The Elora Mercantile discusses downtown Elora reopening (Ep 09)
In this episode, host Ryan Joyce talks with Patti Boutin owner of the Elora Mercantile. We discuss her families origins from a tiny Quebec village famous for whales and how she ended up in Elora, plus reopening and the feedback, changes to the store, Jennifer Lopez trivia, and so much more.
Patti shares her experience re-opening the Elora Mercantile
She shares what changes she’s had to make to the store and what the reception has been from both locals and tourists
She shares her family's unique roots to a tiny whaling-village in Quebec, Northern Ontario and how she ended up in Elora.
Patti is an artist and creative with a passion for food! She shares three local must-try restaurants
Plus, sanitization, signage, pop-up trivia, and much more!
Watch 45sec episode highlights:
Photo credit Sophie Hogan Photography
Listen to the full episode here:
Patti Boutin, The Elora Mercantile
Audio Transcript with Patti Boutin, Elora Mercantile http://www.eloramercantile.ca/
Patricia Boutin: My family originates from Tadoussac Quebec So Tadoussac is a small town on the St Lawrence that's basically, funny to say, it's like a tourist town as well. So I guess you follow, you know, your family's path in some way. So I ended up kind of doing the same thing as my grandma and my uncle pulls and my aunts, but in the Elora, Tadoussac is a small village that survives on whale tourism. And basically they get flooded with tourists in the summer. Like you're working like 12 hour days, seven days a week. So my grandma ran a hotel motel known as the beluga. Uh, she had like a restaurant, she cooked for people. And then when she did retire from that, she always had this tiny little shop in our basement that had a door that opened on the street where she would be weaving. Um, and you know, like you could buy blank kits and beautiful linen dish towels and stuff. And so it's, it's funny to say, but it's, uh, yeah, it's probably runs in the family. There's a population of that tiny little village. It's not big. It's a, it's a really bad question for me because I'm really bad with that stuff. But smaller than the LoRa. Yeah. Like in the winter, it's cold over there. Like there, if you're you got to survive,
Ryan Joyce: I mean, we've got to be honest, we're a stone throw from all sorts of metropolises. It sounds like where you were, was very remote.
Patricia Boutin: Well, they, there is a ferry boat that brings you across, which was always my favorite part is taking the ferry and then, you know, you reached it. Uh, you know, I just love that it's st. Lawrence is like a big, River almost looks like the ocean when you're over there. You have to put tat aside, back on your list, you're missing out.
Ryan Joyce: That's, I'm going to first start with Google and look to see where it is. That's going to be my first guest. Well, okay, so you are the owner of Elora Mercantile and so would you tell everybody a little bit about what it is and what's so unique about it because it certainly is very charming.
Patricia Boutin: Well, uh, the alarm Mercantile was basically born out of a dream. Um, I've always dreamed of having a little shop, but I wanted something more, you know, so the customer can, tile is a place where I can basically do whatever I want because I'm very creative and I could never make up my mind on what I would actually do because I like to do many things and I get bored easy. So by having a general store, um, you can come up with a lot of different products and, you know, it's kind of like an outlet for my creativity, but I also wanted it to be equal conscious. Um, basically it's a general store would have conscience where we support local. Uh, we're all about the magic. So, um, there's no magic and Walmart, that's my favorite saying right now, but this is why people come because they feel at home, they feel this vibe and we're trying to grow that vibe and get people to really appreciate the small things and the things that are made with passion and with love. And, you know, when you start buying from small guys, like they make their stuff with so much love and care that it's totally a different thing when you actually use it, you can feel it, right. So we're really big advocates to support all those small producers and share their magic with as many people as we can.
Ryan Joyce: Yeah. I really love some of the things that you're doing. One thing that stood out in my mind, which I thought was very creative. I had personally never seen this before was the refillable solutions that you have
Patricia Boutin: Basically, I think like we've, we've gone into an era where we have to be more conscious about the way that we're doing things and the way that we're living and consuming. So part of the shop is also a healthy lifestyle. So healthy lifestyle means that the products that we carry are a hundred percent natural, they're scented with essential oils or unscented, because there's a lot of people with sensitivities and they're refillable. And that's one thing we're really proud of keeping doing during the pandemic is that we've come up with a solution where we can actually still refill, um, I couldn't handle the waste that was happening. You know, it's not because we're having a big crisis that we have to create more garbage and, you know, and, uh, I think that we still have to really be careful in how we, you know, how much garbage we're making right now.
