When Snowmageddon struck it affected local business owners like Sarah Deer, who decided joining forces against winter’s force of nature was the logical next step
Sarah Deer is Vice President at Mark’s, and while the franchised business she heads-up may seem like a mega-force to be reckoned with, when the forces of nature are at play, she and her family owned business struggle like anyone else
“We opened our doors in 1989. I was two when we opened that first store in the Village Mall,” she begins. Bigger stores and more locations followed, still, they kept their operations in the family, proudly employing many Newfoundlanders for decades. “We proudly employ our own. Ever since we started, between me and my two brothers, all of our friends have worked at the different stores, and all their friends too. We hire from the local community, always.”
Rising through the ranks
Deer herself, in the years since she’s manned the ship, has seen many children of long-time employees rise in the ranks.
“I’ve watched so many 15 years olds start here, go through school and finish their degrees. Some of them stay with us for a couple of years after they’re done their schooling. Some stay with us for life. One of the ladies working here, she’s been with us for 30 years.”
Now a mom herself, Deer hopes the tradition continues.
In the vein of family and traditions, taking care of their staff has always been important, that’s why, when the storm that shut down the Avalon struck last January, Deer and company decided to pay their employees for the pay lost due to the city’s imposed state of emergency.
“People may think, a week of business missed. That’s nothing. But it hit us hard. We chose to pay our employees, some companies could not afford to. We decided to do it, but it made a huge impact on us. Money lost in sales. Mortgage. The lease on our building. Franchise fees. And it will take us a while to recover.”
Deer says with 30 years in the rear view, she knows they will rise again, but she began to think about other business owners in the city.
Starting a movement
“I was sitting at home and I said, we struggle, but we will recover, but what about other business? It’s so important to me to see our province flourish and see the economy growing and to see people getting into business and for them to be successful I knew a week without being open, that can be detrimental.”
She reached out to other businesses interested in starting a Shop Local movement. “Shop local became a huge movement during the storm, which I love. I thought, let’s keep this movement going. Let’s keep the momentum.”
The gathered businesses came up with a passport idea that would reward those who shopped local.
“Shop at one of the participating store, get your passport stamped, and there’ll be different prizes for different levels of shopping,” she shares. All the details can be found by searching ShopLocalNF.
The program, which launches March 1st, is still open for local business to join until February 20th.
“We don’t want to exclude anybody. You just have to have just be a registered, local business who wants to participate.”
Deer says, while these past few weeks have been challenging, it’s also been eye opening in so many positive ways. “Seeing everybody coming together and trying to support one another, from city counselors to you folks at The Herald, another locally owned business, to Scott Hillyer from Coffee Matters who’s been hosting all of our meetings, to FASTSIGNS. The ideas are just flowing. It’s gonna be big and I can’t wait for it all to come into fruition.”
While so many have celebrated the coming together during an epic storm, the outpouring of support for the business community is something to also be proud of, she says.
“I love that communities came together and supported each other within their neighborhood, but I also love that the business community is coming out and supporting each other. I believe that shopping local is what’s going to save our planet and what’s going to save our economy.”
For more, including how to get your passport and for a list of participating business, visit www.facebook.com/ShopLocalNF or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.