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Hand pies made with hope and heart (4 photos)

Buoyed by the “buy local” movement, Pie.ology has a new location.

Pie.ology, the popular Thunder Bay Country Market vendor moved into a new space on May Street earlier this year. (Heartbeat Hot Sauce used to be in that location.) Owners Amanda and Malcolm Hope decided on the move several months before the pandemic hit a year ago. The idea was to have a larger kitchen, as well as a place where people can come grab takeout pies.

Vendors at the market since they opened, the couple hopes that the new location will help increase their business and make them more visible to a larger number of potential customers.

“It’s been a lot of ups and downs,” Amanda says about the past 12 months. “You throw your business plans out the window, and you have to go with the flow every time something new happens.”

Pie.ology closed its market booth proactively last year when worrying stories about the new virus began dominating the news. Soon after, the Thunder Bay Country Market decided to shut its doors as well. “We were kind of backed into a corner,” Malcolm says. Pie.ology had always relied on customers coming to the market to purchase their pies, so the Hopes had no idea how many pies they would be able to sell when the market closed. “We were prepared for worst case scenarios,” he admits.

They decided that Malcolm would make pies during the week, to be delivered on the weekend, and they posted menus on social media. People started ordering pies - lots of people. “We were blown away by the response, it was incredible,” he says. “In spite of the trials and challenges, the past year hasn’t been as bad as we thought.”

Amanda recently quit her full-time job to start working at Pie.ology full time as well. She had previously been doing administrative work for Pie.ology after hours, but gradually the pie business got busy enough so that it made sense for her to join full time. Despite the pandemic, the past year has been steadily busy, Malcolm says, and he had no time to develop new recipes.

The Hopes still don’t know when they will open their new May Street location to the public. A lot depends on public health guidelines. Fortunately for Pie.ology’s customers at the market, they currently have no plans to give up their booth there. “The market has been very good to us,” Malcolm says.

The best way to find out what Pie.ology is doing is on Facebook and Instagram, says Amanda. The week’s menu is posted on Mondays, and they take orders by email. There are usually at least half a dozen pies on the menu, including two breakfast pies, a fruit or sweet pie and a savoury vegetarian pie. As always, Pie.ology focuses on local ingredients and products.

The Hopes bought the business in October 2018 after the former owners decided to move away. They didn’t want to see their favourite pies disappear, and believed others felt the same. Two and a half years later, the couple still feel positive about their business. “Despite the pandemic, and everything that’s going on, we are excited about the future, and where we can take the business,” Amanda says.

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