Shawn Montique started out selling Caribbean spices from his car, and now has a new storefront in downtown Dartmouth, N.S.
It all started when Montique, who's originally from Jamaica and studied at Nova Scotia Community College, saw a growing demand for products from his home country.
He began supplying several restaurants in Dartmouth and Halifax with spices, but before long his customers wanted more.
Earlier this month, Gloria's International Grocery Store officially opened on Portland Street in Dartmouth. The store is named after Montique's late grandmother, who had nine children and 25 grandchildren.
Listen to Shawn Montique's full interview with Information Morning:
"She was a business owner herself who wasn't afraid to take on any challenges, and she instilled that in us ... If you believe in something, you should go ahead and try," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Tuesday.
The shelves of Gloria's are stocked with items like yellow yams, plantains, June plums and mangoes.
Montique said he's been overwhelmed by the response so far.
"That was quite surprising to me to see how much people that are not originally from Jamaica who want to share in our culture," he said.
At first, Montique was working with suppliers in Toronto to stock his store, but he's since opened a new business in Jamaica.
"They ship them directly to us here in Halifax because getting this stuff at the right price for the people is a part of what we want to do to make it more reasonable," he said.
When Gloria's had its grand opening on May 7, people from across the Atlantic region with Jamaican roots showed up to celebrate.
People stayed well into the night to play dominoes, listen to music and eat jerk chicken, reminding Montique of the kind of community spirit he'd find at shops back in Jamaica.
"Dominos on Saturday is a thing that we do in Jamaica and I'm surprised to see that we're doing it here as well," he said.
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
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