By Joshua Billington – Small Business Development Center
Mary and Tim Johnson of Pickford took over the leases for the two gift shops by the Museum Ship Valley Camp and the Soo Locks Boat Tours this past June. Tim a Retired Navy Veteran and Mary who has over 20 years of retail experience finally were able to make their dreams come true by opening their own business! So far this summer, business has been fantastic!
The two were off to a rocky start when their hopes to own a Portage Avenue Building fell through, but the duo persevered and were able start with two locations rather than just one. Recently, just in time for Engineers Day, another retail location on Portage opened up. The two, along with their son Frankie, worked tirelessly until 4am to get the new store opened. Though late In the year for ordering gift-shop Inventory, Mary and Tim were able to fill the three locations with the help of Jeff Holt at The Sault EDC by leasing space in the Incubator building to get though the season. So far this year, Tim and Mary have shattered sales from previous years.
Tim and Mary’s Portage Avenue Location, in front of The Lockview Hotel, will be open year-round and offers very unique “woodsy” gifts. A few of the very popular sellers are her hand made, Canadian Aboriginal moccasins, very soft blankets with matching pillows and plush Bear, Moose and Deer Rugs. The shop also features Canadian maple syrup in all sorts of gift sizes. It will be great to have another year-round business open on West Portage!
Mary and Tim are very grateful to the SBDC and all the economic development partners that helped them realize their dream and get open in time for The Soo’s Tourist Season. They have generously donated 2 Plush Bear and Deer rugs to the Main Street Organization to help with fundraising efforts!