Ryan Joyce: Are you an artist yourself? Like what kind of art do you do?
Patricia Boutin: Oh my God. I don't know LA, my background's in interior design, but I actually went to a York for fine arts at some point. And yeah, I did. I did quite a few things. I did floral design. I did like, I made jewelry, like, and I still do, but I really have a passion for food. And, uh, like, you know, for me, it's always an adventure to go somewhere and discover food and share it because I find that it's the way that people express theirself and they share their love through food. So it's kind of magical. I'm going to put you on the spot.
Ryan Joyce: What would it be? Three local go to restaurants, food, great food stops that you would recommend.
Patricia Boutin: Well, if you're in a Elora I would definitely start if you're going for food right now, the friendly society. I don't know if you've tried it yet. Awesome. Awesome. Uh, one I'm really looking forward to opening again is, uh, the Evelyn. So Evelyn is like, we're just waiting and I'm also the handsome devil. So those are all close to home. There's the wild Turkey. I can't, I, I can't really there's there's um, they definitely like the wild tart is doing like a, an amazing job with takeout. Um, they probably were the only ones that kind of like were open throughout all the pandemic. So like, we're just really fortunate. Like we're having like great restaurants opening up and we, we make a point every week to actually go and support a different restaurant cause we want to keep them.
Ryan Joyce: And you've alluded to the big topic at hand. Of course here, you're reopening like as well. We are Ontario is. And so what are you having to do? What kind of changes have you had to do to the store to meet these guidelines?
Patricia Boutin: Well, we are lucky enough at the shop that we have two entrances, so we have a back door in the front door. Uh, we're very small. So it enables us to really keep an eye on what's going on and we can actually supervise people better. Um, so we had to put a big, big plexiglass at the cash. Uh, we wear masks like all the time. Uh, there's a sanitation, uh, sanitization station. Uh, there's where my French comes in. People have to send a ties, their hands upon entering. We ask that they don't touch things that they don't need to touch and ask for help. Um, and we also put a little gate at the shops, so we can only take two people in at a time. So they come in the front and then they go out the back and then we let two more people in. Right.
Ryan Joyce: I was the opening. How was reception? Was it busy? What were some of the things?
Patricia Boutin: Well, uh, we've been busier than we thought we'd be like. Um, I think people were just so happy to be in the shop again, like, you know, it's not the same online, right. And for me, I didn't make a shop to be online. I made it for the people. I love the people. I miss my hugs. I'm going to have to wait a bit longer for that. But, um, you know, it's just to be able to bring them in again and they get that, that nice feeling, you know? And, uh, so I we're really, um, keeping, you know, positive that everything is going to keep going the way it's going.
Ryan Joyce: It was a majority of locals or was it a majority of a tourists?
Patricia Boutin: Basically, I would say during the week, it's mostly locals and the locals kind of tend to stay away on the weekends because we are being flooded with tourists. And, um, I've been talking around to a lot of people and that there is some concerns about people not respecting the rules, people just coming to Elora thinking, Oh yeah, they don't have the virus here. Let's party time. Right? Like we're just going to do whatever we want. So right now we're concerned, this is our second weekend. Really that the streets are closed to unable, like, you know, social distancing, but people are seeing it. Like they're not taking it seriously. So what I'd like to say is if you're planning on visiting, Elora please be considerate and, you know, bring a mask with you, follow the rules and social distance. It's where you, you gotta protect us if you want us to stay open. Right. Are there any hand sanitization stations out on the streets or no, but I think that would be a really good the idea. Um, I think that after talking to several people's, there should be signage. When you enter the town, there should be a bit more supervision. You know, somebody in charge or volunteers that are looking that the rules are being followed, you know,
Did you listen to Episode 10?
