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Behind the Storefront: Jessie Wionzek of Doki Doki in Downtown Belleville


Jessie Wionzek of Doki Doki

Jessie Wionzek and Lindsay Dransfield own Doki Doki in the Belleville Downtown District, a specialty store that focuses on hard-to-find Japanese, Korean and Chinese items such as anime collectibles, plushies, snacks and cosplay supplies. I recently caught up with Jessie to learn more about the business and what it’s like owning a store in downtown Belleville.

Interview by Kaya Pereira

Read time: 2 min
Where are you from?
I’ve moved around a lot! I grew up in a small town called Listowel (the creator of Letterkenny went to my high school), then moved to Kitchener, then Toronto, then to Belleville. So far, Belleville is my favourite: not too big, not too small, with beautiful weather and lovely people.

What were you doing before you started a business downtown?
Originally I moved to Belleville to work as a children’s librarian at the Belleville Public Library. After a couple of years I decided to try something different and experimented with a few different business ideas, such as selling jewelry on Etsy. After visiting Japan for the first time in 2019, I decided to try importing Japanese items such as anime figures and plushies and selling them out of my house via Facebook Marketplace, eBay and the like. One thing led to another and, in August 2022, we opened our first physical location!
Tell us a bit about your business.
Doki Doki specializes in importing hard-to-find Japanese, Korean and Chinese items such as anime collectibles, plushies, snacks, and much more! We also carry a wide selection of wigs and cosplay supplies, trading card game products such as Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, jewelry & enamel pins, and much more. Aside from our wide array of products, we’re also passionate about educating others on the intricacies of Japanese culture, from anime fandom to traditional clothing such as kimono to the Japanese language itself.
What’s something about you that we would never know?
I mentioned it earlier, but I’m a former librarian! I actually have a Master’s Degree in Information Studies front he University of Toronto. For a while my dream was to work in a media archive or similar institution – but running Doki Doki is way more fun! My library background often comes in handy when I’m looking up special requests for customers or tracking down rare items from lesser-known anime series and video games.
What’s your vision of a thriving downtown Belleville?
I would love to see every building fully tenanted, with unique shops on the ground floor and happy tenants living above them. There’s a vibrant community that already exists downtown; we’re just a little spread out. I truly believe that once we get all the empty spots filled up again, we’ll have the kind of downtown all cities dream of: both economically and socially successful. We all have to pitch in to bring this dream to life – success is hard work! At Doki Doki, we do our part by making sure we’re open as often as possible (seven days a week, from 10 am to 7 pm most days) and by providing a fun and welcoming atmosphere to everyone who visits the shop. We hope that our success will encourage other downtown businesses to consider extending their hours of operation (we would love some Sunday neighbours). We’re always happy to talk to those with a vested interest in our downtown. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats!

Photo: Author Kaya Pereira (left) and Doki Doki owner Jessie Wionzek (right)


Kaya Pereira is a local artist and owner of Bazaar Artisan Market in the Belleville Downtown District. Bazaar provides a space for local artisans to sell products like jewellery, art, pottery, soaps and decor. Follow Bazaar on Instagram or Facebook to see what’s new in the shop.

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