Let me introduce myself: I'm Janet Davis, an artist and entrepreneur living and working on the North side of Bonavista Bay, on the island of Newfoundland in Eastern Canada. There are many challenges to running a business here in a small rural community, and there are many wonderful benefits too. This blog is where I share some of those challenges and triumphs, and share what it's like to live in this part of the world.
And now, off to put new stock in the shelves, tidy up my office (a messy office leads to all kinds of bad vibes!) and order up a bite to eat from my favourite restaurant… And after I close up the studio for the day, I’m off to The REACH (my other job) to hang a new exhibition that opens tomorrow! There is an opening reception for Tracy Blackwood’s AMASS at the Art Gallery at The REACH on Canada Day from 3 to 6pm. I hope to see some of my loyal readers there!
Duke and I had a lovely little getaway night aboard our sailing vessel Virtue which is tied up at Terra Nova National Park’s wharf. Such a beautiful spot! We had a gorgeous moonlit night and spent our morning on a little hike on one of the trails…
While I enjoyed this little excursion very much, there was the stress of wondering what’s going to happen with our business this coming week always hanging a shadow over me. Last week we saw such a significant dip in business at the studio and café that I had to dip into personal debt in order to pay the weekly bills. I can’t afford to do that much more, and we have four weeks left in the season yet. What to do? Do I risk personal debt in order to keep 8 valued staff-members employed for the next four weeks? Do I disappoint the few customers who have made reservations for special occasions? We really do need to be going full tilt to pay the bills. This week I will keep going, run the risk, and reassess on Saturday. Fingers toes and eyes crossed that I can keep going until Thanksgiving as planned!
After sending out notice to my subscribers last week about having to close down the café sooner than planned, I received quite a few overwhelming emails from people who love what we’re doing there: the food, the decor, the ambiance, the service, etc. My heart was swelling with pride in the gains we’ve made this year, my gorgeous staff and me.
It is one of my favourite restaurants of all time. So cozy and calm, with a beautiful ocean backdrop. Wonderful food and staff.
customer of norton’s cove café
Today, I am working on my accounting, which is looking pretty grim. After making a foolish mistake on September 6th (I deleted some files that I shouldn’t have), I was forced to start re-entering all my accounting journal entries back as far as July 6th. Twenty days later, I’ve put in lots of extra accounting hours, and I have re-entered all revenue, and enough of my expenditures to reconcile my bank account. I have a table full of stacks of receipts left to go, and as I keep entering expenses, with no customers coming in the door, my anxiety levels are raising by the receipt entered.
I am doing what I can, creating new works, building my stock for the Christmas Craft Fair in November, and trying to keep my spirits up to help me deal with the financial stress of being an artist and entrepreneur in outport Newfoundland.
After work this evening, Jack & I had enough daylight remaining to get a little walk in at Business Pond. Seems an appropriately named place to go at the end of the business day. Jack has been using the same stick for the last three visits, leaving it by the fence before he hops into the vehicle and picking it up again to carry around the trail and fetch from the pond.
I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, my depression mostly a thing of the past, but I have to keep reminding myself not to get too caught up with work- I have to take the time to go for walks and enjoy the outdoors in order to stay healthy. I have learned a lot over the last couple of years, and I have to keep using all that new knowledge in order to stay positive. I realize that the path to depression can be a very easy one to slip on when things aren’t going as planned.
My business has a long way to go before I can call it successful. I reopened the café on Mother’s Day, May 12th. I realize now that I should have waited. There has not been enough traffic to warrant being open full-time, and I’m paying for that error in judgment. In the meantime, I have to keep my head up, keep trying to improve our marketing and keep my fingers crossed that it will all work out in the end.
There are so many small businesses out there like mine, who really depend on our support- I often wonder what kind of stresses the owners are under, and what strategies they might use to keep themselves optimistic. I think I’m just stubborn enough to keep going no matter what, but there is always the fear that I will lose everything if I can’t pay my bills. Such is the life of an entrepreneur!
