Usually sellers are happy when they are able to accept an offer, and all the conditions are waived. In our case, being able to say that our store in Hillsburn was officially sold led to something resembling a panic situation.
Where were we going to go next?
We have been seriously considering a property in Clementsvale. It was very economically priced but needed work (and lots of it). However, we thought it would be an ideal spot for an old-fashioned country store. We knew that the couple who were buying Fundy’s Mountain did not want us to leave too much stock, so we felt we needed to choose a location that would allow another similar convenience/general store. But this time we would be able to write our own hours. There would be no expectations as there was no existing business.
We didn’t even get a chance to make an offer on the Clementsvale property. We received an email from one of the sellers stating they had just received an offer they would likely accept.
Onto Plan B! Ian took off on a hunt for just the right property. He’d had his sights on Smiths Cove for a while. A decent-sized community with no retail businesses, but several inns, motels, campgrounds. It would be quieter over the winter months, but the population should still be able to sustain a small store. Then it would be much busier during the tourist season.
One property that was for sale at the time in Smiths Cove looked promising. It was a mini home (mobile home in most parts of the world) with a large 2-storey building behind. Full walk-out basement. Good-sized yard that was bordered by Highway 1 at the front and the trail system at the back. It would take only a little renovation to turn it into a store (then turn it back into a house if need be!). The property had been used for commercial purposes before, and there was a parking area already in place.
Best of all, the price was right. The sellers were asking $65,000.
The one drawback was that it was on a dug well. We knew that we would need to install a drilled well before we could open a food-related business. The Health Department would require a good clean water sample. And putting in a new drilled well was bound to be costly.
Ian asked for a showing. I didn’t even see the property. I told him to go ahead and make an offer if he thought it was a good deal. After all, time was a major factor.
His offer was accepted. And I was relieved. We had a place to go!
But it would mean moving again. I swore the last time we’d moved that it would be the last time. And then we’d need to turn the mini into a store…it all sounded exhausting!
Renovating the house into a store really wasn’t much of a job. We kept a third of it for ourselves – office, bathroom, laundry area. The mini was unusual in that it came equipped with two bathrooms – one for us, one for customers.
We called the new business The Three Little Bears Cottage Store — cottage store to emphasize its homey-ness, three little bears to point to our proximity to Bear Island and Bear River (and to offer the potential for traffic-stopping lawn displays).
We already had much of the stock, shelving, equipment. All we needed were the customers!