Alfie Seidl (left)

Alfie Seidl (left)

Community market takes root

A&E Community Market and Consignment Centre opened Aug. 15 in downtown Vernon

Their belief in community and growing a strong local economy is what drove Patty Patterson, Alfie Seidl and Domenic Stringile to invest in a local business.

They opened the A&E Community Market and Consignment Centre Aug. 15, across from Sir Winston’s Pub, and have already filled the 5,000-square-foot space with consignment women’s fashions, art, furnishings, antiques and freshly prepared food at Domenic’s Café and Bistro located inside the store.

Born and raised in Prince George, Patterson spent the last 20 years working in the financial industry as a financial adviser and branch manager, bouncing around B.C.

“A couple of things happened to me this year, as far as life-altering moments, I turned 50 and I lost my mom,” she said.

“So you just look at life and think there has to be more to it.”

With gentle encouragement from her partner Seidl, she decided to invest in her own dream.

“I thought I would try my own business and really scare myself,” said Patterson.

The couple combined their passions in their new business, with Patterson running the clothing side while Seidl works with artists and handles the furnishings.

Seidl, former president of the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce, has been an entrepreneur since the age of 18, buying his first company at 22-years-old.

“I’ve always liked helping people get into business and have said, ‘if you can’t find a job create one,’” said Seidl.

“Getting people into business is what the A&E stands for — artists and entrepreneurs.”

Seidl says the term starving artist doesn’t have to be true.

“Artists are very good at their craft but many of them don’t know about business,” said Seidl.

That‘s where he comes in. He helps with marketing and staging the art and offers advice on pricing.

“We strive to put unity back in community,” said Patterson.

“That’s why we call it a community market.”

Patterson’s sense of fashion has evolved over her years of working in the corporate world.

Now she enjoys helping women hone their style with the help of the consignment clothing, that offers many higher end options, for the professional woman.

If their customers need a break from shopping they are able to have a coffee or power-up with some food at Domenic’s Café and Bistro.

The bistro’s owner, Stringile, was motivated to take his love of food and turn it into a business after he lost his job as a health and safety adviser in the oil and gas industry after the Fort McMurray wildfire.

The new father is not a rookie in the small business scene.

Stringile’s mom Diana owns Casa Bella  Boutique on 30th Avenue and he worked in her shop after the fire.

“I’ve always had a passion for food and I want to be home, so I saw this as an opportunity to start a business in town,” said Stringile.

“With my mother having a business, I know if you work hard you can succeed at it.”

His food is freshly prepared and everything is local to show his support for his community.

He buys his bread from Okanagan Bakehouse, the vegetables from Armstrong farmers and the meat from a local butcher.

Stringile is also conscious of price and says he’s keeping the cost of his food affordable.

Knowing that small business owners often struggle to leave their shops during the day  Stringile has included a delivery option for downtown business so they can enjoy lunch without brown-bagging it.

His menu includes many lunch and light snack items, including coffee, smoothies, baked goods, soups and sandwiches.

“Without mom-and-pops and local business I think a city loses it sense,” said Seidl.

“Downtown Vernon has some wonderful people.”