St Léon Gardens was started in 1979 in the town of St Léon, 150km southwest of Winnipeg. The original impetus behind the business was to serve as a youth entrepreneurial project with the objective of keeping the kids in town busy while teaching them the fundamental rules of running a small business. In 1989 the business was relocated to Winnipeg due to issues with irrigation. Now St Léon Gardens buys and sells from hundreds of local producers, which allows them to be open seven days a week. St Léon Gardens is different from a farmer’s market; they are really a seasonal grocery store with a focus on local goods and bedding plants.
St Léon Gardens is a bustling place, and thankfully, the ambiance of the market (the French music, the market feel and the bilingual staff) has not been impacted despite the changes required for COVID-19. They have been able to maintain their unique energy and the overall experience that is associated with shopping at St Léon Gardens. In fact, the extra physical distancing space required due to COVID-19 has actually enhanced the shopping experience because there is more space for people to move around! There were elements of their operations that required adaptation, such as the creation of a virtual store to support curb-side pick-up for example, but overall, the customer experience has not been negatively impacted. The team from St Léon Gardens has learned that adapting to COVID-19 requirements doesn’t mean your business needs to sacrifice its energy or uniqueness.