Wa­ter Street busi­nesses hope for prof­itable tourism sea­son

Tourism in Carbonear grow­ing, small busi­ness own­ers ea­ger

The Compass - - News - BY CHRIS LEWIS chris.lewis@cb­n­com­pass.ca

The up­com­ing sum­mer sea­son is an ex­cit­ing one for small busi­nesses in the area, as New­found­land sees more and more tourists each year.

Tourists vis­it­ing from var­i­ous parts of the world of­ten come for the scenery and unique cul­ture, but as more small busi­nesses pop up in com­mu­ni­ties, own­ers are find­ing the an­nual tourism sea­son to be a prof­itable one.

Lo­cated on Wa­ter Street in Carbonear, the Rorke Store Mu­seum has al­ready seen its fair share of trav­el­ers de­spite only be­ing open for a cou­ple of weeks, and is ex­pect­ing a busy sum­mer.

The his­toric build­ing, which houses the “Balanc­ing the Scales” ex­hibit and show­cases var­i­ous ob­jects from New­found­land’s ties to the Labrador fish­ery and ar­ti­facts from the John Rorke and Sons mer­can­tile premises, is hard to miss. The big red and white build­ing sports an older ar­chi­tec­tural style not quite as com­mon today.

Mu­seum cu­ra­tor Florence But­ton says this helps at­tract tourists to the area who may not be fa­mil­iar with New­found­land, or are in­ter­ested in learn­ing more about its his­tory. The ceil­ing is built us­ing pieces of old fish­ing ships, and the floor­boards have sto­ries to tell be­fore tourists even get be­yond the en­trance of the mu­seum.

But­ton said that tourism in Carbonear has seen a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease over the past cou­ple of years, and she at­tributes this to an in­crease in sup­port for lo­cal and small busi­nesses.

“It seems like now, more than ever, peo­ple are ex­cited about small busi­nesses in their lo­cal area,” said But­ton. “They re­ally push the idea of sup­port­ing those busi­nesses and help­ing them get off their feet, and be­cause of that, I think we’re see­ing more and more peo­ple open­ing up their own busi­nesses. Es­pe­cially here on Wa­ter Street. Not only is it good for tourism, but it boosts the lo­cal econ­omy as well, and that’s al­ways a great thing.”

But­ton added that Wa­ter Street’s his­toric look helps at­tract tourists, who she ad­mits are likely not com­ing to New­found­land for a big city feel and more likely vis­it­ing to get away

from such things, thus in­tro­duc­ing them­selves to the more ru­ral feel of small-town New­found­land.

“We get peo­ple come in here, as well as in our other ex­hibits, from all over. We get peo­ple from the US, Europe, and of course other parts of Canada, and al­most ev­ery time they in­tro­duce them­selves, they say some­thing about how they love the feel and at­mos­phere of places like this,” Florence told The Com­pass. “I think it’s a breath of fresh air, es­pe­cially for peo­ple who spend their lives in big cities, who never re­ally get the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence such rich cul­ture like the town of Carbonear has.”

As was men­tioned by But­ton, small busi­nesses on Wa­ter Street in Carbonear are a com­mon sight. Restau­rants, art gal­leries, and shops, which tend to take over his­tor­i­cal build­ings, all dot the street.

One such busi­ness is Hot Line Café, a restau­rant with a 1950s theme that opened ear­lier this year.

Pauline Yet­man is the owner of the busi­ness, and she says the up­com­ing tourism sea­son is some­thing she’s look­ing for­ward to.

“It’s ex­cit­ing, know­ing that Wa­ter Street is such a pop­u­lar place for tourists, and for good rea­son,” said Yet­man. “Any­one who takes a walk down this street can see for them­selves how lively it is, and I’m sure they won’t be dis­ap­pointed.”

Yet­man says busi­ness at her café, which oc­cu­pies the for­mer tele­phone ex­change build­ing, has been boom­ing.

Yet­man feels as though the 50s theme and unique vibe of the café is a ma­jor fac­tor be­hind the its suc­cess thus far, not­ing that vis­i­tors to the café tend to break out into dance on the pa­tio, backed by mu­sic from Elvis Pres­ley and other pop­u­lar artists of the era.

Yet­man also ex­plained that small busi­nesses, es­pe­cially on Wa­ter Street, tend to have a close re­la­tion­ship, and cus­tomers at one lo­ca­tion will of­ten be sent down the street to visit other pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions.

“I think ev­ery­one who runs a busi­ness here on Wa­ter Street is go­ing to have a good sea­son,” added Yet­man, “be­cause, you know, peo­ple come to places like Carbonear, or Har­bour Grace, for the small-town New­found­land ex­pe­ri­ence, and that’s what they’re go­ing to get here on Wa­ter Street. I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing where peo­ple come from and what sto­ries they have to tell. This is go­ing to be my first sum­mer op­er­at­ing on Wa­ter Street, so I’m sure it’ll be lovely.”

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Wa­ter Street in Carbonear is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for tourists, and busi­ness op­er­a­tors in the area say that the sense of fam­ily be­tween busi­ness own­ers on the street adds to the wel­com­ing feel­ing.

CHRIS LEWIS/THE COM­PASS

Hot Line Café takes pride in the back pa­tio, with a view that owner Pauline Yet­man says at­tracts tourists and lo­cals alike.

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