News Release Archive

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TOURISM--Country Crafts Shop an Eye-Catcher
Watch for the wagon on the roof of the red barn. That's what
Debbie Arsenault tells first-time visitors to her newly
incorporated craft shop, Heart n' Home Country Crafts and Gifts.

Located in Marshy Hope, halfway between Antigonish and New
Glasgow, Heart n' Home is hard to miss.

"We wanted something up there that would get people's attention,"
said Ms. Arsenault. "The wagon also represents the kind of things
you will see in the store."

An entrepreneurial spirit pervades Ms. Arsenault's family, with
everyone from her great-grandfather to her husband owning their
own businesses.

Ms. Arsenault decided to open Heart n' Home three years ago,
after working in a flower shop for five years.

"I figured, you can either work hard for someone else or you can
work hard for yourself," she said. "I always knew I wanted to be
my own boss." 

Ms. Arsenault said she wanted to create a shop with a different
atmosphere. "I wanted the store to have a really relaxed pace so
that people don't feel rushed when they stop here.

"This is the type of store that has so much in it to look at that
I just want people to take their time and browse. I didn't want
them to be pressured by a sales person as soon as they came
through the door."

Ms. Arsenault makes and supplies the store with her own
dried-flower arrangements, but she knew a wide variety of stock
is what would set her shop apart.

"I wanted a good variety of inventory so that visitors wouldn't
feel rushed to move on to the next store to find a specific
item," she said.

She also knew that having a lot of stock from the start would pay
off in the long run.

"If you don't have enough stock when you first open, people
probably won't come back. They may think that's the way it's
going to be all the time. I wanted the store to be full." 

Stock was needed, and so was the capital to buy it. Ms.
Arsenault's accountant told her about the First Step Loan of the
Community Business Loan Program, an initiative of Economic
Development and Tourism to enable small businesses to get off the

"The loan really helped me fill the store with stock," said Ms.
Arsenault. "The whole loan process was relatively easy. Lynn
Coffin (a development officer) was very supportive. She had
confidence in me from the very beginning."

Ms. Arsenault said she's frequently asked why she decided to
locate in such a rural area.

"We were going to put the shop in town (Antigonish) first," she
said. "Then I did a market survey of the number of people who
pass by on the highway (104). It showed that if we got even a
small percentage of those who passed, we would do very well.

"I think this information really helped with getting the loan,

Ms. Arsenault's research paid off. After just three years in
business, Heart n' Home will soon expand, starting with a bigger
parking lot. "On our really busy days, cars are lined up on the
side of the road."

Ms. Arsenault said she plans to expand the store as well. "I want
to add another piece at least the size of this building or bigger
so that my husband Francis can have his workshop in here -- he
does all the woodworking for the store."

Further evidence of Heart n' Home's success is the fact it
employs two others besides Ms. Arsenault. "I was working seven
days a week at one point. Now I have one full-time employee and a
part-time student employee who will be working throughout the
year," she said.

The Community Business Loan Program is available to new
businesses in the form of start-up assistance. The First Step
Loan is targeted at new ventures and can be applied to any valid
purpose, including working capital.  


Contact: Angela Campbell
         Economic Development and Tourism
NOTE TO EDITORS: Colour photos are available upon request.

ngr               Nov. 20, 1997                 12:25 p.m.