Boutique Le Local: A true local treasure

Clothes nowadays rarely have Made in Canada printed on the label. Marie-France Roy and Marc Gagné, owners of Boutique Le Local on Eddy Street, are working hard to change this reality. In this historic working-class neighbourhood, Roy and Gagné “provide a place de chez nous, suggesting quality and originality,” said Roy. It’s also an exclusive shop “allowing you to associate products with someone specific.”

Only a few minutes drive from downtown Ottawa, this adorable boutique offers clothing, jewellery, baby-accessories and pottery from Canadian artists and designers. In fact, 100 per cent of the products on display are proudly Canadian made.

The owners established their store in the heart of Le Vieux-Hull in a quest “to revitalize the area,” usually seen in a negative light. At first, the City of Gatineau was reluctant to give them the green light. City officials told them to wait after Gatineau completed the restoration program. However, Gagné and Roy persisted and have since celebrated their first-year anniversary on September 14. “Now the City has seen we are serious and hard-working, they are much more helpful,” said Gagné, graduate of Concordia University Fine Arts program. Support from the City was not their only challenge.

The biggest défi for Le Local was to secure a locale! “Finding a well-kept place downtown was a real headache,” said Roy, “many buildings on Eddy are residential while others are in a dire state.” It was essential to find an abode for the locally handmade creations, “it’s all about, location, location, location,” said Gagné.

Once settled in at 140 Eddy Street, the painter Gagné and the jeweller Roy began setting up this distinct boutique. The 32-year-old owners felt the need to offer an alternative to big store chains, “we wanted to propose something representing our values and our local culture, the place where we and many of the artists are from,” said Gagné. They also felt the need to have a space for artisans to display their wonderful conceptions in l’Outaouais.

As a result, items you come across when browsing the boutique are mostly from the region and are recycled items. Like a Phoenix, hatched out creations re-emerge as stylish fashionable items perched on the racks. There are also beautiful handmade creations like bracelets, scarves and great gift ideas nested within the wooden cabinets. Regardless of the direction you go within the fashion niche, you will hawk something out. There is much to discover, like the many ethical fashion companies such as Encantados, Dugraff and Soldes. Prices for their dresses range from $70 to $200, while handmade feather earrings cost about $30. Those are only a few of the flock of products they offer, and as Gagné said “if you offer a great product people will come.”

Indeed customers are visiting and it’s surprising to hear Saturday, is Le Local’s busiest day in an area teeming with civil servants. In a few years they might even welcome a bigger clientele if they have their way, “we want to set up workshops to include the client in creating the work of art,” said Roy. Another goal is to change the mentality about the region, “contrary to popular beliefs, l’Outaouais isn’t boring,” said Roy. As for those interested in local entrepreneurship, both owners strongly encourage them, “go for it! There’s plenty of space and opportunities to be had here.”