PORT ELGIN, N.B. – The Village of Port Elgin has gained four new businesses over the past several months, pointing to what the village council hopes will be an upswing in interest in the small community.
Since October the village has seen the re-opening of the long-time Cole’s Hardware; although now under new management, the retail outlet is also sporting a new name – Gaspereau Hardware and More.
Owner Shelley Murphy said last week that she’s happy to offer a wide range of items at the Main Street store and encourages customers to drop in and check out what she has in stock.
“I just opened before Christmas so I’m still building inventory. I welcome people’s input on this; I’d like to carry items that people need and appreciate them letting me know what those needs are,” she said.
Murphy, who is the daughter of long-time Port Elgin store owners C.W. (Dud) and Madeline Cole, says she has big shoes to fill in operating the store.
“My mother ran Cole’s Hardware for many years; both she and my father always believed that Port Elgin was a good community to live and operate a business in and I do too. The local residents were supportive in the past and I’m hoping they’ll continue to be in the future,” she said.
Gaspereau Hardware and More offers a broad range of hardware items, yarn and china giftware and is also building an inventory of dollar-store type items such as gift wrap, stationery and giftware items.
After a brief hiatus, the Shore Stop Restaurant has also re-opened in a new location on the Shemogue Road, with owner Phyllis Sprague once again offering a menu of scrumptious home-cooked meals. Sprague said recently that she’s very happy to be back serving new and old customers.
“Port Elgin is a great place; I raised my children here. I can’t imagine living or working anywhere else. The people are supportive, the village is supportive, so why would I want to go elsewhere,” she said.
In fact, after closing her former restaurant facility last summer she had numerous offers to own and operate businesses in neighbouring communities, but turned them all down so she could remain in the village she has long called home.
“This village is a good place to run a business. I’d like to see other businesses open here too and I encourage businesspersons to consider Port Elgin when they’re looking for a good place to launch a business. We have good utility services and a low tax rate, and this community is a very friendly place to live and work,” she said.
She added that not only are the local residents supportive, but many of her long-time customers include people who are regularly visiting in the community or travelling through the area.
Port Elgin now also has the services of a full-service, full-time hair salon. Early in the fall Kelly’s Kutz opened in the Blue Heron building adjacent Cole’s Hardware on Main Street. Owner Kelly Tower said last week that opening the salon has been her long-time dream, and Port Elgin was the only place that she considered doing just that.
“I grew up just outside of Port Elgin but spent a lot of time in my younger years in the village. I’ve always loved to be in this community; it’s a very pretty little village and people are so friendly and supportive of each other. Now that I have a little boy of my own I want him to grow up in this area too,” she said.
Tower noted however, that housing is the one main area in which Port Elgin is lacking.
“We need more affordable housing in this area. Business people are building apartments and houses in the larger neighbouring communities, but I’d like to see them invest in housing in Port Elgin. There are a lot of people moving to this area from larger cities and it’s hard for them to find suitable places to live. That’s the biggest challenge here and it’s one that needs to be addressed,” she said.
For many years Port Elgin was without the services of a restaurant, however it now is fortunate to have not just one, but two family restaurants.
In October C & J Family Restaurant opened on Main Street in Port Elgin operated by sisters Cassandra and Jessica Noonan.
Jessica said recently that they are happy to operate a restaurant that had been operated one-time by their mother Cathy Noonan.
“We knew that the restaurant was coming up for sale so we thought it would be good to open it; our mother had enjoyed operating this restaurant until five years ago. We have a lot of community support, and a lot of other businesses that support us too, so things are going well,” she said.
Noonan, who is also the mother of two young children, said she’d like to see more events and activities for children in the area as well as more affordable housing.
“It’s unfortunate that many times parents have to travel to other areas for their children to participate in sports and recreation activities. But the village is still a nice, safe place to raise our children so I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” she said.
Port Elgin mayor Judy Scott is very pleased by the addition of four businesses in the village over the past couple months.
“I think it’s just wonderful. These four businesses are all a definite asset to this region. Port Elgin is a small community; and we know it’s not the booming village it was 50 or 100 years ago. People today are tending to travel to the larger towns and cities to shop and do their business but Port Elgin isn’t the only small community to experience this problem. It’s happening in most small towns across the country. However, we still offer a good number of retail and service outlets; we have friendly and supportive people living in the village and in the surrounding communities and we’d like the world to know that Port Elgin may be small, but we’re looking to the future and are definitely open for business,” she said.