In 2021, Eusebia Kiedrowski wrote a business plan that would encompass everything the Salty Mare Mercantile is today, a cafe with an outdoor patio, consignment store, and hygiene and cleaning supplies refillery. She applied for the Beautification Loan from Community Futures Chinook, where she was mainly connected with Alvaro Mendes.
She received the loan and was able to completely renovate her current space in September 2021, which included knocking down walls, repainting, and re-designing the interior. After opening the doors in November 2021, she received an immense amount of support from the residents of Duchess and area and continued support from Community Futures Chinook.
“Alvaro has been like a coach to me. If I’m stuck on a decision, I know he’s one phone call away. It’s very comforting to know that, as a business owner, someone is there to support you along the way,” says Kiedrowski.
The Salty Mare Mercantile serves sweets and breads that are baked daily, as well as freshly made soups and sandwiches and hot and cold beverages. The dining area features comfy chairs and tables that have a pastel colour palette. The shopping area features a list of small businesses that are beautifully organized for an easy and fun shopping experience. The patio will be built for the upcoming summer months, and the process of starting the refillery has begun.
“I grew up in southern Ontario and food and hospitality were a huge part of my life. I’ve always loved that connection with people, and I’ve always wanted to open a cafe. When Covid came, I was off work a lot because my kids weren’t in school consistently. This space became available, and I already had the business model written up, so that was when I approached Community Futures.”
The process was welcoming and there are moments Kiedrowski still remembers to this day when she was presenting the business model. She was unsure if she would receive the loans, but when she did, it gave her hope that other people also believed in her business.
“Having support like this was really good. It was nice to have somebody else validate that the dream I had was realistic and achievable. Alvaro has been really great with helping me access more grants, which especially helps in the beginning of owning a business,” she says.
Kiedrowski says Duchess is a community that fiercely supports their local businesses, and she is happy to see new and returning customers daily. She’s had people taste her baked goods, some are gluten-aware, dairy-free and vegan, and she was asked if she could mail her treats to Rocky Mountain House.
The Salty Mare Mercantile can be found online at www.saltymaremerc.ca/.