McMurrian Media caught up with Melanie Ference Owner of Chocolates & Candle Light here in Fort McMurray!
If you haven't been to visit their store yet they are located at 108 Riverstone Ridge #106 and are open 10 AM - 10 PM 7-days a week.
Hold the fort; Fort McMurray's newest martial arts academy "The Fort Martial Arts" has opened its doors.
Slip on the slippers, pull on the robe, grab your glass of champagne and get ready to unwind with Alethea Austin co-founder and CEO of Achieve Wellness Spa.
Whether you're looking to get a hot shave, a quick trim or a completely new hairstyle owner Ali Kdouh and the team at The Thickwood Barber Shop have got you covered.
When one door closes another door opens; local business owner Keith Coleridge is picking up the pieces after Greyhound closure.
Many Greyhound passengers were left stranded last October when the company announced they would be ending their service across the prairies.
Local business owner Keith Coleridge is picking up the pieces with his company's KM Courier and Cold Shot Parcel and Bus Services. Located at 345 Sakitawaw trail; they offer passenger bus services, overnight delivery & in town courier services.
MM: So how did you decided to start your business?
Keith: My business started by fluke I guess, I answered an ad in the newspaper and taking opportunities one after another that we're put in front of us over the last 12 years.
We started with Red Arrow and rented a van from them per month; then we grew to two vans after six months and eventually went to Greyhound as their agent managers until they closed last fall.
A new company Cold Shot, a bus company that is basically our infrastructure was left behind from Greyhound in Edmonton; the same as I was in Fort McMurray. Instead of folding with Greyhound they decided to start a small bus company and replace Greyhound so we became their partner in Fort McMurray.
MM: I didn't realize you guys move people as-well as freight?
Keith: Yes, we are moving passengers and freight similar to what Greyhound did. We're just using smaller equipment our busses are smaller but we are priced comparable to Greyhound. We're just trying to fill the void that Greyhound left behind.
MM: Are there some struggles you find after you've separated from Greyhound?
Keith: We're trying to make people aware that we are here, it's basically the same business just a new name. It's relatively the same people; it's my wife and I running cold shot vs. running Greyhound. It's still the same driver on the road doing delivery and pickups in town. For the most part, the people that were doing the leg work in Edmonton for Greyhound; are still in place, they are just working for a different company.
MM: How long have you been in this building?
Keith: Since Greyhound closed, they closed their doors downtown October 31st and we opened here November 1st. We've been growing day by day and adding new products and services.
MM: Other than getting the word out and letting people know you are here; is there anything you would like the public to know about your business?
Keith: For people doing any outdoor activities like quading or snowmobiling, because of the fire and that situation there are no more dealerships in town so you have to get parts from Edmonton. Well, we can have them here overnight ready for pick up at 6 am. Nobody else in town can offer this service.
Fort McMurray's favourite local pub Paddy McSwiggins is getting ready to serve up pints, wings and good times with Gareth Norris.
Paddy McSwiggins has been the quintessential local pub here in Fort McMurray for the past twenty years.
Paddy's is currently undergoing some major renovations organized by Billy Martin and some fifteen local businesses that have donated time and materials to help Paddy McSwiggins' owner Gareth Norris get the doors to this beloved pub open.
Gareth has assured me that they haven't changed the recipe to their famous wings and will have plenty available on opening day.
MM: Are you originally from Fort McMurray or like so many of us, moved here from else ware?
Gareth: Originally born in the UK Cardiff in Wales; my parents immigrated in 1982 and I've been here since. Fort McMurray has been home since I was 14.
MM: Did you always know you wanted to own a Pub?
Gareth: No idea, I grew up in the pub trade my parents had pubs in the UK; so I guess maybe it is in my blood. I just felt Fort McMurray was missing that authentic pub atmosphere; the opportunity arose and I took it.
MM: How long was Paddy McSwiggins in business prior to the 2016 Forest fire?
Gareth: Eighteen years; so this past October was our twenty year anniversary, two years we were, of course, closed because of the fire.
MM: Now you're in the process of reopening do you have a set date we can look forward to?
Gareth: It's very fluid, there's no pressure. I have surgery April 30th in Calgary so I'd like to know we were open before then. The running joke with the guys is if I die on the operating table I'll come back and haunt them.
MM: Is there anything new we can look forward to?
Gareth: It's a different layout, we have snugs now which gives a very traditional pub feel. There a bit hard to explain but they're like a booth that's enclosed with an open front. We have seven snugs in the pub now we have them set up for sponsorship so you can have one named after your company.
