Oonnie Aims to Connect Consumers with Local Producers
Oonnie, a website that aims to assist consumers who are looking for more convenient ways to shop locally, is set to officially launch on June 25, bringing to life the vision of a Métis entrepreneur who has spent the past 13 years in the commercial construction business.
Matos grew up in rural Alberta on a small cattle farm but eventually ended up relocating to the Edmonton area. During the pandemic, faced with empty shelves at grocery stores, she was reminded of her roots of sourcing food more directly, but she realized she had been away from farms for 20 years, and no longer had those connections with producers. Farmers’ markets also weren’t ideal for Matos based on their limited operation times. She saw this gap as an opportunity to create a portal to bridge consumers with local producers.
The name Oonnie was the result of bingeing Korean dramas during the pandemic. “Unnie” is Korean for “older sister,” which describes the role she believes she will play for many of the entrepreneurs she is onboarding onto her platform.
“I have so many skills, having founded and run a successful business,” said Matos. “So it will be like having an older sister to help guide you.”
Matos has been working with Courtney Hanak, Oonnie’s business manager and owner of William Rae Designs, on building up the number of vendors on the site. So far, they’ve signed on over 20 merchants, including beef and honey producers, as well as established brands such as Confetti Sweets and Roasti Coffee. But Matos intends to broaden the directory even further.
“We’re hoping to have everything,” said Matos. “Our goal is to cover every food department that you would find in a traditional grocery store. I want to have a lot of different cultural foods.”
Matos has heard from conversations with immigrant women in particular that they have found it challenging to break into the market. “It’s so hard if you don’t have something established already,” Matos said. “The hope with this is that people could start from home, and within a day they could have an online presence.”
Matos also sees Oonnie as a way to promote Indigenous-owned businesses. “There’s a huge divide between Indigenous communities and people in urban centres, and COVID created a bigger divide,” she said. “What if people could live on reserve and notify people about when they are coming to town again with their products?”
Matos is aware of other similar sites that have sprung up in recent years, such as Good Goods, Uproot Food Collective, or The Public Food Hub, but she believes the demand can support all of these initiatives.
“We’re about community over competition,” said Matos. “There are many huge grocery stores, so there is room for many.”
The first 100 vendors who sign up on Oonnie will only pay for the credit card processing fees for the first year; vendors who join after this initial group should expect to pay a 12% fee on sales made. Matos is also planning learning sessions for vendors on topics such as Alberta Health Services standards, permitting, and packaging options, to ensure the businesses are set up for success.
Oonnie’s model is similar to Etsy, in that each vendor is responsible for delivering their own products. Matos has arranged with some local small businesses to act as pick-up points, but it is up to each individual vendor to list different fulfillment options.
“You’re dealing directly with that producer through our site,” said Matos. “It’s going from an oven to you – it’s not sitting in a warehouse for a long time.”
Oonnie’s June 25 launch coincides with a scavenger hunt in the Sherwood Park area. Participants will have the chance to win prizes, while all proceeds from food and drinks served at the event will benefit the Strathcona Food Bank.
- RGE RD’s long-awaited Downtown pop-up, RGE RD LARDER, is now open as a part of the Vignettes Brick and Mortar Festival. They will be open Thursdays to Saturdays from 4:30-10pm at 10043 108 Street for walk-ins until mid-July and possibly longer. A sample menu is here.
- Antonio Bilotta, of Da Capo and Al Centro fame, will be opening up Bar Oro Roastery downtown at 106 Street and Jasper Avenue.
- Northern Chicken will be opening up a second location downtown.
- Hummus bar Vish is now open at 10326 124 Street. It is the first Canadian location for the franchise.
- Basil Pasta Bar’s second Edmonton location is now open at #80, 10014 104 Street.
- Small batch ice cream maker called Twice Cream will be opening soon at 10983 127 Street.
- SoDo downtown launched a concept called Sammies by SoDo.
