New Marché Masham owner ready for tourist season
William Sassine moved his life 1,500 kilometres just to own a grocery store in Masham.
The new owner of Marché Masham, formerly Alimentation Pilon, packed up his life in Halifax two weeks ago and made a bee-line for the Hills in order to open his new grocery store in time for spring cottagers and residents looking for some essentials. Sassine hosted a soft-open at the store March 17 — less than two months after the long-standing Pilon closed for good in January.
“I love it,” said Sassine, standing amongst the half-stocked shelves at the familiar grocery store. “It's a nice spot. And I know that this place will especially get a lot of tourists.”
Not much has changed since he took over from the Pilon family, who ran the store for an incredible 42 years. The layout is the same, many of the products are the same – so far – and, perhaps most importantly, the store’s SAQ will remain. It is the only full liquor store in the municipality — something his customers were already asking about before he opened the doors.
“I feel bad because they are excited to come in and at the same time, we cannot help the customers,” said Sassine, as customers popped their heads inside the doors March 15 to see if they were open. “Everybody can't wait for us to open. For me, it seems like a friendly, nice community here.”
And Sassine is not just a Masham business owner; he’s also a Masham resident and will be living above the store in the apartments. He’s looking forward to getting to know the community. And although he hasn’t used his French in 25 years, it’s like “riding a bike,” he said.
“We were born in Lebanon, and French was our second language,” he said, pleading for a bit of patience from customers. “We studied in school at university, but it’s been 25 years since I have been speaking French. I understand, and I can read, but I will just need a little bit of practice. Two weeks and then I will be fine,” he added, referring to his family upbringing.
Sassine said he approached the Pilon family two years ago to purchase the grocery store, but, at the time, they weren’t ready to sell. Sassine’s brother owns a fleet of grocery stores in Gatineau and when the store finally did come up for sale earlier this year, he jumped on it.
Sassine, who ran a small depanneur, grocery store and pizza shop in Halifax, said customers can expect regular liquidation sales throughout the year. Maybe he’ll even bring back some Pizza Corner vibes from Halifax.