Historic Velatis Caramels to Move to New Location at The Shoppes of Bethesda

Velatis Caramels, one of the area’s oldest businesses, plans to move from downtown Silver Spring to The Shoppes of Bethesda in the coming months.

A representative told The MoCo Show this afternoon that they will release additional information on the store’s move in July.

Velatis Caramels has deep roots in the region, having relocated from Richmond, Va., to 620 Ninth St. NW in Washington, D.C., in 1866 after the original location burned down at the end of the Civil War. Many of the store’s displays, including old ads and various candy box designs, showcase the company’s history.

“The company first started in Richmond,” owner Amy Servais told the Source in 2017. “And at the end of the Civil War, when Richmond burned, their shop burned, too. They had other things in it besides the caramel, the candy that we know today at Velatis.”

The Washington location closed in the 1970s due to the construction of the Metro. Woodward & Lothrop Co. bought the trademark and secret recipes and sold candies in the company’s stores during the holidays.

JCPenney acquired the company’s assets when Woodie’s, as it was known to the locals, went out of business. Later, JCPenney started selling off many of those assets, including Velatis; Servais, a sixth-generation Washingtonian, convinced her family to invest in what she called “the first candy I ever had” in 1996.

Servais, whose background was in women’s fashion and retail, began working with the recipes, learning, as she said, by trial and error over six months.

“Once I got it down, then I said, ‘Well okay, let me find the right equipment,'” Servais said in 2017. “It took about a year to get the recipes and equipment down.”

She put an ad in The Washington Post around Christmas 1997, selling by mail order from Tampa, where she lived. She later relocated to Virginia, just outside of Richmond, and continued selling by mail order and supplying a growing internet-based clientele.¬†While she sought a permanent location, she also sold the products at the Bethesda Women’s Market and the Alexandria Farmer’s Market.

Servais opened the store at 8408 Georgia Ave. in downtown Silver Spring in 2008 and later expanded to locations inside The Pentagon and at the Mark Center in Alexandria.

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