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Montreal teenager opens store specializing in COVID-19 care products

When her summer job was cancelled due to COVID-19, Vanessa Vassalos wanted to find a way to give back to the community.
By: Stewart Wiseman
July 24, 2020
Photo: CBC News Montreal

Sixteen-year-old Vanessa Vassalos was anticipating to work her "first real job" this summer, and wanted to find work that was meaningful to her. However, COVID-19 made it very difficult for teenagers to find summer jobs. Vassalos decided to create her own job for the summer, and managed to turn the challenges of the pandemic into a summer opportunity. The Montreal teenager opened a pop-up shop called 'Essentiels COVID-19,' specializing in COVID-19 care products.

Upon immigrating to Montreal from Greece, Vassalos's grandfather invested in a building on Park Avenue where he ran a travel agency on the ground floor. The building was kept through the family, and after some convincing, Vassalos persuaded her parents to let her run a store specializing in COVID-19 care products out of the same small office space that her grandfather worked in. 'Essentiels COVID-19' caters to Montreal businesses and families looking to procure personal protective equipment to stay safe during the pandemic, and the store currently sells face shields, masks, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, office signs, and gloves. The most popular item in the store is a series of locally-made animal print masks with unique patterns made with 100% organic cotton.

Vassalos says that the business’s main goal isn’t profit, but rather community support. Combining her passion for love of children and helping the community, Vassalos is donating a percentage of all profits to the Montreal Children’s Hospital. “I’m just hoping that I’m able to help others through the store and make enough profit to give a sizeable donation to the Children’s. I just want to try to keep everyone safe.”

Source: CBC News Montreal

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