Gift for Guy: “Merchants of happiness” for decades

Cadeaux chez Guy: «Marchands de bonheur» depuis des décennies

They have existed since decades, they are pampered by their community or have marked it throughout the years. Small businesses throughout the province of Quebec are the pride of their region. The Log shows you the portrait of some of them.

SHAWINIGAN | A biscuit become a game store that has a storefront in Shawinigan since the 1950s has survived the ages despite office moves and a fire that nearly put its future in danger.

“We are merchants of happiness”, says Joanne Prince, 67, a co-owner of the Gift shop at Guy with his partner, Serge Lajoie, 77 years of age.

“We would be due for retirement, but here, it’s a whole universe,’ continued the woman, smiling.

She has bought the old biscuit factory In Guy in 1983, a business that belonged to his father-in-law of that time, was named in honor of his eldest son. This shop was already part of the landscape shawiniganais for 30 years already. There were more biscuits in bulk at the time of the transaction, only educational games and gifts. Serge Lajoie joined it in 1993.

After two relocations in the heart of downtown Shawinigan, 35 years later, a fire caused$ 500,000 damage to the store. The fire originated in a container outside the 7th of June 2018, and the smoke came in through the window of the air conditioning and the ceilings.

The shop has been closed for six months, during which time Ms. Prince said to have received hundreds of emails of encouragement. A dozen volunteers even came to help to store equipment, to clean and to do a liquidation sale.

“There were a lot of people attached to the shop. This is where you see it,” says Ms. Prince.

She was not ready to retire, but all this support was even more convinced to roll up the sleeves.

The shop was able to open its doors again on 15 November 2018, in time for the Holidays.


Johanne Prince continues to develop the business, a year after the resumption of normal activities. In particular, it has invested in the launch of a first virtual store, in early September. The setting up of the site cost around$ 10,000, half of which was paid through a grant.

She believes that it is difficult for small businesses to start online shopping, be it only for the transportation costs that the customers are often not willing to pay. Not to mention the many updates needed to maintain this kind of website.

The patron saint of about a dozen employees had some uncertainties at first, but his worries are now dispelled.

“It’s going super well, especially since the 1st of December. We have regular orders”, she says indicating to have sometimes more than 800 online visitors in a single day.


The success of a game is sometimes difficult to predict, according to Ms. Prince. She remembers to have initially spent his tour on The osti of the game, five years ago. Except that the customers have demanded, which led to order.

To date, more than 640 units of this game were sold at the small store.

“People came to look and said to just “the game”, they didn’t want to say the word [osti]”, she says laughing.

According to it, the majority of the customers of his shop are increasingly seeking a special gift, rather than a price.

She has also kept the small gifts suitable for baptisms and first communions, which are now difficult to find.

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