Businesswomen bring life to Murray River with coffee, books, consignment clothing

·3 min read

MURRAY RIVER – Two buildings near the community's waterfront are opening their doors to customers once again after more than a year of sitting empty.

Located just across from each other in Murray River, the former Magik Dragon store and Fancy's Coffee Counter had both closed in late 2019. Now, three entrepreneurs have taken over the buildings and are bringing their visions and passions to the area.

"I love the idea of things being reused, given new life," entrepreneur Michelle Hodgeson said. "Hopefully, with a few of us opening back up, it'll be good."

The two new shops have a focus on community service, whether it be with fresh beverages and homemade dog treats or a closer-to-home option for adult and kid's consignment clothing.

For Stephanie Kain, an English professor and author, Buttercup Café & Books started as a side project.

"We needed something to do."

She and her wife, Nancy Campbell, opened the business in what was formerly Fancy's late last year. They both have other jobs, and neither are overly fond of coffee. However, Campbell's baking skills are top-notch, and having space for a bookstore was appealing to Kain, she said.

They had moved to P.E.I. from Ontario just before the COVID-19 pandemic and wanted to start something new in case their other jobs were heavily impacted.

"We opened in the dead of winter – in the dead of a pandemic – in the middle of a fishing village," Kain said. "But the community's been fantastic and supportive."

They already have several regulars with one popular treat being the café’s peanut butter Rice Krispie squares. And the bookstore space is being used to hold community events and children's activities.

As well, Campbell makes homemade dog treats, and there are plans to re-do the outdoor section so there's room for dogs to hang out and for more customer seating.

Across the road, Hodgson is preparing to open Salvage Garden Consignment in April. She and her family also moved from Ontario around the same time that Kain and Campbell did.

Upon arriving, she noticed that there weren't many clothing stores in the area. Having quick access to clothing is important for families, and the drive to urban centres can be long, she said.

"And with kids, it's even longer."

She also noticed consignment stores aren't as common on P.E.I. as in Ontario. The model sees stores appraise and sell clothing provided by customers, and the customer gets a percentage of the profit.

She didn't expect how positive the community's response would be when she started the business online. When she shared the news of purchasing the former Magik Dragon building on Facebook, the post went viral.

"I hope it's indicative of being needed in the area," she said. "Clothing is something that everybody needs."

She also plans to have what she calls a "community corner" for people to sell their own products such as artwork, she said.

Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian