The Brasse-Camarade, the corner store with heart

Published on July 4 2019

“We’re definitely not your average corner store. People come here for the first time and say, ‘Hey, you’re not a real dépanneur!’ And they’re right—we’re way better than a real dépanneur! That’s what sets us apart,” says Véronique Filion, co-owner of the Brasse-Camarade. Her partner Frédéric Joly agrees. In just six years, the store has become a fixture in the Petite-Nation.

THE BRASSE-CAMARADE, A WELCOMING SPOT

A few tables set up near the cash where people can enjoy a bite to eat, panini, fresh coffee, pastries, and most important, an outstanding selection of craft beers and local products: that’s the winning combination that makes the Brasse-Camarade a gathering place for the residents of Saint-André-Avellin and the surrounding area.

“We were sure it would succeed. There was a lot of buzz around microbrewery beers. The financial institutions told us, ‘You’re out of your minds, it will never work.’ Well, if they won’t help us, we’ll do it ourselves! And we did, and we’re really pleased with how it’s turned out.”

THE STORY OF A SPECIAL CORNER STORE

When Véronique met Frédéric, she introduced him to local food products, and he got her to try the local beers. These romantic tastings planted an idea in Véronique’s mind. “I said to myself, we have to introduce these products to the local population! I’d always wanted to own a business, and when I met Fred, I thought, OK, this is what I want to do!” She quit her job in administration, and he quit his as a security guard.

The couple’s work schedule is gruelling: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day (except Sunday, when they get to sleep in … until 9 a.m.). Retail is a tough business where you’re always struggling to find help. For these two self-taught entrepreneurs who complete each other, the game is worth the candle. No regrets!

BEER, THE GREAT EQUALIZER OF SAINT-ANDRÉ-AVELLIN

How does Frédéric choose which beers to stock? “There are so many microbreweries in Quebec and elsewhere, I pick the best of everything! The best pale ale from one brewery, the best dark beer from another … then we taste them! We like to educate our customers. Our clientele is very diverse, and we offer a personalized approach you won’t get in a supermarket. Obviously, it allows us to develop strong connections with our customers, to the point that some of them have become friends, “explains Frédéric. “We’re part of the family,” adds Véronique.”That’s why we do it.”

Drop by around 2 p.m. to fully appreciate the Brasse-Camarade’s warm atmosphere: the place is packed, and folks are chatting up a storm. “We even know a married couple who met here!” says Véronique.

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