Altona's Hometown Heritage and Main Street Market are celebrating their first anniversary this weekend. The vintage collectibles and imported foods stores are located in the same building at 128 Main Street, with Tina and Aaron Schmidt owning Hometown Heritage, and Tina's parents Pete and Sara owning Main Street Market. The stores have quickly developed a dedicated following because of the unique items available.

"In terms of our side, Hometown Heritage, it was super important to display some of our local history," explained Tina. "I think Altona doesn't always do a great job of being proud of the businesses that have come and gone, and we wanted to showcase some of those things. We've had a love of vintage and collectibles for a really long time, so we thought, well, if other people do, too. Let's get together and share our love of those things."

As for Main Street Market, the grocery store is geared toward providing things in Altona that aren't readily available including a wide variety of Mexican, Mennonite and Filipino foods. 

"We have a lot of people who have to travel to Winnipeg or Winkler to get some of those staple ingredients, and it's easier to have it in Altona," said Schmidt. "It saves on gas, it saves on time, and if you can have it here, why not?"

The response from the community to both stores has been very positive.

"We have a lot of people who love the fact they can stay here in town, get something they need really quickly, and they don't have to make a special trip to Winnipeg to get those groceries for supper," she added. "We've reached even a wider community of collectors than we knew before who love coming in regularly and checking things out. It's been a really great experience."

And how cool has it been when someone comes into the store, and whether it's the vintage side or the food side, and they say, "I never thought I'd find that here!"

"It actually happens more often than you might think," Schmidt said with a smile on her face. "It's (the stores) kind of a nice little hidden away gem for people to find. We actually joked about it this summer that we should have put up a map of the world, and put pins in each of the different countries where we had people from. We had regular customers from Altona who had family come in, so we've had people from Australia, people from Europe came in a couple of times and do some shopping and I think we had somebody from Croatia, so it was really cool."

Tina Schmidt and her father Pete Friesen outside Hometown Heritage and Main Street Market

After a year in business, what has the family enjoyed the most about taking on this challenge and opportunity?

"I would say meeting new people, and getting to know what they like, getting to know what they're passionate about," shared Schmidt. "When it comes to food, the amount of things we've been able to try we would never have tried before has been very interesting. It's been a great way to meet new people, and make some new friends, which for me has been definitely the most positive."

Altona’s Hometown Heritage and Main Street Market are celebrating their first anniversary this weekend with a special collectibles show and sale at the Rhineland Pioneer Centre on Sunday, November 5th. Doors open at 10am, with 25 collectibles vendors and local makers expected. A hot meal will be available to buy with tamales, empanadas, curly fries and more.

You can listen to Tina Schmidt's conversation with CFAM Radio 950 Morning Show Co-Host Chris Sumner, below.

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