As the owner of Montreal’s newest Black and Caribbean, grocery store Peter Francis is excited just to open the doors of Marche ME every morning.
“I think it very important for many in our community to be able to shop at a place that is truly community owned, where every effort is made to serve them in a respectful manner.” says the Jamaican-born entrepreneur, who launched the business in the midst of the pandemic this past February together with his partner, Sandra Lynch.
“What I’ve learnt over the years is that Black and Caribbean people are a very proud group. And many are troubled by the fact that there are so few merchants from our community selling the food, drinks and other supplies that families are putting on their tables.
I’m certainly not saying that people from other cultures shouldn’t be selling food to us, but I think it’s important that more Black and Caribbean merchants get into the industry, which continues to grow, every year.
As I do my shopping to stock the store, I’m always to see how many people of different culture are in the mix, trying to sell food to or community. For many of them, it’s a market they stumbled upon by chance… we weren’t their intended target but now that they have found us, they are doing very well.”
For Francis it’s not so much about competing with other outlet instead he goes the extra mile to make sure that the fledgling store, meet some of the immediate needs of his growing client base by stocking his shelves with a wide array of the foodstuff that they need.
“It’s a work in progress,” he told the CONTACT. “We know with time, we’ll continue to grow and make more supplies available, but for now, our focus is to provide good quality products at reasonable prices.”
He says the market for Caribbean and African food continues to grow exponentially, that’s why it’s so attractive to other merchants.
Marche ME, located on Jean-Milot Street in LaSalle offers a pleasant shopping experience. It is sparkling clean, well-lit and well-organized with aisles that are easy to navigate and shelves packed with dried and canned goods that are used to fill the pantry of each and every Black and Caribbean home.
The family-run business also carries a small but adequate supply of frozen meat and fish as well as fruits and vegetables all at prices that are among the most competitive in the city..
The experience is enhanced by the store’s young staff, usually one or two of Francis’ children, Sheyenne and Michael both of whom manage the everyday operations and go out of their way to make sure that customers served with respect and courtesy.
“Sadly many of the merchants that our community go out of our way to support, tend to take that loyalty for granted… we make respect and gratitude a big part of our strategy to grow. But we are depending on our community to show some support.”