Amid the pandemic, business booms in small village

·3 min read

SALISBURY • As businesses on many of the country’s main streets shutter, one rural New Brunswick community is seeing new businesses turn on the "Open" signs on its main thoroughfare.

The village of Salisbury – population under 2,500 in the last census – has a number of things going for it, but as village councillor Rob Campbell points out, the secret seems to be getting people to notice.

“The amount of traffic that goes by the area is one of the highest in traffic counts in the province, but a lot of people don’t know these things,” he said.

Beautification, including hanging baskets, trees and other initiatives, has changed the feeling of the town, Campbell said, adding that this has largely been thanks to a substantial group of volunteers.

There are other natural features – like extensive wetlands – but it seemed as if nobody knew about them since they weren't as well promoted as Sackville’s equivalent and trails, he said.

Kayla’s Keepsakes is one of several new businesses to open their doors in the past few weeks.

“We actually only opened a month ago,” said owner Kayla Tingley. “And it’s going a lot better than I thought.”

Her new store on Main Street sells everything from knick-knacks to antiques and clothing.

Despite the pandemic, Tingley said she decided to take a chance on opening a business because “a lot of people said Salisbury needed a store like this.”

Once her store was up and running, she said the village did its best to roll out the welcome mat, even asking if they could take photos for a slide show to post on social media to promote her business, she said.

“I was shocked,” Tingley said.

Alex Coffin, who owns Alex & Lily's Shoe Shoppe in Sussex, was looking to open a second location. He said it was Campbell who reached out to him on Facebook and connected him with two locations in Salisbury that were available for rent.

He plans to open his store in November or early December, he said.

“Most of our customers live in rural areas. I always wanted to have stores in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect,” said Coffin, adding that this allows him to continue his passion as a competitive runner in a place he fell in love with.

Existing businesses are also thriving.

“We had a record year for sure,” said Dawn Beckwith Corrigan, owner of the Green Pig Country Market, which is visible from the Moncton side of the Trans-Canada Highway and the off-ramps at the Salisbury exit. The market – which also has a café, as well as a seasonal sunflower festival in August and corn maze in the late summer and fall – saw thousands flock to the village from all across the Atlantic bubble.

Beckwith Corrigan said she thinks the corn maze has probably had a better year so far because it is outside across 14 acres at a time when being outside feels safe.

Campbell said the village has been trying to use social media to encourage the crowds of people who visit the Green Pig Country Market to venture a few minutes down the road to check out other businesses while they're in the area. Others have done so on their own accord.

The pandemic, people working from home and not wanting to venture too far afield have definitely helped many businesses in the town, so there may have been a bit of a perfect storm at play, said Campbell – although he acknowledged the village did lose a flower shop.

“It feels like there is a possibility mindset and an entrepreneurial spirit,” said Mike Holland, the MLA for the Albert riding, where Salisbury is located.

In the last few weeks the village has witnessed six new businesses open up – including a tire shop, a seniors' village complex, Aaron’s Coffee House and a gift shop, Holland said.

“They are catering to the needs of those who live there, as well as others,” Holland said.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal