If you’re from the United Kingdom, chances are Bryan Cummins from Unique Ireland can show you your coat of arms, and which county your family comes from. All he has to do is look at the posters hanging by his front counter that display historic arms from Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales – the countries you’ll find represented in his store.
Unique Ireland is a “one-stop Celtic shop” for everything Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh. Bryan, owner of the store, worked in the hotel industry for many years and had a dream to one day own his own business, before finally opening Unique Ireland at The Forks.
A store that features Irish and UK products seems like a natural fit for Cummins. Although he was born and raised in Winnipeg, his parents both came from Northern Ireland. So the Irish culture and community always have been– and still is – a big part of his life.
After selling Irish items online, and then taking his sales to Folklorama, Cummins realized enough demand to open a year-round shop. Today you’ll find rugby jerseys, tee-shirts, scarves, maps, crests, posters, and all kinds of fun and distinct souvenirs at Unique Ireland. If you need a tartan plaid cap, a bodhran drum, or Celtic wall tiles, Unique Ireland has all of those things.
Some of his most popular products are imported food items like tea, chocolate and crisps. He also sells a lot of Dr. Who and Guinness merchandise, and is the only retailer in Winnipeg that carries jerseys from England’s Premier League football teams.
Cummins travels to Ireland as often as he can to visit family, and to source opportunities for new items and trends. He adds new products to his store every two to three weeks. He also accepts special orders to make sure you get that hard-to-find item.
Through Unique Ireland, Cummins is doing his part to help keep Irish culture alive in Canada. He is also proud and passionate about living the culture himself and has competed in Irish dancing throughout his life.
One of his favourite things about being at The Forks is meeting different people from the UK. Everyone has their own story about why they moved here, or what brings them to visit Winnipeg. And he can even help them find their coat of arms, right there in his store.
- Unique Ireland opened its doors in 2013 on Canada Day – a fitting date for a multi-cultural store to open in a multi-cultural market like The Forks.
- Irn-Bru is a Scottish carbonated soft drink, known as ‘Scotland’s other national drink’ – and you can get it at Unique Ireland.
- In Canada, we call them potato chips. In the UK, they call them crisps. Unique Ireland carries a variety of crisps, including cheese and onion, and haggis and cracked black pepper.
- Dr. Who is a British sci-fi TV show produced by the BBC since 1963. It’s a significant part of British pop culture, and cult television favourite in other parts of the world. You’ll find all things Dr. Who at Unique Ireland.