• Stuart Benson

Artists and businesses promote ‘buy local’ initiatives

With Halloween now officially in the rearview mirror, Hills residents and business owners are setting their sights on Christmas with more focus on shopping local amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Christina Stobert, co-owner and manager of Le Hibou in Wakefield said she was inspired to set up the small boutique filled with local products inside the now empty restaurant dining area due to a mixture of nostalgia and sentimentality at the prospect of not having a Christmas craft sale this year due to COVID-19. Stuart Benson photo

Louse Marchildon, coordinator of social and economic development for the MRC des Collines, said that, with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the MRC itself would not be organizing any special events for the holiday season and that it was more important than ever for local residents and businesses to “regroup and organize themselves,” as she has already seen from a number of initiatives already.


“I think the initiative is marvellous,” Marchildon said, pointing to the pop-up boutique in Le Hibou and the Facebook page, ‘Support and Buy Local 819,’ created by Stella Pagani, owner of Vortex Art Studio in Wakefield, where local artisans and independent business owners can advertise their products to other members of the local community.


Shelley Crabtree, president of the Chambre-Wakefield-La Pêche, echoed Marchildon’s sentiment, reminding local Christmas shoppers that November is a crucial time for the Christmas-shopping season.


“I'm really happy to see how much residents are emphasizing 'be local, buy local,' as far as placing orders and being very specific in planning Christmas earlier,” Crabtree said. “It’s so key.”

Crabtree also added that the pop-up boutique being run inside Le Hibou is something other restaurants should consider imitating.


“It's brilliant, as far as I'm concerned, and a lot of other businesses could consider doing the same,” Crabtree stated. “It provides some interesting possibilities if people have to go into the store anyway to pick-up their food,” she added about Le Hibou’s take-out only option.


Christina Stobert, co-owner and manager of Le Hibou in Wakefield, said she was inspired to set up the small boutique inside the now empty restaurant dining area partially due to the fact that many of her employees already had their own side-hustles, such as Mega Bubbles or handmade knives.


It was also a mixture of nostalgia and sentimentality at the prospect of not having a Christmas craft sale this year, she explained.


“I remembered 40 years ago going to the fair at the Wakefield school when I was a little girl and buying Sally Swan's [Wakefield resident] fudge,” Stobert recalled. “I thought about all of the space that I have and all of the artists that I know, and it just made sense. I wanted to do anything I could to keep that spirit going.”


Stobert said that it was important this year – more than ever – to support local artists and maybe get some people into the restaurant who might not have done so otherwise, plus it gives customers something to look at while they wait for their food.


If you would like to contact Stobert about setting up a table or shelf to sell your Christmas goods or art, you can email her at lehiboucafe@gmail.com.


In Chelsea, Lélia Bâcle-Mainguy, and her colleagues Danahé Savoie and Camilla Cazelays, employees of Manuela Teixeira and Chelsea Pub, have been running their own pop-up boutique, La Petite Grocerie, filled with local art and products inside the old depanneur building at 244 Old Chelsea, which Teixeira owns. The boutique is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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