UK importers find customers looking for companionship and solace after Queen’s death

“It’s a meeting place for expats to comfort each other a bit because – for the vast majority of people – the Queen was there our whole lives”

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Edmonton retailers specializing in British imports have found customers looking for more than just goods after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

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They are also looking for consolation, store representatives said.

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Shortly after the news broke on Thursday, people began gathering at Churchill’s British Imports on Gateway Boulevard and 81 Avenue to sympathize, owner Tony Badger told Postmedia.

“It’s been a hangout for expats to get some comfort because — for the vast majority of people — the Queen was there our whole lives,” Badger said. “It’s about comforting each other through a sense of community.”

Although the store mainly focuses on British groceries and sweets, many have entered the Edmonton store, as well as locations in Parksville, British Columbia and Saskatchewan, in search of royal memorabilia. , added Badger, but most were unlucky except for collectors in Saskatoon. store which picked up the few remaining pieces celebrating the Queen’s 96-year-old platinum jubilee this year.

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  1. Brian Lowes signs a condolence book for Queen Elizabeth II at the Alberta Legislative Assembly in Edmonton, Friday, September 9, 2022.

    Edmontonians pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II

  2. Queen Elizabeth II greets well-wishers during a walk past Edmonton City Hall on Wednesday, May 25, 2005.

    Alberta mourns and prepares for succession as Queen’s long association with Edmonton, province commemorated

After checking with his suppliers overseas, Badger learned that his sources had no souvenirs in stock. Items ordered in September 2021 for the Jubilee, which celebrated the Queen’s 70th anniversary on the throne, were dispatched the following March and flew off shelves in May and June, he said.

Although he checks with other suppliers, Badger expects an order to take at least a month to ship.

“People want to feel that connection somehow, so if we can source it, we’ll definitely bring it,” Badger said, adding that instead of souvenirs, some customers are looking for favorite jams instead. of the Queen.

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Employee Jay Willis adjusts a box of shortbread biscuits bearing the likeness of the Queen, at Churchill’s British Imports, 8116 Gateway Blvd., on Saturday September 10, 2022.

A box of shortbread biscuits bearing the image of the Queen can be seen at Churchill's British Imports, 8116 Gateway Blvd., on Saturday September 10, 2022.
A box of shortbread biscuits bearing the image of the Queen can be seen at Churchill’s British Imports, 8116 Gateway Blvd., on Saturday September 10, 2022. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

A former chef to Queen Elizabeth has claimed she is a fan of jam and prefers strawberry jam made from fruit picked at her Balmoral castle in Scotland. To celebrate the Jubilee, the Queen also appeared in a famous sketch alongside Paddington Bear, a fictional character from children’s literature, where the two shared tea and a taste of marmalade.

“We all try to connect in different ways,” added Badger.

Expats flock to the West Ed store

On the other side of town, collectors have also been looking for memorabilia at the newly opened British Pantry in the West Edmonton Mall, assistant manager Olivia English said, but the few items on display are for decoration, not for sale. .

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Like Badger, she found many expats flocking to the store – which also sells a range of British groceries, confectionery and gifts – in search of comfort food.

“They started missing more home, so they were looking for something to do with the UK, whether it was chocolate or crisps or even just little flags,” English said.

However, she added, many visitors to the store came just to talk.

“And then other customers would come in and join the conversation,” English said. “The mood improved a bit, but a lot of people were really sad.”
According to the British Pantry Canada Facebook page, the Edmonton venue, which opened in July, was due to celebrate a grand opening on Saturday, but the event has been postponed until further notice out of respect for the Queen and family. royal.

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— With files from the Associated Press

[email protected]

@hamdiissawi

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