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Brighton Clover Farm owners mark 5 decades of serving Charlottetown neighbours

Norman and Hind Sahely bought the store in January of 1974 after moving to Canada from Australia. (Submitted by Shadi Sahely - image credit)
Norman and Hind Sahely bought the store in January of 1974 after moving to Canada from Australia. (Submitted by Shadi Sahely - image credit)

A community hub in Charlottetown is celebrating a big milestone: Brighton Clover Farm has been running under one family for 50 years.

Shadi Sahely's parents, Norman and Hind, bought the store in January of 1974 after moving from Melbourne, Australia. Five years ago, their son took over the premises.

"It's a long 50 years, but it's been a very joyous 50 years," he told CBC News this week. "It's amazing. Time just flies. People have been good; they support us."

Sahely's mother and father moved to Prince Edward Island on Christmas Day of 1973.

"It was either this store or one in Oyster Bed Bridge, and Dad decided to purchase this store here from Ernie Lord and the rest is history. We have been here ever since then," he said.

The store sells a bit of everything — meat, snacks, Middle Eastern foods and olive oil — but it isn't just a place for people to buy food. It's a place of discussion and connection as well, Sahely said.

"People want that personal touch they enjoy, right? You know, you don't get too many more places anymore. And we recognize people by their names… and we try to treat them as family."

Sahely credits local customers for the family's success.

"I think that is why we are still open, because they do come by and we appreciate that so much and we couldn't do it without them. We are so thankful for them," he said.

"I've seen kids grow up and they have their own kids and those kids are coming here. You see all these generations of kids. They love coming here."

Shadi Sahely now runs Brighton Clover Farm along with his wife Josephine.
Shadi Sahely now runs Brighton Clover Farm along with his wife Josephine.

Shadi Sahely now runs Brighton Clover Farm along with his wife Josephine. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Customers dropping in at the shop on Thursday afternoon called the store a "pillar in the community."

"I think they're a wonderful family, to start with, and it's always great to have a small store in the neighbourhood, you know, so you can pick up a few things here and there," said John Vautour.

People want food and they need food. — Shadi Sahely

The store is open even in the worst weather conditions to keep the community supplied, Vautour said — even in the immediate aftermath of post-tropical storm Fiona in September 2022.

"They stayed open after the hurricane there, did as much as they could possibly do. So you know, we appreciate the effort they put in for that."

Sahely is matter-of-fact about staying open in bad times, saying: "People want food and they need food."

'They stayed open after the hurricane there, did as much as they could possibly do,' says John Vautour, a regular customer of Brighton Clover Farm.
'They stayed open after the hurricane there, did as much as they could possibly do,' says John Vautour, a regular customer of Brighton Clover Farm.

'They stayed open after the hurricane there, did as much as they could possibly do,' says John Vautour, a regular customer of Brighton Clover Farm. (Tony Davis/CBC)

The store was also open during the huge February 2004 blizzard dubbed "white Juan" because of how closely it followed on the heels of Hurricane Juan a few months earlier.

"There were ski poles outside in the snow banks and people drove their snowmobiles over here," Sahely recalled.

The only day the Sahely family takes off in the course of an average year is Christmas Day, he said.

Sahely says he hopes to still be working at Brighton Clover Farm by the time the family's 75th anniversary comes around, 25 years from now.
Sahely says he hopes to still be working at Brighton Clover Farm by the time the family's 75th anniversary comes around, 25 years from now.

Sahely says he hopes to still be working at Brighton Clover Farm by the time the family's 75th anniversary comes around, 25 years from now. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Three generations of the Sahely family have worked at the store, including Sahely's kids.

"All three of them have worked here," he said of his children. "I couldn't have done it without them… Three generations so far; we'll see what happens for the next generation."

As for Sahely himself, he said he hopes to still be working by the time the 75th anniversary comes around.