News Release Archive


June, 1995 was a bleak month for Sydney's Dennis Khattar. Sales
were dismal at the Lobster Trap Gift Shop in Louisbourg.

As he sat in his building surrounded by Island giftware, he
worried about the summer. "I went through June thinking,
yesterday one customer, today no one . . . to be honest I
wondered if I was going to be able to pay my bills," he said.

Less than a year later, in April 1996, Mr. Khattar was in Halifax
at the World Trade and Convention Centre, accepting the Economic
Renewal Agency's Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the
$1,000 scholarship that goes with it. His careful planning had
paid off and the lonely June days proved to be the calm before
the storm.

When he applied for a $2,000 Youth Entrepreneurial Skills (YES)
loan from the Economic Renewal Agency in the spring of 1995, he
was a YES veteran. Two years earlier he and a couple of his grade
12 high school friends used YES to finance a car cleaning centre.
The business was fairly successful. "It went OK," he says. "I was
younger and not as focused then," he said.

He worked in Louisbourg in the summer of 1994. The talk of the
town was the upcoming Fortress of Louisbourg 250th anniversary
celebrations in 1995, and a visit from the tall ships. About one
million people were expected to converge on Louisbourg the next

So in the fall of 1994, Dennis started planning. He researched
tourist visitation records back to 1971. He found that tourism
numbers in Louisbourg followed a pattern of rising for four or
five years and then dropping back for one. Louisbourg looked set
for a record summer in 1995.

Khattar used a $2,000 YES loan and $1,900 from the Enterprise
Cape Breton Corporation's (ECBC) careers program, for start-up
capital. "Even with that I had to do a lot of sweet talking to
get credit for my t-shirts, sweaters, glasses, plates, steins and
other tourism-related stock," he said.

He built a $1,200 mini-barn, decorated it with some lobster nets
and traps, and opened The Lobster Trap Gift Shop in June. He owed
$6,800 for stock. He had 30 days to pay.

His nervousness after a quiet June was understandable. However,
his fortunes changed and his predictions came true on July 1. On
that one day, he sold more than he had sold in the whole month of
June. He broke even in the second week of July.

"After the tall ships event, I paid off my loans . . . it was all
profit," he said. It was also steady work. The 16-hour days,
seven days a week, were worth it. Dennis generated sales of more
than $20,000, before closing after the first week of September.

"Smart planning on Dennis's part allowed him to take advantage of
two highly-publicized events. He knew who his customer was and
went for it," said Economic Renewal Minister Richie Mann. "It's
those kind of ideas and attitudes that the YES program supports

When asked about his future, Dennis is optimistic. He worked for
ECBC as a career program field officer in the summer of 1996, and
is finishing his degree in business finance and administration at
the University College of Cape Breton.

"I'll own my business one day. I've always wanted my own
restaurant, although it's slim profits and long hours," he says.

Whatever he does, it will benefit from his award-winning YES
experience. "It enables you to follow though on a business idea,"
he explained.

His advice is: "Go for it Where else can you get an interest-free
loan and some early business experience?"

For information on the YES loan program for students is available
from the Economic Renewal Agency (toll-free) at 1-800-565-2009.


Contact: Steve Fairbairn  902-424-5836

trp                        Nov. 29, 1996 - 10:25 a.m.