The Roost at York Harbour is a perfectly delightful shop, and I don’t say that only because I’m the daughter of one of the proprietors. I happily and shamelessly direct every Corner Brook-bound traveller I know to the Roost. Thankfully, it doesn’t even matter that I’m terrible with directions: I just say that if you drive along the southern shore of the Bay of Islands and keep on going, you can’t possibly miss it.
As a small business owner myself, I’ve given a lot of thought to what makes enterprises like the Roost so compelling. To begin with, the Roost is far more than just a “shop.” Even at just ten years old (ten already! I can hardly believe it), the Roost is an institution—not only in the community of York Harbour, but also in the broader arts and business communities of western Newfoundland. That’s because Dad, Janis, and Roy aren’t just business owners. They’re part of the scene. They live and breathe this stuff. All three are artists themselves, and I’ve hardly ever known any of them to sit still. They’re always out at the markets, in galleries, or joining in with hook-ins and workshops of all kinds. There are more projects on the go in the back rooms and basement of the Roost than you can shake a stick at, and that’s not even counting all the work they take home.
If you’ve ever met any of the Roost’s owners, you know they love nothing better than to get you talking… and talking and talking. They want to know what you think, what you’re at, where you’re from, and where you’re going, and they want to help you get there.
Because, most importantly of all for our economy and our ethics, the Roost is the sort of business that spurs and supports other businesses, whether that means other artists who sell their work at the shop or who rely on the Roost as a local supplier, or others in town who benefit from the additional visitors that the Roost brings in. The Roost quite simply makes its community a brighter and more prosperous place. And maybe that’s why it’s so bright and prosperous itself.
My own business, Brack and Brine, is also steeped in the arts, through our publishing and curatorial work. (My co-owner and friend Mark Turner is also a talented musician!) Art is work, after all—or it can be, for those who want to make it so—and it is valuable. One of the main things that Mark and I do is mobilize records, including art, to connect people with the information they need to succeed, and to get information into the hands of people who can develop its potential. That’s one of the wonderful things that art and business share: given the opportunity, art will always lead to more art, and business will always lead to more business.
As it happens, Mark and I will be in Corner Brook this October, showcasing our work on film historyin Labrador and the province; details to follow. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!