I’m sorry, I really don’t mean to complain.
But I shouldn’t have to apologize for choosing to open Nougat & Nectarine on St. Laurent Boulevard, in a charming turn of the century building between St. Norbert and Sherbrooke Street, right next to the thriving Just For Laughs Festival head quarters and just steps from the many offices of the main and downtown. It seemed like an ideal location.
I still have big dreams for Nougat & Nectarine and I believe in my project. I worked for 2 years on the business plan, which I have modified and refined over time, taking into account the neighbor hood where I chose to set up shop.
The boutique will be 1 year old on Sunday, June 5, 2016. Over the course of our first year, so many of you have come to see me, buy our products and admire the shop. Thank you.
My plans for Nougat & Nectarine go way beyond those of a little sweet shop. Alongside our delectable sweets and delicious sandwiches, we also offer a corporate program. We deliver breakfast (freshly squeezed orange juice, pastries, fruit kebabs and filter coffee), lunch ( salads, sandwiches, platters, etc.) and bite sized deserts for events as well as customized confectionery gifts.The boutique itself can also be rented out for special events for which we happily cater breakfast or a light snack. Nougat & Nectarine is more than a one trick pony.
But since January, business has fallen by over 50%. Massive construction work on the street blocks the way to the boutique and deters passersby from coming in.
I’ve been told that the work is being done in order to accommodate the “Cirque les 7 doigts de la Main” who will be moving in November 2016. I’ve been promised that their arrival will bring increased traffic to the street and therefore more people to the shop. It should even change the neighbor hood for the better. But meanwhile, the sidewalk in front of the boutique has been blocked since December 2015 and it’s practically impossible for customers to get to the shop.
You can imagine that this drastic drop in foot traffic has had a terrible impact on sales. I have had to stretch myself to the limit in order to not close up shop and keep the business alive. I continue to work several hours a week as an advertising producer (my old profession) just to have a base revenue, I’ve expanded our corporate offerings, I manage the shop’s social media to increase visibility, I make deliveries to my corporate clients as well as for special events 7 days a week, all the while continuing to develop new products.
I put a lot of time and energy into Nougat & Nectarine’s corporate offerings. It is because of our corporate clients that the shop is able to survive and I am very grateful. But I am exhausted.
I’m not sure if the local residents are just disinterested or if they don’t know were to find us. The trucks and containers completely hide the shop from view. We’ve distributed over 4000 flyers in the area with no increase in clientele. So we have now resorted to social media to get the word out.
We have made a social commitment to the neighborhood. Every week we give cupcakes to Native Friendship Center, we participated in the community radio station CIBL’s Christmas event without counting the many smaller events we have donated sweets to since opening.
It takes a colossal amount of effort to keep Nougat & Nectarine afloat. I hope that by working hard, by loving what I do, by using my social and professional networks, by thinking outside of the box , that I will find the means of keeping my dream project alive.
Even though it’s hard, I refuse to give up. I have tears in my eyes every morning when I am faced with the sight of the dusty trucks in front of the boutique and the blocked, empty sidewalk. A year ago there were between 500-1000 people passing by my door daily, now there is just noise and rubble. I have pleaded with the city and have spoken to the construction site’s project manager and I’m not even allowed to post a sign to tell customers we are open!
Mayor Denis Coderre, who is also district mayor, does nothing, because it’s a private project. What do you bet that he’ll be at the Cirque opening in November taking selfies and tweeting about how he has the development of Montreal businesses at heart? Meanwhile, so many small shops are struggling to survive or worse, are about to close.
Thanks for hearing me out. I hope one day soon to be able to welcome you into a dust free, noise free, construction zone free Nougat & Nectarine. Until then, I promise I’ll continue to fight to bring you delectable products and great service.