Trade: on tour with Dominique, the grocer in the heart of Saint-Martin-de-Londres


Dominique Fontaine delivers for free to isolated people. A service which restores the human values ​​of the businesses of yesteryear.

If empathy made man exists, then Dominique Fontaine can apply for this incarnation. One wonders what could disturb the good humor and the benevolence of this forty-something whose good nature goes hand in hand with an extraordinary kindness.

Seeing him load his van for his tour around Saint-Martin, we can tell he’s hyperactive. Especially when it comes to helping others. These deliveries, for single and often very old people, Dominique never questioned their profitability.

Even when they’ve gone from six to twenty a week, due to confinement. “Like many food stores, I did a good job this year. For me, it is almost a public service that I owe to these loyal customers, he slips as obvious. Their smiles are the best pay. “

The click in front of the JT of Pernaut

For nine years since he took over the central grocery store in Saint-Martin, this Belgian has been living again. Love at first sight with his new region and a vocation of very simple utility, revealed after having slept in him all these years.

“I was an executive radio manipulator for 18 years, he recounts. When my hierarchy asked me to speed up the protocols in the name of profitability, a small voice awoke inside me. “ Whispering to him that it was time to move on; that he knew a lot about human values.

The click, he had it in front of the JT of Jean-Pierre Pernaut: “A series called SOS villages de France. With my wife, we said to ourselves that we wanted to go down to the South to be useful.”

When he knocks on the door, it is not to the shopkeeper but almost to a member of his family that Nicole opens her privacy. Widowed for three years, she recognizes that this service is part of things “which would not make me leave Saint-Martin for nothing in the world”.

Always a little word to take news

At Mrs. Polac, who has to take care of her sick husband, Dominique, still masked, leaves the order on the threshold, barrier measure requires. “I put everything for you in small boxes to make it less heavy”, he slips with always a little word to take news. As he climbs back into the truck a dark veil crosses his face: “This morning I learned that one of the old men I book had been hospitalized. It made me very funny.”

A few kilometers further, Mr. Jazeron awaits him firmly. This 83-year-old retiree, breathless and jovial, enjoys the view of Pic Saint-Loup from his terrace. He calls us to witness: “I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to take an extra € 5 per delivery. He deserves it.”

“You will offer me a good drink when the confinement is over, that will be enough for my happiness”, Dominique laughs.

Bring a smile

Bringing a smile, cracking isolation, this is what drives our grocer in the land of solitude. The face of another client literally lights up during our few minutes of exchanges. A social bond that gives it back the colors of life: “Being alone at the moment, at the dawn of winter, is very hard. Having relatives on the phone is not the same. Dominique is a positive person who cheers me up.”

Beyond these small victories over the consequences of the epidemic, he worries and protests: “We feel that people have morale that goes down even more during this confinement. The economy is suffering. I blame the people who have gathered this summer. We have not changed anything in our grocery store. The masks are remained compulsory.”

“Thank you for helping me to live in my house”

The tour is coming to an end, at Mas de Borie, far from it all in a small paradise surrounded by holm oaks. Andrée, 97, crawls to the small bench on the terrace, her eyes filled with almost youthful gratitude: “Dominique surrounds me with a lot of thoughtfulness. Sometimes he brings me a flower, a small gift. Thank you for helping me to continue living at home.”

She extends a friendly hand to him. He smiles and hides his emotion. Later, on the return, he will tell us: “It’s hard for her. Her husband, a former engineer, passed away last year. I loved chatting with him. It’s like these people are my family.”

There are, like that, tours that turn you back.

Soon opening of a “hyper”

He is aware that this project will perhaps damage his image but ensures that his customers support him: Dominique Fontaine will open at the end of 2021 a Casino hypermarket in Saint-Martin-de-Londres, in the Liquière area. But he explains it easily: “It was not in my idea but the municipality wanted to open one whatever happened. Not to do so was to leave the field open to someone else and to risk die.” Over 700 m2, it will offer almost exclusively food, create between eight and sixteen jobs, and promises to keep the center’s grocery store.

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