Article from the March 2023 issue of Neighbours of Manotick Magazine:
A Sweet Surprise in Manotick: Meet Christine McGahey
This month recognizes International Women’s Day (IWD). Among other things, March 8 is a day to celebrate the achievement of women and this year’s IWD theme is about embracing equity.
Meet your neighbour and Manotick’s newest shop owner, Christine McGahey and her two daughters. Christine grew up in Ottawa, then moved to Toronto for school and to start her career in event marketing “I worked for iconic national brands and loved being able to provide experiences and to create memories,” she said.
Christine’s husband Travis is also from the Ottawa area, but the two met when she was living in Toronto. “After we got married and had the girls, we wanted to get them away from the busyness of downtown Toronto, and to move closer to their grandparents here in Ottawa,” said Christine. Manotick was exactly what they were looking for. The village is the epitome of small town living with big town amenities and it has a strong community base that really appealed to this young family.
As a mom, Christine has enjoyed being involved in Girl Guides and in school events. “They both go to dance class, gymnastics and take piano lessons. We have two guinea pigs, Frank and Hank who we adopted at the Pet Valu, and we love local events like Dickinson Days,” she said. When it came time for Christine to consider where to set up her business, she knew without hesitation that it had to be here in Manotick.
When she came up with the idea for her store, Lollies and Scoops, she wanted to rekindle happy memories for her customers and to help people to create new ones. “I wanted the shop to be an oasis of joy and to elicit gasps of delight as people peruse the shelves and come across treasures both old and new.”
With a background in creating experiences for people, Christine knew that this was going to be about more than candy. “Yes, we have a plethora of sweets. But our greeting cards are selected because they also provide water purification tablets to someone in need. We have chocolates made in Nova Scotia by a Syrian family whose first chocolate business was bombed in the war. All of our plush toys are produced from recycled plastics,” said Christine. “It’s really important to me that I provide my customers with the nostalgia that old, familiar things can provide, while at the same time opening them up to new things. To that end, along with the old favourites, I also have a robust international selection. I’m also very proud that I offer quality vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free options, too.”
She also wanted to create an environment for her kids that passed along the same values of her childhood. “I have very fond memories of growing up in my mother’s restaurant and helping out there. I want the same experience for my two girls,” said Christine. “Setting things up and getting ready for our grand opening in February was really a family affair. My in-laws were such a big help. Travis assembled all of the fixtures and took care of everything technological, and even the girls helped out with some things. As they get older, it’s my hope that they will see this as a family business and not just ‘Mom’s business’,” she said.
When asked why she decided to open this store, Christine paused and thought for a minute. “You know, the basic 9-5, Monday to Friday has never appealed to me. I also want to do something that brings joy to people. There is so much darkness and negativity in this world, and I want to alleviate that in some small way. Candy usually brings people joy. Happy memories and nostalgia brings them joy. A sweets shop/gift shop seemed to just be the best way for me to bring happiness to not only myself and my family, but also to my community and to other people. I really love to see customers smiling and their surprise as they see things in the shop.”
It’s evident that family and community are very important to Christine and that she is intent on finding the positive in everything she encounters. The family motto is, ‘Make the most of things’ and her own personal motto is, ‘Be sweet to yourself and others’. It’s amazing what a piece of candy and a warm smile can do to brighten your day.
Article by Suson Clark, Photo by Valerie Van Haren