Leeds Grenville
Economic Development eNews | August 29, 2017
Business Profile
Chaiya has big-city success in small village 
MERRICKVILLE  - Rookie small business owners Lisa and Carlos Card were hoping for a gradual rise in sales. What they didn't anticipate was a struggle to keep up with demand.

The couple behind Chaiya Decor in Merrickville thought it might take a while for their furniture import business to take off. Some people cautioned their business concept, including selling large imported pieces and furniture, had no chance of survival in a small eastern Ontario village. The naysayers were wrong. In just two years, the Cards are looking to expand into Kemptville and already have a second warehouse location in Merrickville.

"It doesn't seem to matter where we are, it's what we're selling that is key," says Carlos. "It took us by surprise to sell these big beautiful pieces. What we've found is people are willing to travel here to find them."

Their shop on St. Lawrence Street is housed in a circa 1827 stone home with just as much character as the items under its roof. You'll find a wide range of one-of-a-kind pieces from far-off places where the couple has travelled, including Indonesia. 

"We are focused on only buying sustainable products, and generally from the person or families who made them," says Lisa. "We spend a lot of time in the field. Many are small, family-owned businesses like us."

Carlos and Lisa were both in the zoo field when they met 12 years ago in New Orleans. He was a conservation biologist in the U.S. and she was a veteran zookeeper at the Toronto Zoo. They settled in Toronto but Lisa had the idea of starting a little import shop - a retirement hobby. The next thing they knew they were buying a property in downtown Merrickville.

They were quick out of the gate but soon realized they had a supply issue. In May 2016, they brought in a full container of products thinking it would sustain them throughout the busy summer season. They sold out in a month. Another large shipment was brought in that August. Once again, they sold out. After those experiences, they began doubling orders. 

"The business is well beyond our expectations. Neither of us ever imagined we'd be selling this much product," Carlos says. They do a large number of deliveries to Gatineau, Orleans and Ottawa. Many regular Brockville and Perth area customers visit the shop. Later in September, Chaiya furniture and decor will be featured on the Ottawa Fall Home Show celebrity stage. 

"We just keep scaling up and up," says Carlos. Lisa has a knack for picking out items that will sell, an aesthetic intuition. Carlos is the numbers guy. Also on board is sales manager Andrew Fielding, who grew up in the Brockville area. 

Learn more by visiting their Facebook page and check out their travel blog. A website is in development. Give them a call at 613-269-4242 and take a drive to their Merrickville location today.
Top feature photo: Lisa and Carlos Card are seated at an Indian Rosewood dining table in a natural finish. A signature driftwood horse, at top, sold this week so a new driftwood piece will appear soon.

Above: The Merrickville storefront at 323 St. Lawrence Street. 


Nominate an economic development leader
Nominations for the 2017 Bill Thake Memorial Award for Economic Development Leadership are now being accepted.

Also called the Warden's Award, it recognizes a volunteer who has shown outstanding commitment and leadership resulting in the growth and vitality of the Leeds Grenville economy within the 10 member municipalities. It is presented at the annual Leeds Grenville Economic Development Summit on Friday, November 17.

An overview of the award and the nomination form are online on our Summit 2017 page. 

DEADLINE: Friday, September 29, 2017

Please connect with us at econdev@uclg.on.ca or call Deanna Clark at 613-342-3840, ext. 5360.
Community Event
Invitation to Giant Tiger Johnstown Community Day
Visit Giant Tiger's 600-000-square-foot distribution centre set to officially open in 2018. Activities include a  Kids' Zone, Touch a Truck, Charity BBQ and a sneak peak of the new state-of-the-art facility.

WHEN: Saturday, September 30, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: 1 Giant Tiger Boulevard, Johnstown.
COST: Free, including a Charity BBQ

EMPLOYMENT: Visit Giant Tiger's Careers Site on their  website or you can send your resume directly to GTWCareers@GiantTiger.com.
New recognition awards launched by OMAFRA
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has started a new program called the Rural Ontario Leaders Awards.

Awards will be presented in each of the following streams:
  • Individual Awards (25 years of age and older)
  • Individual Youth (24 years of age and younger)
  • Community (Municipality or Indigenous community)
  • Business
  • Not-for-profit/non-government organization
Rural residents, communities, businesses and organizations are eligible to apply for an award, and can self-nominate or be submitted on behalf of an individual or group through the application process.
Deadline: October 11, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. 
Learn more by visiting the OMAFRA website Rural Ontario Leaders Awards page.

Workshops and Seminars
Symposium for key players of the bio-economy of Eastern Ontario

There is still time to register for the "Building a Sustainable Chemistry Alliance with Bio-industrial and Bio-refining Enterprise in Eastern Ontario" event and networking luncheon this week. It will feature a keynote address by Sandy Marshall, executive director of Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC). Statements of response will be invited from area industries, governments, academic partners, economic developers, networks and entrepreneurs.

WHEN: Thursday, August 31, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  
WHERE: Maitland Education and Recreation Centre (MERC), 120 East MacLean Blvd, Maitland
COST: Free

Learn more about this on our Workshops and Seminars page. RSVP to sslawn@ripnet.com or rmorrison@augusta.ca
Workshops and Seminars