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IDC Shop Adapts to Support Local Businesses

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Branda Chaput, owner of Fleuriste XO Flowers and Gifts in Île-des-Chênes. Brenda Chaput

In the summer of 2019, Brenda Chaput of Île-des-Chênes opened a new business, Fleuriste XO Flowers and Gifts, a full-service flower shop with plants and gifts, including a comprehensive delivery service.

Like many others who have launched new businesses in the months leading up to the COVID outbreak, it’s been tough sledding throughout 2020.

“Opening a new business just before a pandemic was not ideal,” Chaput says. “But it did force us to reflect on the goods and services we provide, and how we provide them. It became apparent early on that in order to survive we would need to be flexible and adapt without changing the vision of who we are, and who we want to be.”

She says there have been a few positives amidst all the challenges and hardships, and one of them is a renewed community spirit and desire for people to support local small business.

“This is so true for our boutique,” she says. “Previous to COVID days, much of our 1,000-square-foot store was used for meeting space and craft classes. We have now dedicated this space to supporting and promoting local producers and artists by displaying and selling their locally made products, such as candles, honey, bath products, pottery, jewellery, spices, candy, and gifts. With the closure of markets and craft sales, many producers lost opportunities to promote themselves and sell their merchandise.”

At the shop, customers can find products from Dooryard Pottery by Mike Astill and locally roasted PERK coffee beans (Île-des-Chênes), Crescent Acres Soap and Honey, as well as The Little Wood Chipper (Grande Pointe), DC Hot Sauces (St. Adolphe), Smooch Bath and Body (Lorette), Ferrmont Farms and Prairie Penguin Candles (Niverville), L&G Custom Creations (St. Malo), and Spice World, Tasty Tidbits, Soy Harvest Candles, and Mordens Chocolate (Winnipeg).

“The pandemic may have stolen some of our freedoms and choices, but it has not stolen our freedom to choose where we spend our money,” says Chaput. “For us, buying products from local artisans is a way we can contribute to healthy and thriving communities.”

She adds that even in terms of the shop’s main service—selling and delivering fresh flowers and plants—they support local as much as possible by purchasing fresh from local market gardeners and supporting area greenhouses.

The business has also expanded its delivery service, including to Winnipeg, as far east as Richer, and as far south as St. Malo.

“An anxiety still exists for us, as a new business, that consumers will forget how important their support is during these uncertain times,” Chaput says. “And there is a real insecurity that if COVID infections continue to rise in the southeast, we could face harmful changes or closures to local businesses. As a small family-run business, we depend on its survival for ours. Just as every vendor in our boutique does. We are all in this together. The more we can collaborate, the stronger we all are.”

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