PEI

Former fish plant worker opens Filipino grocery store

Leilani Cornejo Gallant says she never would have guessed, when she moved to P.E.I. from the Philippines in 2013, she'd be a wife and mother running her own business.

Leilani Corejo Gallant busy keeping shelves stocked at Two Brothers Asian store near Summerside

Leilani Corejo Gallant looks over her stock of sweets and treats at her Summerside food store. (Karen Mair)

Leilani Cornejo Gallant says she never would have guessed, when she moved to P.E.I. from the Philippines in 2013, she'd be a wife and mother running her own business.

Like hundreds of other Filipinos, she first took a job at a fish plant as a temporary foreign worker. And like all of her friends, she missed the foods from home.

She'd previously owned a food store in Taiwan, so she decided to do it again. 

There are a wide variety of chips, which are popular at fish plants in western P.E.I., Gallant says. (Karen Mair )

The P.E.I. store, named for her two sons, is called Two Brothers Asian store. It's in the basement of the family home in a suburb on the edge of Summerside.

'When I started the business I didn't know where to turn," Gallant said.

After she had her baby Ivan, she decided to invest his child tax credit in the business, she said.

"It was a lot of work and paperwork. I got approval from the city of Summerside, registered the business and took a food safety course." 

Leilani's son Ivan is a big fan of the treats in her store.

The investment is paying off as customers — many Filipino — continue to discover her store.

"They're mostly working at the fish plants in Tignish, Alberton, O'Leary and Wellington," Gallant said. "Many also live in Summerside and Charlottetown."

Dry and canned goods at the store include noodles, canned tuna, vinegars and spices. (Karen Mair )

Gallant works with two Toronto distributors to bring in her specialty goods. 

With business growing — she started with one freezer of food and now has six — Leilani and her husband, Jason Gallant, are looking at moving the shop out of the house.

Leilani and her husband, Jason Gallant, are looking at moving the shop out of the house. (Karen Mair )

The store is stocked with dried foods, canned goods, frozen foods and toiletries. The colour purple appears in many products and cakes.

"It comes from the purple yam, it's called 'ube' in the Philippines," Gallant explained.

For the holidays, Gallant is bringing in a cake that's popular with Filipinos. Goldilocks cake is similar to a yule log, and you can order it in purple. 

"They can't get it here and especially in the winter it's an awful time and most of my customers don't own a vehicle, so it's very convenient." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Karen Mair is an award-winning journalist and an 'Islander by choice.' Since 1986 she's worked as a host, producer, reporter and social media presenter. These days, you'll find Karen reporting for digital and radio.

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