Rusty Raven cozies up on familiar territory

Rusty Raven cozies up on familiar territory
Laurie Young, former director of the Northern Lights Museum, is the proud new owner of the Rusty Raven Gallery and Gifts.Photo by Meagan Wohlberg.

Fort Smith’s rustic North of 60 bookstore has a new owner, a new name and a new look - pretty much a complete makeover.

Now called Rusty Raven Gallery and Gift, the old landmark building lets loyal clientele enjoy the same cozy café environment but with a stronger focus on the arts.

“I’ve always wanted this store,” new owner Laurie Young told The Journal. “It’s an awesome building with lots of history, it’s a gathering place and people love it.”

When it came time for the former owners to sell, Young, an artist and former museum manager, made up her mind to take the risk and take it over.

The Rusty Raven features a café with fresh baked goods made by Young herself, a pared-down selection of northern and local books and a wide array of Canadian artisans’ wares, including stained glass, jewelry, purses, hand knit fuzzies, stationary and culinary aides, to name a few.

On top of that, the shop will also house Young’s framing business, Kazoodles Framing, which she previously ran from home.

With four dimensions of business on the go at once, Young has a lot of work cut out for her as the sole current employee of the Rusty Raven.

But as a self-proclaimed “workaholic,” so far she does not mind staying from 9:00 a.m. to midnight to live the dream of opening a small business outside her home.

“I just thought, I’m not getting any younger,” she said. “It’s a leap of faith, but I took it.”

Young said the encouragement and support she received from Thebacha Business Development Services, the Business Development Investment Corporation, and the GNWT department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, along with the help of family and friends, was instrumental in getting the project off the ground.

She encouraged other entrepreneurial hopefuls to use those agencies for everything from business plan development to accounting questions.

“As a small business, it’s extremely important to do strategic planning beforehand,” Young advised. “You can work hard and not succeed if you don’t have that down on paper – that something concrete to look at, the budget that you’re going to stick to or need to change. I can’t stress that enough.”

After just two weeks of being open, business is booming, said Young. She said she could not be more thrilled.

“There’s nothing more fulfilling. It’s great,” she said. “It’s my store and my future. I hope it’s bright and rosy.”

The shop’s grand opening is scheduled for November 12.

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