Whether Meredith Salvian Creighton found Perth or it found her is a matter of some conjecture.
Born in Burlington, Meredith was the oldest of six children. As chance would have it, her family lived just a block away from the Mahaffy family whose daughter Leslie would be the tragic victim of serial killer Paul Bernado.
“When that happened my father, who was a policeman in Hamilton, said that’s it were moving and we ended up in Port Dover. It was there that I grew up,” Meredith recalls.
Eventually, she found herself working in the periodontal industry in Ottawa as an executive consultant.
“I worked with the patients as a treatment coordinator” she explains. “I’d meet with the clients and establish their needs and then coordinate the proper course of treatment with the dentist.”
At the same time her husband Mark was in new home sales.
By 2014, the couple made the decision to move to a smaller community to raise their family. Meredith had 2 children by a previous marriage, a son James and a daughter Alison, a special needs child.
“As Alison got older and we learned more about her specific disability, we became concerned about her education and the support she would need,” says Meredith. “We knew she was going to need a lot of help and weren’t convinced she would get in a large city high school. So we began to look around.”
Thinking back Meredith recalls coming through Perth ten years ago and sitting on the bench in front of the Toronto Dominion Bank. She remembers thinking at the time that this would be a good place to live.
Little did she know that one day she would own a cheese shop located right behind that very same bank.
Impressed by what they saw in Perth, Meredith and Mark and moved their family here in 2014.
“It was the best decision,” she says. “We had no intention of opening a shop, but often recalled our past visits to various cheese shops in places like Pert Dover and Georgetown. We wondered if one would succeed in Perth.”
Convinced that it would, Meredith and Mark opened their shop in a converted mill in July 2018.
“We knew from the beginning we’d need to sell more than just cheese, so we stocked things such as crackers, olives and mustards, as well as chocolates.”
In the upstairs of the shop, Meredith sells accoutrements such as gift baskets and chacuterie boards many made by a local craftsman.
From the beginning Meredith tried to source her products locally and says that as much as 70% of her products are local, including chocolate from Hummingbird Chocolate in Almonte and maple syrup from the Farrell’s in Stanleyville.
To date two of her biggest sellers have been a sheep’s milk brie and a highland blue cheese, both made by the Back Forty Cheese Company in Mississippi Station.
Ultimately whether a product is local or not is not what determines if it makes it into her shop.
“It’s not good enough that it’s local,” says Meredith. “It also has to be of a high quality. We test and taste everything we stock.”
From the beginning, Meredith was busy.
“People love local,” she muses.
Then Covid hit and things got quiet.
“We modified our hours. We began to offer free delivery. We made adjustments in our product line,” explains Meredith for whom a fine charcuterie had always been an excellent way to bring family and friends together.
But the pandemic changed that.
When one customer suggested that rather than one large charcuterie board, she’d be interested in smaller individual sizes so everyone wasn’t eating off the same board, it was a suggestion Meredith followed up on.
Looking back Meredith and Mark are pleased with the decision they made.
“The community has been incredible,” says Meredith who explains that their daughter Alison has found just the kind of support she needed.
“She’s the happiest, friendliest girl you’ll ever meet,” says Meredith. “She has taught us all how to stay positive.”
And that’s a valuable lesson when you own a business in the middle of a pandemic.