Newcomers revitalize beloved East Ship Harbour store to delight of community

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Newcomers revitalize beloved East Ship Harbour store to delight of community

Werner Venter and Kim Putinta kept getting questioned by the neighbours as they painted their new home in the rural, coastal community of East Ship Harbour, N.S.

"You'd have people driving up and they're rolling down the window, 'You opening the store?'" recalled Putinta.

That's because their spot used to be the community hub. It started out as the Ship Cove Co-op in the 1940s and switched hands over the years to become more of a general store.

It hadn't been open in nine years when the couple bought the property in the community about 80 kilometres east of Halifax.

'Let's reopen the store'

The couple is building a campground across the street and needed a place to live. They also needed a place to use as the camping storefront.

It wasn't their original plan, but Venter and Putinta didn't think twice about the community requests.

"We said, 'Why would we not reopen the store? Let's reopen the store,'" Putinta laughed.

Venter said they determined the store would no longer be viable as a co-op, so they decided to turn it into the Norse Cove Cafe and Supply — a coffee and camping shop.

"It kind of just snowballed from that," said Venter. "It's gotten bigger and bigger and bigger."

Venter is from South Africa and Putinta is from Canada. She spent some time growing up in Nova Scotia.

The two were living in the Netherlands working as chemical weapons inspectors for the UN-affiliated Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Their search for something different led them to East Ship Harbour where residents, it seems, were looking for something familiar.

'The greatest thing'

Linda Fahie sipped coffee Friday at Norse Cove. She was born in the community 71 years ago and has been coming to the store all her life.

Her sisters are a bit older now and used to hang out there when it was a co-op in the 40s.

People would linger out front, or sit on the floor inside and listen to a radio program.

"They were just gathering around like we do today, although we're older now so we're groupies," she said with a laugh.

Mary DeWolfe once worked in the store. She was there when Terry Fox ran by and stopped in.

She said he bought chocolate milk or a chocolate bar, and had a little rest outside.

"It was sad when he went by," she said.

John Kennedy said his brother owned the store at one point. Now Kennedy comes to Norse Cove to meet up with friends or grab some milk.

"I think it's the greatest thing that's hit this place in 25 or 30 years," said Kennedy.

Viking connection

Venter and Putinta said they came up with the name Norse Cove while visiting a museum in Iceland and learning Vikings had visited a spot close to their new home in East Ship Harbour.

The couple plans to open the campground across the street next month. They call it small footprint camping, meant for people travelling lightly, with tents or small campers.