On this week’s ‘Be Well’ blog, we decided to switch things up by passing the mic to a few of our lovely retail partners—Selby’s Bunker Coffee & Gifts in Cole Harbour and Honey & Ginger (Dartmouth and Bedford). We recently had the opportunity to interview them; to ask how they feel about local businesses serving their surrounding communities while supporting local creators, artisans and other small businesses/small business owners along the way.

Note: This is Vol. 1 of our brand new interview series. Be sure to stay tuned in the future for more Q&A’s just like this!

Without further ado, here’s what they had to say:

1. In your opinion, why is it important to serve and offer local/alternative products to smaller communities? Do you feel there is a strong market for the products you offer within the communities you serve?

Jason Selby, Owner of Selby’s Bunker Coffee & Gifts in Cole Harbour: “Supporting local artisans and entrepreneurs is important to us because… the makers, dreamers and creatives make up the character and vibrancy of our community! We try to source everything locally first before looking elsewhere – for example, in our café, our Selby’s Bunker roast is roasted right here in Nova Scotia by Joey Matthews – a fine gent I grew up a few houses down the street from.

Our baked goods and food options are delivered fresh daily from local bakeries and in our gift store, we feature products from various local makers, creatives and social enterprises featuring their work and celebrating their passion.”

Honey & Ginger (Dartmouth & Bedford): It is important for us to offer alternative products because people are increasingly turning to natural alternatives to improve health. We help our customers navigate the wide array of options by providing recommendations and advice. Our customers, in many cases, are already very knowledgeable… it’s important for our staff to be aware of new studies and products as they become available. Staff are motivated to participate in as many training opportunities as possible. The learning never stops!

Products that are produced locally are often of equal or superior quality to other similar products on the market. By supporting local, we minimize the carbon footprint and encourage small business owners to launch their ideas knowing that local retailers will be supportive. There is definitely a strong market for the products we offer in the community we serve. As the public becomes more aware of the long term health and environmental benefits of moving toward cleaner, safer and more sustainable products, we’re confident demand will continue to grow.

2. What has been the most rewarding part of being a locally-based business that serves small communities?

SB: For me, the most rewarding part is seeing people’s faces light up when they enter for the first time, and also seeing those who come every single day, supporting us, knowing that it’s not always easy being a small fish in a big corporate world.  The support of our community means everything to us and we would not be here without it.

H&G: It’s gratifying to offer safe natural solutions for people who are suffering in various ways. We have many people come to us who may be struggling physically, emotionally and mentally and they appreciate the advice and help we provide and that is a rewarding feeling. Being a small, locally owned business gives us an opportunity to focus on the unique needs of our customers. We vet new product lines with those specific needs in mind. Supporting local means we’re looking out for our neighbours, both suppliers and customers. The most rewarding part is the independence we have and the opportunity that gives us to really get to know our customers and better understand their needs.

3. Why is it so important to shop local; to invest our hard-earned dollars with locally-owned and operated businesses over big box stores?

SB: Supporting local and keeping jobs/creating jobs here in Nova Scotia is important to us. Research has shown that supporting locally owned businesses produces a multiplier effect: 48% from every dollar spent stays within the local community compared to only 13.6% by big box stores. This has a big impact! (Source: https://www.amiba.net/resources/multiplier-effect/)

H&G: Many of our customers say they would prefer to support local business if they can. We also offer a beautiful warm inviting atmosphere and personalized service that is not available in large chains. Any opportunity to support local, whether through employing qualified staff or offering locally produced products in our retail stores, is a win-win for all. Success at home allows small businesses to take advantage of growth opportunities and attract skilled team members.

4. How do you diversify yourself from other markets/shops/stores out there? What helps you to stand out from the crowd?

SB: Selby’s Bunker is the only independently owned café & gift store in Cole Harbour and we are proud to provide our customers with a locally owned community space that exists to serve them.  We also have an Airbnb right in our café called Coffee Lover’s Paradise Dartmouth where we host travellers and share with them the beauty of our community. For us, our space has always been about creating special moments for people and that includes making visitors feel right at home just as much as our neighbours and families.

H&G: Our branding is strong, our stores are visually appealing and we offer exceptional customer service. Staff genuinely care about the people that come through our doors and the customers can feel this. This creates a positive energy and our happy customers keep coming back to support us.

We also have a wellness clinic where we offer services such as naturopathic medicine, osteopathy, massage therapy, acupuncture, nutritional consulting, reflexology, reiki and spiritual therapy. Our practitioners are highly skilled and work as a team to help clients achieve optimal health and wellness. In addition, we’re able to quickly convert our retail space to classroom space where we host evening workshops and wellness talks for our Honey & Ginger Community. At our in-store “Beehive”, our customers can now purchase tea, coffee and other specialty drinks and snacks to grab and go!

We hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about these local businesses that are passionate about serving their local communities! Thanks to both Selby’s Bunker Coffee & Gifts + Honey & Ginger for agreeing to take part in this interview—we truly appreciate it! We encourage you to support local businesses whenever possible and know that they are always hard at work doing their very best to help you access the products and services that you want/need!

Check out their websites/follow their adventures on social using the links below and be sure to stop in to say hi if you find yourself in and around their neighbourhoods!

Selby’s Bunker Coffee & Gifts (Cole Harbour)

Honey & Ginger (Dartmouth & Bedford)

In health and happiness,
Team Schoolhouse


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