Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia, a local gift shop, is celebrating 42 years in Halifax and because of locals, the retailer has survived the pandemic and continues to thrive.
Located at 5635 Spring Garden Road, the gift shop products are all locally made and the retailer will continue to grow its maritime collection which currently includes 256 local suppliers.
“We always have new local products coming in. The items we carry includes handmade pottery, knit wear, wools, glass, there is a lot of glass that we carry. There are also all kinds of edible products, like maple syrup, jams, saltwater toffee, and more,” says Kurt Bulger the owner of Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia.
Originally the shop was located near Peggy’s Cove, but two years after opening it moved to Spring Garden Road in Halifax and has been there for 40 years now. In terms of popular products, they “get a lot of hits on their saltwater toffee,” says Bulger. Customers can find a selection of products including pottery, gift sets, candles, home décor, jewelry, books, food, apparel for the whole family, and maritime keepsakes.
Roadblocks and Obstacles
Due to the travel restrictions during the pandemic, the business along with others lost their tourism income. However, Bulger learned the East Coast locals really had his back. Bulger said 70 percent of their customers are local buyers and 30 percent are tourist, so during the pandemic they were only seeing about 65 percent of that with no tourist in town.
“That just proves the locals have been supporting us,” says Bulger
On top of the struggles that already came with the pandemic, last summer the city decided to close the street for construction, making it an additional obstacle to bring in customers. And now, Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia is hoping to have a normal wave of both local and tourism customers; however, they will possibly be facing another issue down the road as the city is looking to make Spring Garden Road only accessible for transit, biking, and walking.
“There is nothing we can do, there is no doubt we will survive but it is just how much we thrive. We have an online store to reach out but there is nothing we can do to get the customer here anymore than we can,” says Bulger. “It is 42 years of our reputation, we will see if the customer will continue to find a way to us even though the city is making it more and more difficult by taking out parking, putting in bike lanes, and restricting where you can drive.”
First Summer of Tourism
As this is the first summer of no restrictions for travel, Jennifer’s of Nova Scotia is trying to prepare by hiring more staff, a task that is becoming difficult.
“We have been trying to hire staff now for the last six months and it has been hard,” says Bulger. “We usually function with about 13 employees, but now we are functioning with 7. It has been a lot of work and we are trying to get staffed up again, but it has been difficult.”
Even with the obstacles this store has faced, they are excited to welcome in the wave of tourists and are hoping locals will continue to support them.
“The purchases from the locals kept us going through the pandemic. So, God bless the locals,” says Bulger. “It is now a strategy of ours to try and become more of a Nova Scotia giftshop, not just a tourism shop. We will just continue what we have been doing happily for the last 42 years and continue to grow.”