by Stella Shepard
Ashley DeRoche purchased Pigeons Gift Shop around her fortieth birthday in June 2022.
The retail business located on Main Street in Montague offers local and Canadian artisans’ products, fashionable and affordable women’s clothing, and home décor. Ashley wants to support the efforts of “small makers”, environmentally and socially minded entrepreneurs who give back to their communities.
“I had time during the COVID pandemic to reflect on what makes me happy,” says Ashley. “I had a job as a health and safety manager in Charlottetown, but it just didn’t feel like the right fit anymore.
“I always wanted to have my own business. One day, while surfing the Internet I saw Pigeons Gift Shop was for sale and reached out to the owner with questions about the business.”
Ashley and her seven-year-old son, Emery, drove from their Clyde River home to Montague to visit the business. Ashley really liked the atmosphere and the vibe of the shop. Months later, Ashley took a leap of faith into the retail sector and purchased the business.
“Remember the time you broke a mug?” interrupts Emery. “And you said, oh no! And then you said, it’s okay, I own the shop.”
“That was the moment I realized that I am self-employed and I am in charge of my own destiny,” Ashley adds with a laugh. “I wanted to show my son that working for yourself is rewarding and teaches valuable lessons.”
Ashley is a member of the PEI Businesswomen’s Association and attended a Lunch & Learn event hosted by the organization. A presentation by Sara Roach-Lewis at the event inspired Ashley to consider leaving a paid position to become self-employed.
“I was feeling run-down and stressed-out at my former job,” says Ashley. “I wanted a workplace change but was unsure if I had what it takes to become self-employed.
“At the end of the presentation, I won a draw for a book written by Sara called She Rules: What You Didn’t Know Is Holding You Back in Business. I was so inspired by her book that it gave me the confidence to risk leaving my job and purchase Pigeons Gift Shop.”
Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) located at the Rural Action Centre on Main Street in Montague assists in creating small businesses and in expanding and modernizing existing businesses. They do this by providing financial and technical services to entrepreneurs. Services target entrepreneurs who require customized financing not ordinarily available from traditional sources.
CBDC East is staffed by Martina MacDonald, Director, Helen Antle, CBDC Officer, and Terri Taylor, Accounts Officer.
Ashley contacted the CBDC East staff and arranged a meeting with Martina and Helen. The staff assisted in developing a business plan and offered a financial loan. “I contacted banking institutions and was denied loans,” says Ashley.
“CBDC East has been very supportive, and the staff is always available if I have any business-related questions. As well, I plan to access business-related programs offered through CBDC East.”
About the staff
Ashley has hired a part-time summer student and a full-time summer student and plans to hire more staff as needed.
For more information about Pigeons Gift Shop, contact Ashley DeRoche at 902-213-8172 or email [email protected]
Find Pigeons Gift Shop at Facebook: @pigeonsmontague