Traditional candy shop Vivaldi Pralines closes its doors after 36 years: “Difficult to let go of my child” (Wilrijk)

Traditional candy shop Vivaldi Pralines closes its doors after 36 years: “Difficult to let go of my child” (Wilrijk)
Traditional candy shop Vivaldi Pralines closes its doors after 36 years: “Difficult to let go of my child” (Wilrijk)
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Petra Ceulemans ran the Vivaldi candy shop in Sint-Bavostraat in Wilrijk, next to the Sint-Bavo care center, for 36 years. There she sold all kinds of delicacies: from pralines and chocolate theme figures to candy cakes or individual candies by weight. Due to high cocoa prices and inflation, Petra decided to close its doors for good. “Over the years, sales have always gone in waves, so the corona period has been a serious downer. But now I am not so resilient anymore and I prefer to end at a good time,” Petra explains.

As a child, she already cherished the dream of one day running a candy store. After she found a pralineur to collaborate with, that dream came true. “I first opened my store on October 10, 1988, my 21st birthday. My family helped a lot in advance to get everything ready, so I chose the name Vivaldi together with my father and my brother painted the logo.” She based the design of the store on several shop windows in London that evoked that cozy feeling of home.

“My creations ranged from candy houses and cars to paintings or logos for companies and once even an Eiffel Tower made of candy. Also during the holidays I tried to reinvent the classic Santa Claus or Easter Bunny every year.”

Petra Ceulemans

Vivaldi

Looking back, it seems to Petra as if the opening was yesterday and those 36 years have flown by. “I have always loved working in the store. Especially because I like being among people and listening to customers’ stories. I’m going to miss that.” The regular customer base also included students from the Sint-Ursula Institute in Wilrijk who came to fill a candy bag after school hours.

Specials and classics

Over the years, Petra has always tried to deliver the best quality and to work with sweets as originally as possible. In the early years she made all kinds of constructions to order. “This ranged from candy houses and cars to paintings or logos for companies and even an Eiffel Tower made of candy. Also during the holidays, the heyday for chocolate shops, I tried to reinvent that classic Sinterklaas and Piet or Easter Bunny every year.”

In 1988, Gazet van Antwerpen wrote about Petra's new candy shop.

In 1988, Gazet van Antwerpen wrote about Petra’s new candy shop. — © IT

Vivaldi’s basic range consisted of numerous pralines and sweets, but changed over the years according to customer demand. “The once successful English bulbs disappeared from the range. Fortunately, the classic bacon has always remained. In terms of pralines, I mainly sold the classics with praline or marzipan, but sometimes the pralinier delivered specials with tea or ginger and then I was shocked by the success.”

Photography

Although Petra never thought she would stop before retirement, her childhood dream is now coming to an end. And that is hard for her. “It was a painful decision to make and it is difficult to let go of my baby now. Now there is time available for my hobby, photography. I never had time for that because of the store.”

The last weekend of March, Petra once again opened the doors of her modest shop wide and a lot of people showed up. “It was heart-warming that so many people came by and even brought presents. I am extremely grateful to my regular customers, I will miss them enormously and it is nice to feel that I will be missed too.”

© IT

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