The secret of their success

Chamber’s top entrepreneur and business agree: it’s about customer service and quality

2008 Entrepreneur of the Year
Shannon Ryan
The Garden Gate Gifts & Florals
15 Ontario St. S., beside New Orleans Pizza
Opened March 2007

“I think people wish Grand Bend were a more intimate town like Bayfield,” Ryan says. “I wish there were more stores like this that would draw a different age group than already comes here faithfully every summer.”

“Renovating the store was a huge challenge. So was trying to source the products that I wanted and trying to figure out what customers wanted before I got here.

What does it take to be a successful entrepreneur?
“We definitely strive for the best customer service possible, and the best quality product. Listen to your customers, and if they come in and say so-and-so has this product for this amount, try to source it for that price. It’s also important to be able to have an appreciation for your staff so they’ll give the same customer service when you’re not there.”

About winning the award:
“After they called my name, I said to the president, Are you sure? I was so nervous I couldn’t say anything. I’ve been dreaming of what I would have said, and I would have thanked my staff because I couldn’t do it without them.
“It’s just been such an exciting adventure, from finding the building and painting, to finding staff and learning how to use the till.
“I’d like to say thank you to the people who nominated me, to my girls, and to my family and husband who gave me that little kick that I needed to finally get out and do it.
“I wish I had done this earlier.”

2008 Business of the Year
Grandpa Jimmy’s Scottish Bakery
Bob & Ruth Hosford
36 Ontario St. N. since May 2008, previously at Dale’s Antique Market on Hwy. 21 S.

What does it take to succeed in Grand Bend?
Bob: “Customer service and quality are both on the same level. Be nice to people and helpful, and get to know your customers.”
Ruth: “Uniqueness. We have something no one else has. We appeal to the Scottish/Irish community, but we find a lot of Canadians trying our product and really liking it.”

About winning the award:
Ruth: “We were told one day by Carol MacDougall that we had been nominated and that in itself was a huge surprise, and we were floored, really, because this is what we do.
“This is our work, this is our business. We weren’t expecting any honours for it. We were totally overwhelmed. We didn’t realize we had so much support behind us.”