EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was submitted by Gwen Zwicker.
SACKVILLE, N.B. – When Dave McVeigh, his wife Tracy, daughter Kat and son Dane moved from Wainwright, Alta., to Sackville in 2014, Dave knew he wanted to start a business but wasn’t sure what that business would be.
“I’ve always had an interest in rocks and music,” says Dave, “so that seemed like a good place to start.”
The McVeigh family researched a few towns across Canada for their next adventure and Sackville became the winner. Why Sackville? Dave says the family’s choice was made because of the ambiance the town exuded and some past history with Mount Allison. For Dave, the choice was made even better by the fact that Sackville is central to the region and close to the highway, therefore making it a great place to operate a business. Customers outside of Sackville currently make up a considerable amount of his business.
Dave retired from the Canadian Forces after 33 years as an aircraft electrician. He also tried his hand as a photographer, creating vignette stories on soldiers, then took the opportunity to study visual art and graphic design after retirement. At MacKenzie College in Moncton, he learned that “drawing is a skill, not a talent.” He designed and made the sign for his store and regularly makes buttons, which have become big sellers.
Dave is proud his store is a family business. His credo is that he “fosters a family-friendly environment that focuses on vinyl records and rocks (crystal and mineral).” Dave and his daughter Kat are the most seen faces at the Emporium while his wife Tracy runs a tight ship working on the administrative side. His son Dane keeps an eye on the music.
How does Dave decide which vinyl records are sold? He says there has in recent years been a resurgence in vinyl but what customers buy is diverse. Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1974) is still the biggest seller, but the selection is deliberately diverse because the customers are. He comments that a number of younger adults are attracted to the older style music – even Bing Crosby. One of his biggest learning curves is keeping up with the new bands, so he frequently has to rely on his customers to help with that. He will often have Indie bands drop in and sign records. Dave has always had a keen interest in improv, acting and entertaining (he was a clown for a while). He’s already had a punk band perform at his Emporium and would like to have more bands drop by, however, he “wants to make sure it’s okay for all the neighbours with the noise level, and so on.”
In addition to vinyl records and rocks, Dave’s Rock Emporium offers posters, turntables, jewelery made by two local artisans, small magnifiers and buttons. From time to time, Dave will get donations of stereos, which he in turn donates to someone who needs one. In the coming months, he plans to expand his inventory of rocks. He says he is always on the lookout for used posters.
Is Dave planning to expand his business? He says, “People come in with ideas. We would like to expand some of our products and add new ones, but that will be a family discussion. I’m not really interested in selling online or getting into too much social media. I’d like to keep the personal touch with my customers.”
He says his business is always a learning curve.
“I need more education on rocks in particular,” he says. “There are people who look at rocks in a metaphysical sense and people who look at rocks in a geological sense. I need to gain more knowledge in those aspects.”
He will expand his rock selection and probably add more in-store items but that will be a conscious family decision. He would also like to host a handful of bands per year for the under 19 age group. One thing he will add is cloth bags.
Having just wrapped up his first year in business, Dave says it has gone well overall. The Emporium has sold more than 2,500 records and rocks of all kinds to all ages. He says January and February are his most challenging months, so to help combat that he has started working with wire wrapping, creating some jewelery and small animals.
Now that the McVeigh family has been in Sackville a few years, they’re here to stay.
“The community support has been great and we love it here,” Dave says. “I think it was a very good decision to move here.” And for those who enjoy religious recordings like hymns, you can drop by anytime – those records are free.
Dave’s Rock Emporium is located at 15 Bridge St. in Sackville. The Emporium can be reached at: (506) 232-6895. The shop is open Mondays, noon to 5 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.