News Release Archive

Country stores don't get more authentic than Hearth and Home. Housed in a barn
off the Trans Canada Highway between New Glasgow and Antigonish, the store
has obvious natural advantages when it comes to creating a real country feel.

In keeping with its country roots, the store at Marshy Hope, Pictou County, is a
story of triumph. It is also the stuff dreams were made of for owner Debbie
Arsenault. A community business loan from the Economic Renewal Agency
allowed her to change redundancy into rejuvenation after she was laid off from her
job as a waitress last September. 

"It's something I always wanted to do. Every year I put it off . . . but when I got
laid off, we just put our heads down and worked a lot of long days for two
months," she recalled. Being in business for oneself can be gruelling. 80-hour
weeks are still commonplace, but Mrs. Arsenault has a purpose. "I put in much
more work than I ever did before . . . but you have to in order to get it to pay

The Arsenaults used a lot of their own money to renovate the barn, but didn't have
enough to finish it to their ideal specifications, stock it sufficiently and advertise.
A small business growth loan from the Economic Renewal Agency provided the
necessary financing, effectively kick-starting what has already become a successful

Traditional wood board floors, beams and a loft area greet visitors to the store.
Unique country gifts and locally-made country crafts, some made by Mrs.
Arsenault further enhance the atmosphere. Different areas of the barn feature
country decorating themes. The loft, for example, is a unique lamp room,
containing everything from kerosene lamps to wrought iron lights.

"Business is up on our projections for cashflow...we're very pleased," said Mrs.
Arsenault. "It's very busy before Christmas and on weekends."  

What's more impressive is the business is doing well during the winter when there
is virtually no tourist market, proving the country decorating themes are hot sellers
with local homeowners, too.

Such encouraging signs have prompted Mrs. Arsenault to make plans for the
future. A patio tea room and further development of theme areas, possibly
including a Christmas room, are already on the drawing board. "One half of the
barn is my husband's workshop . . . I'd like to have that, too!" she said.

Her optimism for the summer months is well founded. Building on existing
business, the tourist trade promises to be a major boost for Hearth and Home.
Studies show that between May and October, one million cars pass by on this
stretch of highway . "That's a huge market," said Mrs. Arsenault. It's a market
that is probably big enough to support employing a student for the summer
months, further contributing to the local economy.

"This is an example of a community business loan working to benefit both the
business owner and the local community," said Economic Renewal Minister Ross
Bragg. "Mrs. Arsenault uses locally-made crafts, provides a popular retail service,
and by harnessing the tourism market in the summer, hopes to provide
employment, too." he said.
Contact: Joe Cottreau
         (902) 424-3970
                                       January 27, 1995

The tremendous initial response indicates the barn at Marshy Hope is actually on
firm ground.