I’m happy to report that the 2017 staff of Norton’s Cove Studio & Café have been nominated for an award! I was recently contacted by the municipality of New-Wes-Valley, asking if it would be okay if they nominated us- it sure is okay!
The Gander & Area Chamber of Commerce is holding a gala event on November 22nd, in honour of the 18th Annual Joe & Clarice Goodyear Business Achievement Awards at the Quality Inn & Suites at Gander.
We are up for a Customer Service Award, which I’m quite proud of. Have you visited Norton’s Cove? What did you think of our customer service this year? Are we deserving?
Next week this time, I’ll be selling my wares at the 45th Annual Christmas Craft Fair, hosted by the Craft Council of NL (of which I’ve been a member for 28 years!). It really is the best show of the season, with juried artisans of the best kind.
Until departing for St. John’s on Tuesday, I’ll be busy in my studio, framing up mini-prints and other artwork, and packing up for the road.
My hands are busy, but washing glass isn’t exactly the most interesting of my chores, and I’d love to have some brain exercise too- please stop in for a chat!
Today marks 16 years since the day I first opened Norton’s Cove Studio for business. A tiny figure compared to the 128th anniversary of the construction of the historic general store that houses my studio & shop, but significant to me never-the-less!
To thank you, my faithful customers, friends, neighbours, and family who have supported me through the years, I have a few treats for you here at the studio today:
door prize: $25 gift card
50% off all cards, minis, bookmarks, and framed minis
25% off everything else in the shop
door opens at 10am and closes at 6pm
Online customers get a different deal:
40% off all artwork by Janet Davis: use code Anniversary Sale
Also use this code if you don’t require shipping: PICKUPINSTORE
6am to 10pm (Newfoundland time!)
Go ahead, make the most of both deals!
To all of you, whether you are a repeat customer with an entire Janet Davis art collection, you stopped in once on a travel trip and bought #justacard, or you love to eat at my restaurant, THANK YOU. Every purchase counts towards a successful business that is employing several people and I think is doing good things in our tiny community here outport Newfoundland. I hope this little business keeps growing!
In addition to printing cards, the other kind of paperwork, and thinking about other projects (which I’ll tell you about in another post), I’ve been tidying up around the shop and rearranging some displays. Here’s how this c.1890 Kean’s General Store is looking today…
If there is one shop you need to visit in Newfoundland, it’s this place. Gorgeous displays, beautiful staff, high quality hand made art, craft, and gift items; interesting bits inside and out that you’ll need some time to take it all in.
Virtue & Captain Job Kean moved to Norton’s Cove around 1879. They had eleven children, and ran a business together for many years. Virtue had been raised at Middle Bill Cove, a part of Cape Freels, in Bonavista Bay, just a 15-20 minute drive from Norton’s Cove on modern(ish) roads, and met Job on Flower’s Island where she’d held the position of Schoolmarm.
As far as I can tell, Virtue was in charge of the shop where I sit typing this right now. It’s known as Kean’s General Store by the Heritage Foundation, or Job Kean Shop, and it has J. KEAN in wooden lettering over the door outside. I’m thinking of changing the J. to a V. Maybe even V. HANN.
But keeping the J. Kean outside the door reminds me how far women have come in the world, since Virtue’s beginnings. What a strong woman she must have been, to run a very successful business and raise a family (with plenty of tragedy- only 45% of her children reached adulthood) with her partner gone to sea for months at a time. She was a host to doctors who stayed at her home while working at the clinic that had been set up very nearby. She kept horses, helped to run the telegraph office (where my woodshed is now), taught Sunday school, and played piano. And she still made time to write silly folk song lyrics to be sung at community concerts and raise money for charity.
Lukey’s boat is painted green, aha me b’ys
Lukey’s boat is painted green, the prettiest John Dominey ever did see
Aha, aha me riddle I day.