Grocery options in Port Hardy have expanded as a new Filipino and Asian variety store officially opened its doors for business.
Owners Ted Wood and Julie Suyko, who is Filipino, said they have always been interested in starting a Filipino Store and last year they had the opportunity to purchased one in Duncan, after finding out the owner was closing down.
“In the Philippines, little stores are scattered around neighbourhoods called Sari Sari stores and I always found them fascinating,” said Wood, adding that soon after starting their Duncan store they were contacted by someone who asked if they could deliver products to Port Hardy.
“We started thinking if we could have a store here,” said Wood. “In the last four months, we have had a pop-up shop in Port Hardy once a month and they have been really successful. People have loved coming here, buying the product, and meeting us, and we love meeting them.”
Wood also noted that once they decided to open a store in Port Hardy, “Carol Dirom of the North Island Mall contacted us right away and said ‘hey I have got a space for you’, so she has built this space for us and provided a lot of support in us getting here.”
On July 10 the Port Hardy location became a reality as Wood and Suyko hosted a grand opening for FilCan Filipino-Asian Variety Store’s new location at their newly renovated space in the North Island Mall, which included a blessing by Catholic priest Father Dino.
FilCan offers a diverse range of grocery items and snacks including frozen products like fish, sausages, pork and chicken steamed buns, potstickers, and many popular Filipino treats. They also offer Halo Halo which is a popular Filipino dessert that includes a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk, sweet beans, coconut, fruits, and purple ice cream.
“We have a unique offering and everybody kept telling us that they would really love to see us here so we are excited about that,” said Wood.
They also offer other specific services for the Filipino community including Balikbayan boxes, which are cargo boxes that can be filled by Filipinos working in Canada with products they want to send home like clothing and food. “We also offer remittance services for the Philippines because Filipino workers like to send money home to their families, so we have those two services in the store as well,” said Wood.
While the store currently offers primarily Filipino foods they are looking to expand to other Asian foods, like Thai, Korean, or Japanese. “Our primary objective is we want to know what the community wants. We want to ask people ‘What do you like to see?’ What do you have a craving for?’ and we will bring that in,” said Wood.
“Our next goal is to have bubble tea here,” added Suyko, who explained they currently offer the tapioca pearls needed to make bubble tea, but they would like to have a bubble tea station in store.
“It’s exciting,” said Wood, adding “We are really hoping we are going to start seeing other people from the community and as we get the word out and learn that we are here”.
To learn more about what FilCan offers check them out at the North Island Mall or visit their website at www.filcan.store for more info.