All for one and one for all, say local businesses looking for support

You only need to do one thing to keep local businesses open in your neighbourhood: shop there.

And that's something Krista Neville, who owns Volcano Bakery in St. John's, wanted to make clear in a Facebook post shared and liked more than a thousand times since it was posted March 11.

"It was really a call to action for people to shop local," Neville said.

"I know sometimes it's a little out of the way to do it, sometimes things are a little bit more expensive to shop local, but when there's locally-owned small businesses in your community, it really makes sense to kind of share the wealth."

Neville took over the bakery business about a year ago, after the founder, a friend of hers, passed away.

And while it's a struggle some days, the good outweighs the bad.

"It's been great. It's been quite an experience for sure," she told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

"I mean, there's days definitely where you go, I must be crazy to be doing what I'm doing, and if you're not in it for the game, if you don't enjoy the game of the business, it's kind of not a place for you."

'Be a little bit more vocal'

Running a small business of any kind isn't for everyone, either, she said.

But if it's something you want to do, you need to be open to asking for help, rather than just putting on a show to highlight your successes; if you're having a hard time, share that, she said.

Paula Gale/CBC

"There's so many businesses, especially restaurants, that you think that they're really making a go of it and you think that they're really doing great, and then bam, all of a sudden they're gone," said Neville.

"I think that we need to be a little bit more vocal and there's nothing wrong with asking for some help."

Neville said the amount of feedback and support to her Facebook post has been "overwhelming."

'Montreal's a lot easier'

One of the fellow business owners who saw the post was Chris Scott, who opened Toslow, a speak-easy bar on Duckworth Street.

"The business community around here is great and they really help each other out and at the end of the day, that's who's gonna pull you through stuff," Scott said of his experience opening a shop in St. John's.

Scott's inspiration for Toslow, which is also the name of an abandoned town on the Burin Peninsula, was taken from places he'd visit while living and running a business in Montreal.

Volcano Bakery Facebook

"Coming back I knew I wanted to have something like what I had there that just didn't exist here, and it's in some ways an anti-bar to what a lot of the bars are here in St. John's or Newfoundland in general," Scott said.

Scott ran a screen-printing business in Montreal for four years or so, and said he was doing great, but wanted to move home.

Opening a business here has come with more challenges than he expected.

"I didn't leave Montreal because I hated it, I'll tell you that much," he said.

"Montreal's a lot easier, and that's not to turn anyone off from moving back home and opening a business here, but I mean it's just reality."

Scott said he had to cut through a lot of "red tape" in order to open a business modeled after what he had in mind, and had to change his original idea in order to conform to what he calls N.L.'s stricter liquor laws.

But his business is now able to support local craft brewers, since that's all Toslow carries.

"From day one, we only sell independent beer, there's no Molson, no Labatt here," Scott said.

"There's a lot of talent here. I think in a couple years it's gonna be pretty wild. The amount of tourism coming from that alone will be pretty big."

Meanwhile, Volcano Bakery's owner said anyone headed out for a night should maybe look beyond their usual haunts.

"If you're somebody who typically goes to a bigger name restaurant, as an example, you know, maybe this Friday night, try one of the smaller, local restaurants and just see what they have to offer," she said, adding it's the same for baked goods, like at her shop.

"There's no way we can make items as cheap as … Christie Cookies can make them for. But we do know what goes in our products."

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