Monique Bisson-Gironi and her husband, Matteo Gironi, moved to Prince Edward Island in January, hoping to fulfil their ambition of opening a restaurant, but they've done much more in such a short time.
In March, the couple opened a weekend market in Belfast, P.E.I., called the Point Prim Market 968.
"We wouldn't have been able to have this opportunity in Ontario because we didn't have the property for it," Bisson-Gironi said.
"We always knew we wanted to open a restaurant, but we didn't really think about the idea to have the market until later on."
Bisson-Gironi said she and her husband had always wanted to move to P.E.I. They visited the Island three years ago, and began planning for a permanent return in the future.
"We actually discussed the whole drive back, you know, how we can make life on P.E.I. work."
The COVID-19 pandemic motivated them to move to P.E.I. sooner than they'd planned, Bisson-Gironi said.
"COVID kind of shut down things in terms of our industries, and we thought let's just pivot instead of worrying too much, you know, and move across Canada," she said.
"We re-evaluated ourselves and our businesses and decided that this was the right place and the right time for us to move."
Opening the market
The couple moved into an estate in Belfast, and their house was filled with furniture and antiques from the previous owners.
Bisson-Gironi said she tried selling some of them on Facebook Marketplace, but then decided to sell them in person. They did so from their home.
"We noticed there wasn't any market in Belfast, and that was kind of weird. There are a lot of artisans here."
After discussing with some friends, the couple decided to run a market from their estate, and invite other vendors to join them.
"We thought 'how great would it be to have all these artisans, very talented people in P.E.I. to be able to bring the community together in Belfast'."
Reaching out to vendors
After opening the market, Bisson-Gironi reached out to potential vendors.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, they opened with 10 vendors on March 24. Now they have 26 vendors selling commodities ranging from food products, jewelry, interior and exterior decor, furniture and clothing.
Ally Gallo is one of the vendors.
The care worker at the Prince Edward Home creates and sells stained glass.
She learned the skill during last year's lockdown, she said.
I really thank her for making this [market], it really helps the community and brings people around the area. — Ally Gallo
"I'm very artistic, so my husband kind of encouraged me to get into something else, like try something new. So I just went on YouTube and found stained glass and heard it was kind of a dying art and decided to give it a try."
Although she lives in Charlottetown, she was eager to work with Bisson-Gironi after seeing her Facebook post, Gallo said.
"[The market] is kind of like an avenue to see what I could do with my art and see if it would sell."
Helping Belfast tourism
Gallo is grateful to Bisson-Gironi for creating a marketing opportunity, and means to attract other Prince Edward Islanders and tourists to Belfast.
"I really thank her for making this [market], it really helps the community and brings people around the area," she said.
"Not too many people go to Point Prim. I had never been there until I met my husband."
Working with Bisson-Gironi has been a pleasure so far, Gallo said.
"She's always checking on you, making sure everything is OK. She's helping with your advertising to get the word out there, that you're at the market. She's really good at organizing everybody, especially with all the COVID restriction stuff."
As for opening a restaurant, which was the initial plan for the couple, construction will begin by the end of July, Bisson-Gironi said.
It will be called Bar Vela Pizzeria and Mercato.
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