New D and N confectionery opens in Little Current

Norm Abotossaway and Donna Foster celebrate the grand opening of their new confectionary and gift store. photo by Michael Erskine

LITTLE CURRENT—Donna Fortier and her partner Norman Abotossaway have opened a new confectionary/gift consignment store in Little Current. Located in the old Rolston offices on Worthington Street, the store represents a long held dream for the couple.

“I have always wanted to,” said Ms. Fortier when asked what led her to open the store with her partner. “I have been in retail business all my life. I was standing at a till from when I was five-years-old.”

That is hardly an exaggeration, as a five-year-old Ms. Fortier’s job in her parents’ store as a child was to gather the candy choices of her parents’ customers from the several thousands of choices available under the glass counter. “I was short,” she laughed, “and that was when you got several candies for a penny, so I was kept pretty busy.”

While D and N currently offers up only 15 varieties of penny candy it has plenty else on offer for those who need to pop by for a convenient product.

“We have farm fresh eggs and bread, we sell Catch the Ace tickets and a little grocery store with all the necessities,” she said. “Toiletries, shampoo, canned goods, pet food, bacon, butter, milk—if you find yourself out of something you need we probably have it.”

But that is only half the story.

On the other side of the store is a gift shop featuring a wide selection of locally-made crafts and gifts, including Native artisan work and jewellery, courtesy of many of Norm’s relatives in Aundeck Omni Kaning. “We try to carry local,” said Ms. Fortier, “and we buy and sell, do custom orders and consignments.”

One of the neat selections that might peak the interest of Island customers is a great selection of John Deere collectable toy tractors and other farm equipment—perfect for those young or old agriculturalists in your life.

A stroll through the store reveals a large number of Manitoulin themed items for sale. “They are all done locally,” said Ms. Fortier. “We like to keep it all local.”

Ms. Fortier and Mr. Abotossaway were holding court at their grand opening recently, complete with a free barbecue and face painting for the kids, welcoming their customers with their customary wide smiles.

Ms. Fortier said that she saw a need for a full service convenience store in downtown Little Current and took the leap of faith that her retail experience could make it work—and so far she has been proven right.

“It’s our local people who have really been supporting us,” she said. “Drop by and see what we have to offer, and if you don’t see something that you think we should stock, let us know.”

The same goes for the gift shop, she said. “For a lot of the Manitoulin themed products, if we don’t have it on hand we can have it in for you within 48 hours.”

One of the reasons that the couple decided to open the store is that they genuinely like people and the convenience store and gift shop offer up a lot of opportunities to meet new people and to connect with old friends.

The new store will be open from 10 am to 10 pm, Monday through Saturday, for now. “I am still thinking about Sundays,” admitted Ms. Fortier. “Right now it is just getting off the ground so there is only so much one person can do. Norm comes in and spells me off for a bit, and I have someone else who comes in to help now and then, but it is pretty much me for right now.”