Nestled in Carrying Place on the border of Quinte West and Prince Edward County, you’ll find The County Emporium. Housed in the old Carrying Place Church, a once-forgotten building has been transformed into a beautiful boutique retail space (and a terrific online shop, if I do say so myself).
The County Emporium has a lot to offer; from men’s and women’s clothing, health and beauty products, baby accessories and a wide variety of outdoors products. They’re fully licensed, selling craft beer and local wine which you can enjoy on their patio or picnic tables on the lawn. Or you can pop by mid-day for a coffee fix, baked goods and sandwiches. But what makes The County Emporium stand out isn’t just the services provided, but the people who provide them.
Davelynn and Kate are the proud owners of The County Emporium and they’ve put their hearts and souls into creating this business. They first opened their doors on July 1, 2020, and since then they’ve added, subtracted and adapted to fit their customers’ needs, carving out a niche in Quinte West.
“I think that we’ve grown so much and the community response has been so amazing. We’re less the tourist crowd and more the locals. We obviously want the tourist crowd, but we really want to fill that hole in the community. Everything we do has changed with what the community needs,” Davelynn said.
The duo had originally planned to offer specialty foods, but have adapted their offering based on community demand, including a variety of body-positive clothes for women and pregnant women seeking high-quality baby items. “We’ve tried a lot of different things because it’s our place and we can try as many things as we want until we get it right,” shared Davelynn.
Davelynn and Kate both come from military backgrounds, and met while posted at CFB Trenton. Both women had come to a point in their lives where they needed a change, and Davelynn says the idea was born after discussing their dream jobs.
“I was not looking forward to going back to work after my maternity leave. I had a lot of anxiety about it. And Kate was like a high school guidance counsellor asking me, ‘What do you really want to do with your life?’ And I don’t know if I had ever had someone ask me that. So after discussing it, we both realized what we wanted was to start our own business, and that’s when we started planning The County Emporium.”
Both Davelynn and Kate have young families and wanted to create a space where parents could bring their children and feel comfortable knowing they could have a positive, no-pressure experience.
“That’s the kind of business that we want to be… that we want to raise our kids in. We want this to be a place where you can come with your kids after school and have snacks, and you’re comfortable that they can be here because it’s a good environment for them. It’s also a good environment for you to come to hang out after work, a place where you can sit down, have a beer and unwind. That’s what I would have wanted, and I’ve never found it, so that’s what we wanted to create here,” Davelynn said.
While no one has a crystal ball, the future is bright for the County Emporium. They’re expanding their online presence to weather the COVID-19 pandemic; listening to their customers to create a retail space that offers many sustainably-made products at accessible price points; and making plans to offer more food and beverage options. But what it always comes down to is location, location, location — and Davelynn and Kate feel that Quinte West, specifically Carrying Place, is the perfect place to be.
“We’re both originally from Halifax, and we’ve lived from coast to coast in Canada with our military careers, but I’ve never loved an area like I’ve loved it here. We have all the amenities that [we] could need or want, but it’s still got such a small town, welcoming vibe. And we think Carrying Place is so lovely. We feel this business had to be specifically here in Carrying Place, it wouldn’t have worked anywhere else. What we wanted to build had to be in this location,” Davelynn said.
You can find the County Emporium at 2522 County Rd 64, Carrying Place, Quinte West, and follow them on Instagram @thecountyemporium for more information.