Marketing a small island

Prince Edward Island is about the size of Delaware, per Wikipedia. Its entire population is just a smidge over 140,000 (for references, Boston is about 650,000). And it’s known for four things:


Potatoes, Anne of Green Gables, mussels, and red soil. One doesn’t need a master’s in marketing to realize this is not much to work with.

Once you cross the bridge of certain death, you are in Anne's land. Get used to it. It's a beautiful thing.
Once you cross the bridge of certain death, you are in Anne’s land. Embrace it. It’s a beautiful thing.

Anne of Green Gables is easy. And it’s EVERYWHERE. Like Salem has Witch City Cycles and Savannah sells sippy cups with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil on them. And I don’t mind. I’m a big fan of Anne. More on that later.

But let’s talk about some of the other things here. Mussels, so far, have not been bandied about in my experience. But let’s talk about potatoes.

What can one do with the humble potato? How about a keychain?

potato keychain
No. Just no.

Or maybe you like magnets?

Hmmm. No.
Hmmm. No.

Fan of hats?


Or, for the potato fan who has it all, just go all-out apeshit…


Granted, I haven’t been to every corner of the island, but my humble suggestion is to do what Canadians have been known for for years–weird potato chip flavors. Who doesn’t love that shit? Who wasn’t spellbound by ketchup potato chips out of Canada in the 1980s? Oh, just me? Those were good days–ketchup potato chips and a Monkees reunion. What else could a suburban girl want? (amiright, fellow fangirl Kelly Geiser?)

I digress. But I was listening to a woman talk about how there’s no processing plant on the island. (And is that true? I went by a McCain factory yesterday.) They send all these lovely taters over that retched bridge to be processed and get them back as PEI chips. I say have fun with it and make a million weird flavors instead of trying to sell potato oven mitts. I looked it up, and there’s no PEI potato chip store. Just sayin.

Can we switch gears and talk dirt?

PEI dirt shirt
PEI dirt shirts

Is this a hot seller? I admittedly stopped in my tracks and did a What the what?! This seems to go up there with faux moose dropping earrings I’ve seen in stores in Maine. You can’t wear this tshirt here, because you might as well also wear your Connecticut license plate around your neck and scream “Tourist!” And will you wear it at home? Like, out of the house? I’m going to guess no.

* * *

Some things that PEI is already doing but I’d like to see have higher billing:

Preserves. I’ll be doing some shopping today because guess what–it’s raining. And I’ll be hitting the PEI Preserve Company. I remember that being a good time on my last visit. I’ll report back after.

Crafts. Okay, okay. I’m the only cross stitcher under the age of 104. But I have seen a few patterns here on the island, which is exciting. But they’re beginner patterns. I’d love to see something sophisticated for making during these endlessly rainy days. Software can create patterns out of pictures in minutes–with such scenery, there are myriad options for the discerning stitcher.

Wine. Eastern Canada has really rallied on the vineyard front. And PEI has been in the game for a while with, I think, three vineyards. I will be indulging in some local wine and bringing some home with me.

All this is to say that I shouldn’t see this in any shop on PEI:

A framed Bob Marley print below a framed map of historical shipwrecks around the island. *shakes head*
A framed Bob Marley print below a framed map of historical shipwrecks around the island. *shakes head*

* * *

In the end, mine is an outsider perspective. And I don’t know all the ins and outs of what happens here and who decides dirt shirts are where it’s at. And hell, I’m only on day three. But PEI, you are an adorable island throwback to an earlier time. Use that with an air of sophistication. You go on with your bad self.

2 thoughts on “Marketing a small island

  1. Great read Kelly! We went to the Dirt Shirt Factory last summer, but instead of buying them, we made our own. What a hoot it was and yes, I do wear mine, with great pride 🙂 How can a person read your blogs from last summer?

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