About a year ago, my husband-to-be received a job offer in the town where he grew up. Seeing as how he had not yet graduated, and that many of the class mates from the previous graduating class still weren’t employed (unless you count Tim Hortons and McDonalds) the promise of job security and the incredible compensation package made the decision a no-brainer – not to mention that he would now be living close to his parents again, for the first time in eight years.
So, I quit my job and we packed up and set out to move from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Churchill Falls, Labrador – transitioning from a capital city of 100,000+ population, to a town of approximately 300 people.
It was scary. When I stepped off the plane I was greeted by huge swarms of black flies and mosquitoes – within a week I was so covered with fly bites that I looked as if I was suffering from shingles. There was one grocery store, which receives a shipment once a week – Thursdays. Milk, lettuce, and other produce are valuable commodities by the time Monday rolls around. There were exactly two restaurants – one which serves typical small town diner fare : hamburgers, sandwiches, pizza, breakfast, etc. The other serves pub food: mozza sticks, onion rings, fries, and wings. There are no stores. No Walmart, no shopping mall – there isn’t even a locally owned and operated department store carrying odds and ends. When I was making shopping lists for things we would need to move, Rob warned me to stock up on undergarments, shoes, stockings, and make up. I’m glad he did, as the nearest store is three hours in either direction – and once you get there, what you need might not be in stock. I’m now an expert online shopper.
There were no employment opportunities which suited my background, and English Honors bachelor with a psych minor (stop snickering). Rob’s sister and my good friend was in town for the summer, and kept me suitably occupied for those first few months. Then she left to teach for the fall and winter, temperatures dropped to somewhere between 20 and 40 below on average, and I found myself snowed it – literally and metaphorically.
Out of desperation I discovered arts and crafts. Ceramics, which were hugely popular in the 80’s, still had a loyal following in the community. There were kilns, molds and a workspace, all of which were available for use for a small membership fee. I assembled my stained glass workshop, a hobby I had pursued in St. John’s with my cousin. I discovered enormously popular DIY communities online and learned the rudiments of sewing, knitting, and felting. After a few months of experimenting, I opened an Etsy shop with the intention of starting my own business.
One day, Rob came home with a job advertisement – a part time position for a newsletter clerk. The planets aligned; I could get paid to write! I applied, interviewed and got the position. The only problem was that I HATED IT. After punching in five obligatory months, I decided that enough was enough. I quit.
So, here I am – almost right back where I started. Starting today, I’m going to work towards opening my own arts and crafts business, specializing in glass work. Over the next few months, I will be using this blog to post easy DIY’s, helpful business tips for small Canadian entrepreneurs, and more than likely my frustration as I discover why so many small businesses fail within the first few years. I will also include links to my Etsy store if I feel particularly excited about a project that I have completed.
Feel free to comment, ask questions, and share your stories and tips about the frustrations of small town life, and self employment. I look forward to meeting you – and I am really excited for the next year of my life. Enjoy the ride!