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Jewell’s Country Market sold but will keep name and staff

Edwin Jewell, centre, has sold Jewell’s Country Market to Chris and Zuzana Seemann, but will stay on for the next two years to help ease the transition.
Edwin Jewell, centre, has sold Jewell’s Country Market to Chris and Zuzana Seemann, but will stay on for the next two years to help ease the transition. - Dave Stewart

An iconic P.E.I. greenhouse will head into its 20th season under the care of new green thumbs.

Jewell’s Country Market has been sold to Chris and Zuzana Seemann.

Chris Seemann is a native of Germany, who moved to the Czech Republic about 20 years ago and that’s where he met and married Zuzana.

Edwin and Dawn Jewell of York put the business up for sale about two years ago.

Edwin will remain involved in the country market for the next two years to help ease the transition for the couple.

Edwin Jewell is busy however, expanding the capacity of Canada’s Island Garden Inc., the province’s first medical marijuana growing facility and one of three companies that will supply the P.E.I. government with recreational cannabis later this year.

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Chris Seemann said their path to purchasing Jewell’s Country Market began five years ago when his niece was on the Island as part of a student exchange program.

She lived with a host family in Stratford and attended Charlottetown Rural High School.

“She loved it so much that she did not want to come home and since then P.E.I. has been on our radar screen,’’ Chris Seemann said in an interview on Friday. “Finally, in 2015, we managed to come here for a short break (in the) autumn and we just loved it. We fell in love with the Island and (knew) this is where we want to go.’’

“It was going to be our future,’’ Zuzana said.

Then they learned Jewell’s Country Market might be up for sale and contacted Edwin.

Driving by the business solidified their decision.

“It’s just so vibrant, it looks so fantastic. We thought this is a perfect opportunity for us to work together, which was one of the driving factors for us to come here, doing something together, not doing something separate and not seeing each other for most of the time,’’ Chris said.

The couple acknowledges they don’t have any greenhouse experience.

They’ll be leaning on Jewell and the entire staff to guide them.

Chris’s background is in managing production plants for automotive suppliers and medical device production.

Zuzana brings marketing and retail experience.

“Together, we think this will work, the combination of working with people, wanting to work together and actually to be outside . . . not a hectic environment like we were working before,’’ Zuzana said. “It’s a whole change of our lifestyle.’’

The couple has three children, two of whom (both teenagers) have been with them in P.E.I. since last March.

They have no big plans for Jewell’s Country Market. They talk about maintaining the same quality service that Edwin and Dawn set, with the same staff.

The market employs about 40 part-time and full-time workers.

In addition, the name will remain Jewell’s Country Market.

Edwin Jewell said his role will be to offer the best advice he can.

“We’ve grown this business for the last 19 years so there’s a few things you figure out along the way and I’m happy to share those with Chris and Zuzana and see that they get off on the right foot,’’ he said, noting that while he has 100 per cent faith in his staff it helps to have an owner who can devote complete attention to the business.

Jewell was asking $1.9 million for the business but no one would say what the Seemann couple actually paid for it.

“I think what Edwin and I would say is that at the end of negotiations we were both unhappy,’’ Chris Zeeman said. “We both had to give in order to come to a compromise. At the end we were happy because we were able to close a deal.’’

Edwin agrees.

“Yes, 100 per cent.’’

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