Even though there are less than 10,000 people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, business is booming.
It is, at least, for entrepreneurs who identified distinct gaps in the town’s services, and jumped at the opportunity to fill them.
Business owners in the community will tell you that responding to specific needs and providing good quality work and service is enough to keep you going.
Terry Whey is one of them.
He took his shoe repair business to Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 1992 after learning the town was in need of one.
Because he was moving from St. John’s to a rural area, he was able to get a hand setting up shop from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
We don’t go looking for work. It just keeps coming in the door.– Terry Whey
The shoe repair shop was busy, but after a little while he learned customers were often looking for specific canvas products that weren’t locally available.
That’s when Whey’s focus shifted into manufacturing canvas tents and knapsacks, and Terry’s Tents was born.
“We don’t go looking for work. It just keeps coming in the door,” Whey said.
“I think people have seen our products and they’re happy with them, and then they just tell their friends … and sometimes good products just sell themselves.”
Whey works six days a week and hasn’t spent a dime on marketing in the last 20 years.
The work isn’t slowing down, but he is. After 32 years, Whey is preparing for retirement.
He’s trying to find a buyer for Terry’s Tents, but if he doesn’t find one his booming business will have to close its doors, and people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay will have to look elsewhere.
Niamh Roche, meanwhile, only opened her butcher shop in 2022. But after 18 months in business, she’s ready to expand.
“We feel that we’ve kind of maxed out what we can do in our current location,” Roche said.
“I feel in order for the business to survive, it really does need to take this step. It’s a huge investment for us and it’s a huge risk, but we feel that we’ve built up a strong customer base.”
Roche believes a larger and more centralized storefront