Mark’s Local Interactions #1
Welcome to the first edition of Mark’s Local Interactions.
This is the first in a series of blog posts that center around local businesses.
I am at the Feel Good Store on Germain Street chatting with the owner, Anne McShane.
If you have never ventured inside Anne’s shop, you are missing out on a real treat. The walls and shelves are overflowing with all things that make you, well, feel good – essential oils, bath bombs, beeswax candles, hand cream, body lotion, yoga mats, journals. soaps, tea, chocolate, bags of goodies – well, the list goes on.
As we are chatting, Anne has American Roots music streaming on her iPod and is happily chatting with customers as they wander through her shop and helping them with their purchases. If they ask for an item that she does not have in stock, she adds it to her list of items to order, or happily recommends another local store that may have it.
And that’s the thing about the Feel Good Store. It’s more than just a store. It has a community feel to it. And it’s no wonder. Anne is immersed in the local community, whether it be attending City Council sessions, getting involved in Saint John events or being a part of local planning.
Anne opened her store in November of 2001, and after 14 years in business, she still looks forward to opening her door every day. I asked her what success meant to her. Her simple, yet honest response, was “being happy”. And happy she is.
Anne never thought she would be the type of person to open a business, but she did eventually start keeping a list of items that she thought she might like to sell if she ever did. Call it dreaming, planning, or just one of those things that many us think about doing, but that list eventually evolved into “The Feel Good Store”.
The name of the store actually came from a Saturday night brainstorming session with some of her girlfriends. Being into wellness (which wasn’t even really a “thing” at that time) she talked about opening a store that sold things that made people feel good, but didn’t know what to call it. When someone said “why not call it The Feel Good Store” she knew she had the name.
She approached her current employer at the time, whom she had previously opened a retail store for, and let him know that she would be moving on. A month later, after finding a some available space on Germain Street, the Feel Good Store opened it’s doors for the first time.
Anne generally starts her day around 7 AM. She spends the first couple of hours preparing the shop for business, checking the news, catching up on social media, and, of course, getting ready for the coffee crowd at 9:00. The rest of the day is spent looking after her many customers, or, as Anne puts it “hanging out with people”.
And that’s exactly what’s it’s like at the Feel Good Store. It’s not just her livelihood, but a place where she interacts with people, a part of the business that she obviously loves. In Anne’s words “We get to be part of peoples lives. It makes us feel extremely grateful”.
Anne is certainly a big part of the store that customers love. But on Saturdays, Dawn Robichaud enters the picture, running the store with her own personality and knowledge. Anne is very quick to point out that “the store is a better place because Dawn is here”.
When asked about how she promotes her business, Anne jokes about the “goofy” radio ads she ran when she first opened. These days she focuses on social media and word of mouth.
“People are awesome to me”, she says. “Take care of people and they’ll take care of you”.
I asked Anne about her hobbies. With a bit of a chuckle, she said “I pick up new hobbies all the time, and I stick with them for about a year. I’m going to retire as the nutty lady with the eclectic hobbies”.
I also asked Anne about who inspired her the most. After a pause, she smiled, eyes gleaming, and said “my grandfather” (who, by the way, was the mayor of Sussex Corner for many years). In fact, she often finds herself referencing him in conversation. She particularly remembers his integrity, which has obviously rubbed off on her. She fondly remembers that “he wouldn’t speed because he had to set an example”.
As any business owner knows, running a business is hard. When I asked her how she managed her work/life balance, she smiled, and, in typical Anne fashion, said “I’m supposed to manage that?”
It’s no surprise that the Feel Good Store has been in business as long as it has. Anne’s winning personalty, business acumen, and her love for Saint John shine through. When asked about what motivates her to stay in business, her response was “People still like it. I feel like I can still add value”.
The next time you are uptown, take a few minutes to drop in to see Anne or Dawn. This gem on the Germain Street Quality Block is one of the things that makes Saint John great.
After all, with a motto of “If it doesn’t feel good, it’s not worth doing”, how can you resist?
Mark Pridham is the owner of The Pridham Group, a digital agency based in Saint John, New Brunswick.
A life long resident of Saint John, Mark is passionate about supporting and promoting local businesses.