- Century Hospitality Group has taken over the concession at ReMax field.
- Vegan fast food chain Odd Burger will be opening a location in Edmonton.
- Noodle Bar by Nomiya is closing on June 26, 2022 because the owner’s family’s dad is retiring.
- Say Uncle is closing the first week of July.
- Al Fresco on 104 returns June 25 – August 27, 2022 and will feature outdoor vendors, extended patios, and other festivities.
- Campio’s outdoor Summer Markets are back once a month until September. They had to postpone their kick-off date due to weather, but mark your calendars for the other events.
- Great to see that the patio at Fu’s Repair Shop is now open!
- The Nook is taking a few months off to “rest, recoup, and regroup”.
- Last week’s Best Dish column highlights Mama Asha.
- Cafe Bel-Air is the first establishment to offer Mauritian food in Alberta.
- Edify stops by Birch + Bear Pizza, Swiss 2 Go, and Spring Roll Kitchen.
- Modern Luxuria spotlights Buco Pizzeria + Vino Bar in their latest issue.
- Happy first birthday to Awn Kitchen!
- The Backyard also commemorated their first birthday over the weekend.
- Congratulations to Sugared and Spiced on reaching their tenth milestone.
- Sofra celebrated their sweet sixteen birthday.
- Some businesses, including Ayco Cafe and Brew and Bloom, are using Instagrammable features to as a means of increasing traffic.
- Local chefs Brad Lazarenko, Shane Chartrand, and Scott Iserhoff were listed on Cottage Life’s 11 Indigenous chefs causing a stir.
- Jacek Chocolate Couture was featured in Canada Post’s E-Commerce Insider on how they adapted to consumer requests.
- Edmonton-based butcher Elyse Chatterton was the guest on the Eat More Barbecue podcast last week.
- Restaurants are affected by the high cost of inflation, including Transit Smokehouse & BBQ.
- John Williams of Blue Plate Diner will be departing the business to begin a role with the Italian Centre.
- The fifth edition of the Edmonton Filipino Fiesta took place at Borden Park this past weekend after a two year break.
- Jason Foster covers how Alberta breweries fared in this year’s Canadian Brewing Awards.
- Edify profiled Detention Brewing, located in a decommissioned school in Rosalind.
Urban Agriculture and Farming
- Health Canada is proposing that ground beef and pork will have front-of-package nutrition labelling, joining products high in sodium, sugar, and saturated fat.
What I Ate
- We were away in Jasper last week, and enjoyed many of our meals outdoors. As I’ve mentioned during previous staycations, we always use it as an opportunity to try out different meal kits (something I do hope sticks around even as the pandemic fades). We tried the frozen Alberta Donair kits on this trip, and found them to be quite satisfying! We added our own vegetables, but there was definitely enough meat and sweet sauce to go around!
Alberta Donair with a view
- We did make an exception to have lunch at Sunhouse Cafe. The mascarpone French toast was such a treat (I loved their citrus curd), and was even better enjoyed on their sunny second floor patio.
Mascarpone French toast from Sunhouse Cafe in Jasper
- Mack, Emily, and I returned to Langano Skies for one last meal before their closure, and was graciously and unexpected hosted by Amsale and Paul. We loved the lunch combination platters (Emily particularly enjoyed the siga tibs, and Mack and I were partial to the ater kik aletcha wot). The couple will be announcing their future plans later this summer, so stay tuned!
Combination platters from Langano Skies
Too Good to Go box from Ayco Cafe
- Over the weekend, we visited some of our favourite businesses in Chinatown, and used it as an excuse to grab take-out from Gui Lin Noodle House. Their fried instant noodles with minced pork is hard to beat.
Fried macaroni and instant noodles from Gui Lin Noodle House
- We also walked over to the 124 Street Market for the first time this season, and grabbed lunch from one of our favourite food trucks, Coast Lunch Box.
Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich from Coast Lunch Box