Peter Mohr shares insight into Elora & Fergus businesses reopening
Ryan Joyce: Says this business is following the protocols. Is that what you mean?
Patricia Boutin: Well, I think when they actually enter Elora they should be signage or on the block streets. Like you said, maybe some people just supervising because it's not really happening outside the businesses as much, but it's also like on the streets, you'll see groups of like 12 people together. That's not acceptable. Just a really weird time, right? Like nobody's used to that the sun is shining and we think we're over this, but we still have to be careful. Like every business owners is a frontline worker right now and they're putting their life on the line to continue surviving. Like this year is about survival.
Ryan Joyce: Well, I talked with dev on dev Dalziel. She was the one that introduced me to you. And actually I saw you on the clip per CTVs or a bit of a star there. We had lots of stars come into our area. It was one of the things I chat about with dev. So I have a three trivia questions for you. No pressure. These are celebrity based. One of the star that Deb and I were chatting about probably the most famous person to come to our area. J lo
Patricia Boutin: You came here. How come? I didn't know that.
Ryan Joyce: Oh, fun. Oh, you're this is super okay.
Patricia Boutin: I didn't know that
Ryan Joyce: They wouldn't be arguably the most famous bottom to enter into Elora and Fergus so here's the trivia trivia never won a, what was the name of the movie filmed in Elora is starring Jennifer Lopez. Was it a monster in law? B maiden Manhattan, see angel eyes or D how you Sage continental drift.
Patricia Boutin: Wow. Well, I'm just going to take a guess that that's a big, big thing.
Ryan Joyce: They filmed scenes at the Elora gourds. Yeah. And so there's lots of buzz around town when that happened. I wasn't sure where that had occurred. How many years ago now. Okay. Cool. Number two. What boy band did Jennifer Lopez originally dance with? Was it a new kids on the block? B Backstreet boys SI 98 degrees or D bare naked ladies.
Patricia Boutin: I'm going to try C
Ryan Joyce: 98 degrees.
Patricia Boutin: Nope. There was new kids on the block, you know, when you doubt yourself, that's what happens. Always
Ryan Joyce: Good wisdom for everybody. Listen. Okay. There's the last one. Jennifer Lopez, family heritage is a Colombian, the Brazilian same Puerto Rican or D Russian.
Patricia Boutin: I'm really debating between Colombian and, and Brazilian. Let's go with Brazilian. She was is Puerto Rican actually. Yeah, I am actually, um, we have this joke running around with me, my husband, like he loves trivia and I'm like, you do not want to be on my team. I'm the worst person for trivia.
Ryan Joyce: I'll be too. So we'll, we'll share that pain together, but we really had some really fun stars come through. Have you had anybody, had you had any fun things?
Patricia Boutin: I, some chefs, but you know, like for me, I never look at that. Right. Like, it's like, I won't even know it's happening. I just see everybody as already being a star. So, um, I treat everybody the same way. Um, I know that in one of my houses in Elora, there was a movie filmed there. Um,
What was that movie that was still at her house? I see. I'm asking for answers right now. First of all, the world just opened up behind us. There's a lot of things going on at the Mercantile. Um, but there's been a lot in the LoRa and there's also, uh, the latest one too. That's filmed at the Corey. I mean that Cory is just, you, you know, you can't really, uh, replicate that. So, but, and also I was going to say one of my, for me, my famous person in the lower is probably a Nita Stewart. So she's a famous, uh, chef and really promoting Canadian food. So she's been a great supporter. So for me, that would be my star right now. I love that. Tell me how people can follow you the best way to get in touch with us and see what we're up to is Instagram. I find that the best platform, mostly beautiful pictures of, you know, food and what people are up to. So follow us on Instagram and, um, and you could always call us if you need anything. Cause I'm really old fashioned. And I still like to answer the phone and talk to people. I appreciate your time.
Ryan Joyce: Patti thank you so very much!
Patricia Boutin: Ryan, what a pleasure like thank you for inviting me. I've never done this before and that was a lot of fun.
Ryan Joyce: I'm so glad to have you as a guest.