Sole proprietor: cobalt's only retailer enjoys success.Business owner Connie Boyd isn't daunted by the distinction of being Cobalt's only retailer. The Silver Moccasin moccasin, in footwear
moccasin, skin shoe worn by indigenous people of North America, excepting the sandal wearers of the Southwest area. There were two general types of moccasins, the hard-soled, which was used in the Eastern woodlands and the Southeast opened on the town's main street - Silver Street - in 2007 and she hasn't looked back since.
Her array of native inspired artwork, jewelry and hand-made moccasins and mukluks have attracted local and regional customers to the store and worldwide customers through her online business.
"Lots of people think I am crazy but I look forward to coming here," she said.
When she has a sale, people assume it is because she is closing.
"At least a few people ask whenever there is a sale sign if I am shutting down for good," she said. "But I am still here."
Boyd is Aboriginal and has always had an interest in native arts and crafts arts and crafts, term for that general field of applied design in which hand fabrication is dominant. The term was coined in England in the late 19th cent. as a label for the then-current movement directed toward the revivifying of the decorative arts. and painting. She worked for the Metis Council in Haileybury and was instrumental in opening up a native gift shop as a means for raising funds for the council. The office and shop eventually had to close and she decided to open up a similar store in Cobalt where she and her husband live.
"I had established relationships with the suppliers and the native community in the region and there wasn't a similar store anywhere in the area," she said.
When the store opened, she also established her website but it took a few years to get noticed.
"I had to figure out Google ads and it was a steep learning curve. But once I did, and capitalized on it, it made a huge difference in online sales," she said. "I have customers all over the world."
The moccasins are made by herself, a native artisan in northwestern Quebec and from Aboriginal-owned companies in Canada.
"A few of the novelties I sell are not Canadian made but the rest are and authentically native. People are fussy and expect items like moccasins and mukluks to be made in Canada Made in Canada may also mean Country of origin.
Made in Canada is a Canadian television situation comedy which aired on the CBC from 1998 to 2003. In the United States, France, Australia and Latin America, the show was syndicated as The Industry. ," Boyd said.
The store attracts regular clientele from the immediate area and those from Timmins, Kirkland Lake Kirkland Lake, mining town, E Ont., Canada. An important gold-mining center, gold was discovered there in 1911 and again in the 1980s at Harker. The mining of iron ore and tourism are two other important industries. , North Bay and the native community in northwestern Quebec.
"My biggest sellers are moccasins and mukluks," she said.
Her Metis products, like sashes, are also popular online purchases which she sells across Canada and the U.S. and often in large quantities at a time.
As for the location in Cobalt, Boyd said the overhead is lower than it would be elsewhere and she can walk to work. The post office is a few buildings away so shipping orders is hassle free.
"I just pile everything on a cart and wheel it down," she said. "It doesn't get easier than that."
Her store is open Monday to Friday and she is the only one working. But she envisions starting a cultural program where visits can be made to schools and groups, and drum making and other native crafts can be taught.
"I do get requests to go to schools and Ihave done it but I really don't have the time," Boyd said.
She is hoping her sister can join her at the store and possibly begin the cultural aspect she wants to initiate.
"I need someone familiar with my products and our heritage if I were to go ahead with that," she said.
And despite being the sole employee, Boyd does take time off for holidays.
"I take the week off between Christmas and New Year's and I am planning to take some time in the summer. But I like what I am doing and it doesn't feel like work to me."
By LIZ LIZ Elizabeth
LIZ Leather Institute of Zimbabwe COWAN
Northern Ontario Business Northern Ontario Business is a Canadian magazine, which publishes monthly in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The magazine covers business news and issues in Northern Ontario.