at University of British Columbia and he was taking courses in another department. They moved from Vancouver to Toronto separately.
“I started a little gallery in The Beaches area of Toronto back in 1999, and at that time we were not a couple. I already had my teaching degree from UBC, and started teaching in 2002.”
Cheryl and Will eventually reconnected and began their life together. They now live on a farm near Keene, Ontario. It was three years ago after listening to friends rave about juice and plant-based eating that Cheryl tried it and was instantly hooked.
“I loved the taste, the way it made me feel, and the nutritional benefits. I bought a juicer and started juicing at home. I was loving it, and craving it when I couldn’t get it.”
Cheryl has an entrepreneurial spirit; the kind of person who has one idea after another and admits while most have been pretty good ideas, they remain as they began, ideas.
“But once I got it in my head about opening a juice bar, the idea kept niggling at me and I hadn’t even told my husband. To be honest, I was nervous to tell him because he has heard so many of them,” Cheryl says, laughing. “To my surprise, when I told him I wanted to open a cold-pressed juice business, he said ‘I think that’s a good one’. I got really excited at the prospect of having juice available to me … and others.”
While the idea took fruit, (sorry, had to), the reality became apparent that this venture would be very expensive with the machine for juicing alone attached to a hefty forty grand price tag.
“We are not big business people with deep pockets. I’m a teacher for crying out loud, Will is a woodworker. We put our life savings into it.”
And of course, we must ask, the much-asked question: why the long wait? The answer is quite simple and admirable. The space, with its inviting atmosphere, creative decor, and natural feel is exclusively the work of Will himself.
“We didn’t hire contractors. He did every little thing, and all the while, we were learning about owning a business because we were not restaurateurs.”
They learned about the equipment, attended auctions, and experimented with recipes, educating themselves on all aspects of running a business, as Cheryl continued to work full-time as a teacher.
“So that’s why it took us longer, and I think the wait is worth it, and the feedback has been absolutely great. I get to be the visionary and Will is the nitty-gritty details man. It has been an enormous undertaking that we would both absolutely do again.”
The core product at Electric Juice is the cold-pressed organic juice that they bottle for the store, making sure the selection in the cooler is always fresh. Additionally, they offer super food smoothies, delicious vegan salads and salad bowls, gourmet vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, vegan baked goods, and fine espresso.
“I think it’s important for people to know that the juices we sell are raw. They are unpasteurized and contain beneficial plant essences, including delicate enzymes, vitamins and biophotons that are damaged by pasteurization.” adds Cheryl
Cheryl and Will are already looking ahead to how they can contribute in the future, including events, supporting local artists, and working alongside the community. They also have plans to create satellite locations that will simply have a juice cooler, with ready-to-go sandwiches and salads.
“I have this incredible urge to create,” says Cheryl. “That’s part of the satisfaction I get from doing this. We are making something and I can see it, it’s not a leap of faith, this is something more immediate.”
For those of you who haven’t yet visited 106 Walton Street, I assure you, the trip is well worth it.