SUMMERSIDE – Homestead Antiques, Gifts and Gardens is undergoing significant change during its off-season.
After more than a dozen years taking advantage of its namesake Holman Homestead property at the corner of Summer Street and Fitzroy Street, across from city hall, the store will return to business on April 7 as The Homestead, at 15 Water Street, just west of the MacEwen Road intersection.
The decision to relocate follows a management change, as Tami MacNeill has purchased the business from her mother, Kay Newson Rogers. Rather than pay rent, MacNeill decided to invest in property for the store, and the new location offers more visibility along a busy route.
The Homestead will occupy a converted house that reflects the ambiance provided by the former location, with several important new conveniences structured in. A wrap-around deck is currently being completed, which will offer space for display, provide access for the mobility challenged, and accommodate a screened porch for garden items. New windows along the front offer better visibility as well as an enticing view of the water.
Gardens will enhance the property, though not as extensively as was evident at the Holman Homestead, and there will continue to be plenty of available parking.
“It has created a lot of hype, and I am getting a kick out of how people are so excited about a change,” MacNeill revealed.
She said she is getting a lot of encouragement for the venture.
“Everybody I talk to feels it is a really good thing for that part of downtown…, to take an old property and do what we are doing.”
MacNeill has had an interest in the business from the very beginning, and regularly accompanied her mother on buying trips, learning what customers want and the best suppliers to meet their needs. She expects that involvement should mean that little change beyond the new façade will be noticed by customers.
“I had always hoped that I would” take over the business one day, MacNeill admitted. She had a career as an office administrator in Ottawa, while her husband, Jeff, worked as an engineer, but the lure of the Island was finally too strong to resist.
“Family and the ocean,” MacNeill humourously identified as the deciding factors in their return to the Island. The opportunity to build a new career factored strongly, as did the fact that her husband could continue his work by operating remotely, through technology from home.
MacNeill will be switching roles with her mother on future buying trips, but will be involved with day-to-day operations of the store. She is also a certified staging professional for home interior design.
Kay Newson Rogers loved the store experience – the friends who came in and meeting new people – but she is pleased with the change as it allows her to continue her profession as a real estate professional while easing into retirement years.
She said she wishes she had started the retail business when she was younger, as her daughter is now doing, but recognized that the time was right to pass it on.
“It’s a wonderful business, wonderful customers; see how much fun you can have here,” she portrayed the philosophy behind her decision to sell to her daughter.
She expects to become a frequent customer at the store, but is also looking forward to assisting her daughter on future buying trips.
No jobs will be lost in the transfer, with five full and part-time positions being maintained.
The Holman Homestead will be put up for sale. Newson Rogers noted the city has declined interest in the historic property.