SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - Island Memories Gifts has been a fixture in downtown Summerside for 10 years, but unfortunately, its doors will soon close for good.
“My ambition was to run my own shop until I was 85, and I just about made it,” said Doris Flamminio who was recently sidelined by a back injury. It’s an accomplishment not many people could claim.
“The decision to close hasn’t been an easy one, but I feel that it’s time.”
The gracious shop owner is passionate about local work.
“The Island-made crafts were what the tourists were looking for,” she said.
As well as her own work, Flamminio’s shop sells crafts from more than 20 other local artisans.
Jean Doucette is a frequent shopper at Island Memories. She sends gifts to her children and grandchildren in the U.S. and Ontario.
“I love this little store; I don’t know what I’ll do when it closes.”
Doucette has gotten to know Flamminio over the years.
“Her personality belonged in this store. Without her personality this store would not be as it was,” said Doucette.
Flamminio added, “My heart was in it.”
Born in Elmsdale, P.E.I., sewing and crafts have always been a part of Flamminio’s life.
In her shop windows, the sign says “everything must go” but it doesn’t include the sewing table she was seated at. She laughed and said, “I’ll be taking it home.”
Summers were busy in the shop; she managed to stay open in the winters, making quilts and rugs to sell.
“Handicraft will never go out of style.”
As a younger woman, Flamminio lived in Toronto, Ont.
It was a different time; she didn’t worry about walking home at night after a late shift.
The big city was where she met Nicola Flamminio, after he stopped in for coffee at the restaurant where she worked.
He stopped every day. One day he asked if he could take her to a movie.
After, at her door, he asked an important question.
“Do you like children?”
“Yes, I do. Especially little girls,” she said.
Nicola had just lost his wife to polio and he was caring for his eight-month-old daughter, Theresa.
A little over a year later, they became a family when Doris and Nicola married.
In the 1960s the Flamminios moved to Western P.E.I.
“Everything is so universal today,” she said. It was a challenge for Doris to find Italian food for her husband. They would send to Toronto for pastas and other ingredients.
They farmed 100 acres for a while, then Nicola found work in the construction industry.
They owned the Bloomfield Mall for a number of years, then Doris got her chance to run Island Memories.
“I have a feeling when I go home and get organized and rested up, I’ll carry on at home. I don’t think this is the end. I’ll probably always be sewing.”
Doris Flamminio plans to lock the door to her shop for the final time this Saturday, Dec. 1.