by Stella Shepard
Julio’s Seafood Market was the winner of the New Business of the Year Award during the 15th Annual Business and Excellence Awards hosted by the Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce.
Julio Sanchez, owner and operator, opened the seasonal business in May 2021.
The market is located at the Shops of St. Peters Landing in picturesque St. Peter’s Bay, and offers locally sourced, premium, fresh and frozen seafood.
“It was an unexpected and an exciting win,” says Julio. “Three years ago, having a retail store was nowhere near my thoughts. It’s been an interesting journey to becoming a shop owner.”
Julio, born in the Dominican Republic, had been living in Toronto, Ontario since 1989 with family. In 2016, Julio was travelling in the Maritimes and decided it would be fascinating to cross the Confederation Bridge and tour PEI. He was smitten by the Island’s beauty, the friendliness of Islanders, and the slower pace of life compared to Toronto.
He pulled over on an Island roadside and a motorist stopped and inquired if everything was okay. “That would never happen in Toronto,” he says. “I was overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of a stranger.”
He traded city living for rural life in the tranquil community of St. Peters Bay and secured employment. James MacAulay, a retired long-time educator and resident, introduced Julio to volunteerism in the community.
Julio became a volunteer firefighter and worked on various community projects including the St. Peter’s Area Development Corporation. “One of my tasks for the corporation was to search for a seafood retailer for the Shops of St. Peter’s Landing,” says Julio.
He contacted Mickey Rose, owner of MR Seafoods, and inquired if he was interested in opening a seafood market at the Shops of St. Peter’s Landing. Mickey was not interested but suggested that Julio should open a seafood market.
Julio mulled over the idea but before diving into unknown territory and inquired about working with Mickey to learn the logistics of the business. “I didn’t know anything about fish except putting it in a frying pan and eating it,” says Julio.
Mickey agreed to hire Julio to learn more about running a fish market business. “Mickey takes a lot of pride in the product he sells, and I wanted to mirror that same pride in my own business,” says Julio. “Working with Mickey contributed to the success of my business.
“I support local businesses and treat customers like family. My suppliers are local, and I promote local businesses. I believe businesses need to support and promote local. I think it took a pandemic to appreciate locally sourced produce.”
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 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.
Julio met with Martina and Helen and secured the necessary business loan to open his business. As well, he enrolled in business related courses offered through CBDC East.
CBCD East helped Julio to become an entrepreneur. “If it wasn’t for the support of CBDC East, I would not have been able to open the business,” says Julio.
About the staff
“I have one staff member I trained within a few days with emphasis on providing good customer service,” says Julio. “Our aim is to treat customers the same way we would want to be treated when shopping.”
Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce Awards
- Business Excellence Award: Chapman Brothers
- Community Impact Award: Butlers Clover Farm
- Innovation Winner: Souris Sauces
For more information about Julio’s Seafood Market, contact Julio Sanchez at 902-739-2202 or email [email protected]
For more information about Community Business Development Corporation East (CBDC) call 902-838-4030. Visit www.cbdc.ca
For more information about Eastern PEI Chamber of Commerce, visit www.epeicc.ca