Story by Neil Macmillan and photos by Jane Macmillan
Joey Jodoin, 28, is a rising star of the emerging generation of Cornwall entrepreneurs who see a big future in their hometown rather than setting their sights on larger urban centres like Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal. In mid-October, with the financial and sweat capital backing of three family members – father André, mother Lise and older sister Melanie – and the help of some hefty loans totaling $120,000 from three national or local funding agencies – the Business Development Corporation (BDC), the local Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) and Futurpreneur- and another more than $100,000 from “Dad’s bank,” Joey is opening Joe’s Quality Meats and Prepared Meals in the former Mr. Sub and Sub Place location at the corner of Fourth and Pitt, kitty corner from City Hall.
What Joey and his family firmly believe is that Cornwall is absolutely ready for an old-fashioned butcher shop selling quality local meat, combined with a prepared meal service operated by his Dad.
When you meet Joey, you immediately sense that he has the right stuff to make a go of things – and clearly the funding agencies and his Dad, Mum and sister thought so too!
Interestingly, Joey only discovered that he wanted to be a butcher when working part-time at a Metro supermarket in Ottawa while taking video game developer studies at Algonquin College from 2011 to 2013. A co-worker there named Peter Mann took him under his wing and showed him “every little trick in the trade.”
Then in 2017, after realizing that the big city life with its fast pace and high costs weren’t for him and missing the peace and quiet of Cornwall, he decided to move back to his hometown and soon found a position as a butcher at Baxtrom’s Independent Grocer on Ninth Street. However, like any natural entrepreneur, he could see tremendous potential in the kind of work he was doing but would have to be his own boss to prove it. Fortunately, he found ready ears in his father André, a longtime trucker with a local transportation firm, and his mother Lise, a local office manager.
The parents not only decided to support their son with encouragement, they also took the plunge and resigned from their jobs to work in the new store alongside their son – Lise as the salesperson behind the counter and André as the cook of the prepared meals, while Melanie, a graphic designer by profession, will manage the store’s social media platforms and also take over from her Mom at 4 p.m. for the last two hours of the retail day.
In other words, the Jodoins look like one of those solid, closely-knit, hardworking families that are the backbone of the Cornwall community and who very much make this Seaway city such an exciting and enjoyable place to live.
I recently caught up with all four Jodoins at their home to hear more about their ambitious new venture from Joey himself. Here is my Seeker-style 5 question-interview…
Question #1: Starting a new business is scary at the best of times but especially during this pandemic, what kind of previous business experience have you had?
Well, I’ve never operated my own business before but I received excellent training from the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre alongside many other budding young Cornwall entrepreneurs like me. In fact, I can’t speak too highly about the Cornwall Business Enterprise Centre. I also had an excellent mentor at Futurpreneur called Zafar Munir.
Question #2: Tell us more about how all four family members will be involved?
For a start, I’m a butcher – it’s a job I’m passionate about and good at. Then there’s my Dad – he’s always loved to cook for the family, and we can attest how good he is. Next, there’s my Mom – she’s got a warm, friendly personality and is also a good administrator. And last but not least is my dynamic big sister Melanie who is developing quite a buzz about the new store on Facebook and other platforms. As for the business itself, I’m the majority owner and my Dad has the rest of the shares.
Question #3: With the survival of so many businesses threatened by COVID-19, what makes you think you’re going to make it?
The fact is we were developing this business long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Second, we know that there’s a tremendous interest these days in buying locally produced food at a competitive price, with many people telling us that they can’t wait for the business to open. Third, we may very well have one of the best retail locations in Cornwall – downtown just across from City Hall and the Seaway Community Health Centre and just a block away from Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School. We’ve also invested in new state-of-the-art equipment and have a very good relationship with our landlord and co-building occupant, Exsellence Team Realty.
Question #4: What kinds of products will you be offering and how will you be different when someone comes into your store to shop for meat versus going to the supermarket meat counter?
We’ll be offering a vast range of beef, chicken and pork, cut just for you, our valued customer. If you don’t see something displayed or that catches your liking, we will accommodate you the best we can. Our open-concept butcher and kitchen area lets customers see how their meals are cooked or even how the meat is cut. Our customer service and home-like atmosphere are what sets us apart from our meat and prepared meal outlets. From the warm-coloured decor to the beautifully cut and prepared products, customers will feel right at home the instant they walk in the door. We’ll also be doing our best to support local sources for our meat and vegetables through in-town and other local suppliers. All our meat will be from Canadian farms with none from outside Canada, including from south of the border.
Question #5: When do you expect to open and what will be your business hours also what is your contact info?
We expect to open in mid-October. We’d originally planned for September but experienced a few delays due to the pandemic and other factors.
Our operating hours are Monday to Saturday, from 9 am to 6 pm, and closed on Sunday.
We are located at: 407 Pitt Street, Cornwall, Ontario
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 343-475-0185 (effective first or second week of October)
Visit on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joesqualitymeatshop
Bonus question: What would you say are the most popular cuts of meat in Cornwall?
Based on customer requests on our Facebook page, I would say that a few of the popular cuts here in Cornwall are beef brisket, T-bone steak and pork belly.
Thank you Joey for answering the Seeker’s 5 Questions (plus the Bonus) and we wish you and your family all the best in your new venture.