The many personalities of the Dayles Grand Market that make it a great experience to go to are: Bottom from the left Jennifer Kants and Norm (Beans and Cocoa toys and gifts), Charlene MacDonald (Crystal Cafe), and Kathy Legere (Copper Tree Boutique). Upper row from the left: Karen McKinnon (Maritime Mosaic), Deborah McConnell ( Not to Shabby And More) and Hal Davidson ( HD Coins and Collectibles). (Mark Goudge/SaltWire Networks)
There was something suspicious about the young man. His attention went from the shelves to the exit behind him; too distracted to notice the ring, ding and vibration of the
Soon, it seemed everyone looked up from their devices and stared at the man.
Unable to shake the deafening stares, the young man made his exit – the floor creaking underfoot with each step.
“We take care of our own here,” a fiery redhead with dark rimmed glasses and arm length tattoos says with a giggle.
Looking around, everyone else is having a chuckle too.
Karen MacKinnon, the fiery redhead and ipso-facto matriarch of the gang, sent a private Facebook message to the vendors’ group page when her sixth-sense worried her about the young man lingering just a little too long between some unprotected merchandise and the exit.
It’s just one way they use social media to help their tiny community of independent businesses. From discussing who is working the next
The vendors – inside what once was a leading clothing and general merchandise store in the border community – are redefining the definition of success. There is no board of directors demanding double profit margins for shareholders or talk of contracting production overseas. Success is happiness … and not going hungry.
And, yes, they can have both.
At one time it seemed like nothing was going right for Karen.
A collection of follies and lessons learned in Ontario found her and her partner back in Nova Scotia, unemployed with two children to support.
She came to what she called her ‘sink or swim’ moment in life.
What Karen had was an ability to nurture ideas – not exactly an off-the-shelf business startup model, but it was something she could channel.
Karen decided to try something very different. She found downtown retail
Fittingly, she calls her business Maritime Mosaic and it was not a difficult sell with area artisans.
“I only placed one ad when I first opened and since then it’s just been word of mouth.”
That was almost a year ago and since then Karen has moved her business from its original location to a much-loved building many thought would never see another day of business.
It wasn’t easy closing Dayle’s Department Store.
Inevitable, but not easy.
In its heyday, it was the largest department store east of Montreal. Three floors of shopping, and displays that changed with the season. It’s printed ceilings and elegant wood staircase
But the world was changing. Box stores, online
The move would double Maritime Mosaic’s floor space, but only take up half of the main floor inside the Victoria Street East building. Between the nostalgia of shopping at the beloved department store and the opportunity to buy quality, the public responded in droves.
“In the first two weeks of December, we paid out over $30,000 back to our community,” Karen said.
There was a lot of space still left inside the building, however, but creative minds were calling.
Hal Davidson loves the building.
He loved it when it was Dayle’s Department Store and Margolians before that. Built in 1906 and opened in 1907, it was called the Two Barkers until 1955.
Retired three years ago from a lengthy 33-year career in the public sector, Hal was one of the first customers when the doors opened on Dayle’s Grand Market
The staircase, the squeaky
“There are people who come in here and they walk up the stairs and they turn around and they go ‘Wow. I love this building.’ And they talk about all the things they like.”
For Hal, he just happens to like old things.
He’s collected coins and
When he shared his idea, the die was cast.
“When I talked to Karen … she said: ‘If you’re interested I’d love to have you here. I can loan you this 18-foot table, I’ll loan you the old display cabinet, which would be perfect for displaying
Without hesitation, he chose the landing at the top of the stairs. It’s the perfect perch for Hal Davidson’s Coins & Collectibles. As the ‘baby-business’ owner of the bunch, everyone playfully keeps an eye on Hal.
And he’s happy for it.
“I’m not a business person. I’ve never
Kathy Chapell Legere
Owning a business is no simple task. Nothing is guaranteed.
But if anyone is stressed out about it, it’s hard to tell. The business owners crack jokes, catch up on weekend gossip and enjoy sweet treats courtesy of the
Ask Copper Tree Boutique owner Kathy Chapell Legere, and she’s apt to tell you in some ways she did.
“Fifteen years ago I decided I should have my own business, but you have to get through life first,” Kathy said. “Raising kids, you want to know you have a guaranteed income.”
Kathy says she took the safe road by working in retail.
She was about to go up the corporate ladder when reality set in.
“I started thinking about it hard: I’m going to work away from home, be on the road three or four nights a week; your email doesn’t stop, your phone doesn’t stop seven days a week, around the clock. Is this what I want to do?” she said. “I would be able to retire in 10 years but this wasn’t what I want to do.
“So I said, ‘No. I’m going to open my own business and work for the rest of my life.’”
It seems crazy, but after you meet Kathy you understand. She’s a first-class people-person and her boutique brings back some of the department store charm focused on satisfying two key demographics: the public and herself. Instead of selling just what she likes, she focuses on what she feels the community needs. The trade
“As long as I was in retail I'd be happy,” she says.
Debbie McConnell also comes from a retail background. Ten years ago she owned a shoe franchise and worked in women’s retail, but trying to make someone else’s corporate model work was not for her. Today she offers
She loves it.
She’s about to start teaching classes on refurbishing. It wasn’t part of her initial plan but as her own
“I had a lot of people asking, so I should do that. There is a demand for it.”
There is almost a micro-Wall Street taking place inside Dayle’s Grand Market. Instead of trading stocks and bonds, there are friendly mergers and takeovers happening.
Charlene MacDonald and Jen Kants
Just across from Debbie’s corner of the market a major acquisition is happening. After working as the manager of the Holy Cow Café, Charlene MacDonald took it over and rebranded it as the Crystal Café, a compliment to her Mystical Gifts business which was nurtured by Maritime Mosaic until MacDonald was ready to become a full-time business owner.
Next door to the market is Jen Kants’s Beans & Cocoa Toys and Gifts. The business also started under the Maritime Mosaic banner before becoming a standalone operation and Kant’s plans to relocate to the market this September.
“I’ve always loved that building… the goal (is) for all of us to be together. We all know each other well, so it’s exciting,”
In the old days, a market was the hub of the community. Everyone knew the local butcher and trust the advice of the shopkeeper to find that perfect thing for a wedding anniversary. As centuries turned, things became industrialized. ‘Made Here’ became ‘Made Somewhere Else.’ Markets became malls. Malls became box stores.
Maybe the clock is turning back here, but more likely we are witnessing a marriage between the old days and the new. It’s given new life to an old building loved by the community, and a sense of happiness to the people inside.
Every day something new comes through the door, and sometimes that new thing is you.
The floors still creak here, and the smiles are, indeed, genuine.