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P.E.I. clothing brand opens its first retail location

Brendan Melanson and Alyssa Wright are co-owners of the Maritime Muscle store in Cavendish. They opened the store in four days, after operating online since 2015.
Brendan Melanson and Alyssa Wright are co-owners of the Maritime Muscle store in Cavendish. They opened the store in four days, after operating online since 2015. - Daniel Brown
CAVENDISH, P.E.I. —

Brendan Melanson had four days to open a store in Cavendish.

He already had the business. Maritime Muscle, an athletic clothing brand, has been operating online since 2015.

But over the years it’s been tough selling his products solely online. People don’t like paying shipping costs, especially when bigger companies like Amazon can give better deals online, he said.

“In today’s economy everyone wants things fast and they want it cheap. And I don’t blame them.”

So when he saw space for rent at the Cavendish Boardwalk on July 2, he got to work.

“There are things that people would rather buy in person, and clothing is one of them.”

He wanted to have it opened for the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. He secured the space and called one of his product suppliers in Truro, N.S.,  to see if they could produce enough T-shirts, tank tops and hoodies by July 5.

“No, absolutely not,” they replied. “But we’ll try.”

Despite technical challenges, everything was ready the day before. By that point, Melanson and his fiancée, Alyssa Wright, were arranging everything from product labels, a temporary sign for the storefront, and Red Bull energy drinks for the mini fridge.

They hopped in their car and drove to Truro. Once they got back, they stayed up until 4 a.m. on July 5 printing the logo onto each product.  

They had tons of help from family and friends.

“The community came together to make this happen,” Melanson said.

By noontime on July 6, Maritime Muscle was officially opened.

Business has been good since. Melanson has received great feedback from customers, and other retailers have inquired about carrying his product.

When Melanson was a kid, he was bullied for being overweight.

“One of the most welcoming places I ever walked into was a gym,” he said.

Melanson started Maritime Muscle because he found that athletic clothing for bigger people was more expensive and harder to come by. While it’s more expensive to supply clothing sizes 2XL and up, they absorb the cost so customers don’t have to pay more.

“We don’t want them feeling out of place because they need an extra size,” said Wright, the store's co-owner.

Maritime Muscles’ branding is meant to reflect the strong work ethic of Atlantic Canadians. Their products are almost completely made within Canada, and Melanson is working to switch over entirely to support the local economy.

He also finds his Canadian suppliers make better quality clothing.

“We haven’t had one return since 2015,” he said.

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