Nathalie Slight | Journalist
He's from Valleyfield. She's from Trois-Rivières. And in 2015, Olivier Myre and Roxanne Monfette heard the call of the country.
Today, the young couple owns Aux Cinq Sœurs, a coffee shop and store that's a gathering place for locals and visitors in Sainte-Thècle in Mauricie.
Falling head-over-heels for an old general store
In 2015, Olivier and Roxanne fell in love with a charming property in Sainte-Thècle while browsing a real estate website.
"It was the building attached to the house that got our attention--an old general store that had been vacant for twenty-some years. The first time we saw it in person, we could see how badly it had been neglected. But we also saw what a great business opportunity it was," recalls Roxanne with a smile.
Bringing people together
As students, Roxanne and Olivier spent a lot of time in coffee shops. So when they noticed Sainte-Thècle didn't have one (the closest coffee shop is in Shawinigan), the idea of opening a coffee shop was a no-brainer.
They wanted to recreate the warmth of the original David Leblanc General Store, which was a social meet-up spot for locals and people passing through town from 1890 until 1996. "And the name Café-Boutique Aux Cinq Sœurs is a nod to the store's history. The owner's daughters used to run the general store," adds Olivier.
Showcasing local artisans
For assistance putting down roots in their adopted home, the couple turned to Place aux jeunes en région, an organization that helps 18- to 35-year-olds relocate to towns across Quebec.
Their agent planned a trip for them to explore the Mékinac county regional municipality and forge relationships with local businesses.
"That's when we found our first business partners--Belle à Croquer artisanal soaps and Boulangerie Germain, which makes the pastries for our coffee shop and store," says Roxanne.
Customers can peruse the creations of nearly a hundred local artisans as they sip their lattes.
Living the country life
The couple swapped their cramped city flat for a stunning home/coffee shop/store on a big lot.
"The quality of life here is amazing. It's a quiet little town where everyone knows each other," explains Roxanne.
"We have big plans for our business, including building out the second floor of the store. And on a personal level, we're 29 and 26, so we're ready to start a family here in Sainte-Thècle," reveals Olivier.
The young entrepreneurs received support from the Fonds communautaire d'emprunt de la Mauricie, a Desjardins Microcredit to Businesses partner.