SUMMERSIDE – Leilani Cornejo Gallant never doubted that opening an Asian food store was a good idea.
“Stock is mainly Filipino products because there’s a demand for it.”
Gallant came to Canada in 2013 and began working in a fish plant in Wellington.
She’s originally from Taiwan, where she owned a food supply store.
Once she began working she made friends with her coworkers and their communities.
“They [the Filipinos] would always ask me to order things for them. So I gradually began to collect items. It started with me placing everything I had on one table, and travelling with my husband to Halifax to buy product,” she explained.
Now it’s grown into multiple shelving units, six freezers and a business called 2 Brothers Asian Store, which orders products from two companies in Toronto.
New customers, mainly Filipino, are continuing to discover the store.
“It started to grow while I was still working at the fish plant. Then I got pregnant and continued to run the store and work. I only stopped working at the fish plant in August.
“I loved working there, but after working all day and then coming home to take care of a baby and run a store I found it difficult. I needed to better manage my time.”
So she decided to use their child tax benefit to help get the business off the ground.
Now Gallant runs the store and works as a cook at Brothers 2 restaurant in Summerside.
“Cooking is my real passion so it’s really nice to be able to go there and cook in the evenings.”
Gallant says she gets a lot of customers from all over the Prince County area.
“People come from Tignish, Alberton and O’Leary, as well as Borden-Carleton, Cavendish and other places.”
Convenience is a big part of the store’s success.
“It’s a lot easier for some to come to Summerside than to go all the way to Charlottetown, especially in the winter time.”
Over Christmas, Gallant sold more than 230 of the popular Goldilocks cakes, which is the Philippine equivalent to yule logs.
Gallant says the store has been widely accepted.
“My family and husband have been very encouraging. But the customers also seem to really like it. I think they like the idea of one in Summerside. I really like it because I get to meet a lot of new people and it’s been really embraced by the community.”
Her husband, Jason, says she’s done better than he could have imagined.
“I’m definitely proud. We never expected this much feedback. We talked about it once and then all of a sudden people began to come for products.”
Gallant says she feels very lucky to have the opportunity.
“There’s a trust I have established with the customers.”
There are no set operating hours for 2 Brothers Asian Store, said Gallant, but if she or her husband is home, the store is usually open.
It is located at 27 Pine Drive in Summerside.
Products at 2 Brothers Asian Store:
–Frozen foods and meats
–Chips and snacks