A social enterprise in Saint John is hoping to fill a gap in the city’s tourism market with its new venture.
Impact Market, a social enterprise run by the Saint John Learning Exchange, will be opening a second, seasonal location, in Fallsview Park, at the Saint John Adventures zip line near the reversing Falls.
The Market, which is currently based out of the Social Enterprise Hub in uptown Saint John, carries products that fall somewhere within four categories: social, environmental, cultural, and local. Fifty per cent of all profits are reinvested in removing barriers to employment through education and training.
The idea to open the additional location came when the Learning Exchange reached out to Discover Saint John about ways to get more tourists to visit the Impact Market. Getting tour buses to stop there was out of the question, but Victoria Clarke, executive director of Discover Saint John had another idea.
“I said ‘you know what? We have a gap at the Fallsview property. We have an excellent business in the Saint John Adventures zip line. We have really incredible visibility and access to the Reversing falls phenomenon…there is now a pavilion where you can have a lunch, and there are bathrooms,'” says Clarke.
“But I said, ‘I think that people are going there, wouldn’t it be great if somebody could get a pop or a coffee or a keychain. If you think that’s in your capabilities, that would be great … You’re going to tick a lot of boxes for me and for the city if that’s something you can make happen.’ “
Thanks to the help of community partners like Alantra Leasing, Saint John Energy and Area 506, it was something the Saint John Learning Exchange could make happen. The store should be open by the end of August and operate at the Fallsview location during the city’s peak cruise season this fall.
The second location will allow the Impact Market to raise awareness of their social mission and grow its customer base. This will also add another layer of customer service training for the participants..
“For the Saint John Learning Exchange, the second location doesn’t just mean more sales for the Impact Market but also means more training for the people they help,” says Mandy Burke Evans, social enterprise developer at the Saint John Learning Exchange. “The people who will be working at the new location will be those coming out the Exchange’s various programs.”
From a development perspective, Clarke says the success of the Impact Market in Fallsview will help determine if more can be done in the area.
“It’s going to tell the story about the amount of traffic that’s down there, which is huge and is relatively unknown to Saint Johners. It’s also going to tell us whether or not we need more development down there.”