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Alum strengthens community while growing business

Shawn Montique standing in front a store display.
Shawn Montique, owner of Gloria's International Grocery, says customers are coming from across the Maritimes to buy authentic Caribbean products.

After selling spices and other goods from his car for a year, Shawn Montique (Applied Media and Communication Arts ‘18) opened Gloria’s International Grocery Store in Dartmouth.

“I decided to start by selling goods from my car and get a feel of the market and the demand,” says Shawn. “After doing that for about a year, I decided to open my own storefront.”

Shawn opened the storefront in May 2022, and it’s believed to be the first dedicated Caribbean grocery store in Atlantic Canada. Since opening, customers have been coming from across the Maritimes to buy his authentic Caribbean products.

“Business has been great so far. With the demand, I keep growing and getting exposure to a lot of Canadians who want to explore new foods, such as Jamaican food. I’m also connected with new restaurants who want to use some of the foods that I offer, so I’m a distributor/store owner,” says Shawn.

Finding support at NSCC

Originally from Manchester, Jamaica, Shawn Montique came to Canada in 2015 to study business at NSCC.

“I had the opportunity to learn about photography and graphic design, so I use that to market a lot of the things I’m doing,” says Shawn. “In business, marketing is key and most of that I learned from my program at NSCC.”

Since graduating, Shawn has stayed connected with NSCC Entrepreneurship. “Before starting the business, I consulted with someone there to point me in the direction on where to get some information and help. NSCC has always been helpful for me to grow.”

Following his grandmother’s steps

When Shawn’s grandmother, Gloria, passed away in 2020, he decided to name the store in her honour.

“My grandmother was a businesswoman, and she was very supportive of me when I was doing it out of my car - she was looking to come and be a part of it,” says Shawn. “She was a storefront owner back in Manchester, Jamaica. I grew up helping there, which is where I got the foundation of doing a storefront.”

Shawn says having his business named after his grandmother is a source of strength for him. When things are rough, he likes to think about what she would do in those situations.

Bringing community together

In addition to bringing a taste of home to Dartmouth, Shawn is creating a space for culture and community.

“My favourite part of running Gloria’s International Grocery is meeting new people and bringing the community together. I see a lot of friendship generated from this store, a lot of connections being exchanged and people traveling from far,” says Shawn.

Shawn also devoted the store’s front room to be a community space for people to gather. On most Saturday evenings, you can find people playing dominos and other games in the space.

“The community room is a copy of what we do back home. When you go to a local store, there’s always an area for games or just to get together,” says Shawn. “I wanted to have an area where people from the community can do that, and I was lucky enough that they wanted it.”

Contributing to the local economy

Shawn hopes to launch a website soon to expand his business to other locations. “I’m hoping to have other locations across the Atlantic region, but most of all, I want to continue to provide for the people and what they’re missing. I hope to grow in satisfying their needs, get product faster and continue to negotiate better prices for them as well.”

While Shawn’s business continues to grow and attract attention, he hopes other international graduates who started businesses are recognized as well.

“It’s not only me, but there’s a lot of other businesses opening in the province, which is just an indication of how international students tend to help the province to achieve its goals by starting and operating businesses here,” says Shawn.