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Local couple's 'passion project' part of plan to re-invigorate Craigleith

The Sohals showcase loved and local Canadian brands at their new clothing and gift store in Craigleith

It is with pleasure and a passion for quality made products that Chelsea and Parm Sohal officially opened the doors to the Craigleith Trading Post this month


The Sohals, who also own the gas station next door, have a dream to revamp Craigleith Village. Their most recent endeavour showcases a carefully curated collection of Canadian clothing and goods in the tiny but cozy shop on Highway 26.


The couple has been coming to the area for almost two decades and made the move to Collingwood from Orangeville a few years ago. Parm says he’s witnessed Craigleith go from a pretty popular destination to a ghost town, but he’s always seen the potential.


“We’re very entrepreneurial. We want to build up the community bit by bit so we can grow along with it,” said Parm. “There is so much potential in this area, especially with the recent development.”


When the Sohals took over the gas station three years ago, there wasn’t much else around. They set out to spruce up the convenience store and brought in Amy’s Espresso Bar & Cakery next door. Slowly they’ve seen a resurgence of clientele.


Chelsea and Parm have become familiar with the locals through quick discussions at the gas station. They’ve also witnessed numerous tourists pass through, hoping to find a small gift or souvenir without having to head all the way into town.


“We really think of Craigleith and Collingwood as the ultimate Canadian towns. There is no place like us — somewhere that has the abundance of activities that we do — and we think it’s a perfect place to showcase some of these products,” said Parm.


Parm has always had a passion for quality clothing and said he and Chelsea were never afraid to spend a few extra bucks for something high-quality or that supports local business.


The couple has been together for 13 years, and it has always been a “pipe dream” of theirs to open a shop together.


“It’s amazing. Now that opening day is here, we are just really proud,” said Chelsea.


“This has been a big passion project for us,” Parm added. “We aren’t trying to make a ton of money off this, it’s just showcasing what we love.”


From the soap bars and candles to the art and clothing, everything in the store is handpicked by either Chelsea or Parm. They worked with a lot of local entrepreneurs to give their shop an extra special feel, using a wood table from Georgian Bay Woodworking to display some of their inventory and working with GnR Unlimited to create their own apparel.


The rest of their selection comes from entrepreneurs both down the road and across Canada, with one American brand, because the product was “so suited for the lifestyle here” that they had to carry it.


The shop is small, but Parm said you don’t need much as long as you have an entrepreneurial spirit.


“It’s been cool for us to see that, even with something small like this, you can still make something out of it,” he said. Parm and Chelsea also credit their community for the exceptional level of support so far.


“We have been so well received by the community. Locals like to shop local. While we cater to tourists as well, our biggest sales have been to locals,” said Chelsea.


The couple currently doesn’t offer sales through their website because they want to encourage people to come in and check out the shop in person.


“In the gas station, people are in and out pretty quick. But in here, they stay and chat,” said Parm.


Chelsea agrees: “You get to know people on a personal level. I want you to come into the store because I want you to have the full experience. I want to teach you about the different brands we work with and tell their stories.”


Chelsea and Parm have hopes of expanding in the future, but for now, they are enjoying working with brand representatives and building relationships with other entrepreneurs, both locally and across Canada.

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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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