MM: You've had a bit of a hard time opening up the pub after the fire can you tell me a little bit about your experience?
Gareth: We got financing for about 60 percent of the build and we're struggling to come up with the other 40 percent. We've been paying commercial rent on an empty building for two years. That's when Billy Martin approached me and said I have guys that are willing to help and provide materials.
MM: The fire obviously put you back and was not expected by anybody; but are there any other struggles you've found having a business in Fort McMurray?
Gareth: There is always the cost of doing business in Fort McMurray, the argument is everyone makes more money here but that's not necessarily true. Most businesses that are independent are a bit of a luxury item you don't have to come to Paddys and have a pint, you can buy a bottle of beer and go home. So a lot of the small businesses here offer services that are one of the first things to come out of your budget when things get tight; that's where we see the struggles.
MM: What are some things your really proud of with your business?
Gareth: I have to say I really do love Fort McMurray, it has given me more opportunity than anywhere else in the world could. This is definitely the land of opportunity if you're not afraid of hard work and risk, this town will make you.
Pastrami and Salami and Pepperoni, oh my! Making sandwiches with Billy Martin owner of Sweet Meats Sandwich bar.
Sweet Meats Sandwich Bar is serving up mouth-watering sandwiches like, Italian Melts with Genoa and Gypsy Salami, Prosciutto, Capocollo, Asiago Cheese, Garlic Aoli, Lettuce, Tomato & Onion, on a garlic toasted Kaiser Bun. If that doesn't make your mouth water I don't know what will.
MM: Are you originally from Fort McMurray?
Billy: No, I moved here from San Francisco but I'm from the Okanagan; I moved here in 2001 just after 9/11.
MM: What makes you stay in Fort McMurray?
Billy: At first the money. My first week here I said to myself ' I'll just get one check then I'm going back to Kelowna'. Everyone is in the same boat here; most of us have moved from somewhere else. It makes it really easy to reach out and make friends, so after a couple of years, Fort McMurray just becomes home.
MM: What are some of your favourite things about living in Fort McMurray?
Billy: The people! The giving nature of the community.
MM: You're involved with a lot of charity events around town can you tell me how you got involved?
Billy: I lost my dad in January 2014; his birthday was May 7th and I just wanted to do better for him.
I heard about a little girl; Chloe Kroeger from my home town in Penticton. We had never met but she was a four-year-old girl with terminal cancer.
I had come across the story and I just felt I needed to raise this family money.
I put together a concert at Paddy McSwiggins and we raised the family close to thirty grand. We decided to call it ' Chloes miracle trip to Newfoundland ' and we sent her to meet her family in Newfoundland. She ended up taking a turn for the worse; she couldn't fly home and she ended up passing away in Newfoundland. It was the saddest thing I've ever had to deal with.
In 2017, I was tagged in a post about a sick little girl; Lilly Morgan here in Fort McMurray. We put on a little event at the Newfoundland Club it was pretty short notice I only had a couple of weeks to plan it. We ended up raising five thousand dollars; it helped but it didn't make a huge impact. I felt like I wanted to do more; I knew what I was able to do for Chloe and knew I could do more for them.
I had this great idea to renovate their house while they were away on the make a wish trip.
We were able to pull off Extreme Makeover - Fort McMurray edition. I planned it, but it was Fort McMurray that made it happen. We had 118 companies and many individuals donate. Since we finished the renovations Lilly hasn't had to have any emergency trips to the hospital.
Through that, I met Gareth Norris who owns Paddy McSwiggins, almost the same scenario a couple of beer in I called him and said I bet you I can help.
MM: How did you decide to open Sweet Meats?
Billy: There's a deli called Il Vecchio's in Penticton; there's always been a running joke that I should open a Bill Vecchio's. There's always that one food place when you go home where you go first. That's what Il Vecchio's was to me.
I call it a mid-midlife crisis I just woke up one morning and sold everything I owned and decided to take the plunge.
Sweet Meats announced this morning that they are opening a second location in Gregoire at Summit GM, making it even easier for those folks south of the bridge to get their hands on some delicious sandwiches!
Moving boulders, lifting cars and throwing kegs with Rosa Trueman and Leif Palsen from Crude Strength and Performance.
We've all heard the term strongman, whether it invokes images of historical men at the circus wearing a leopard print leotard and sporting a handlebar mustache or a more modern strongman hauling a fridge on their back. The biggest piece of information I took away from this interview was that it's very inclusive; members range from every gender, size, weight, and age.
Leif and Rosa graciously invited me into their gym and were incredibly welcoming as they talked to me about the history behind their business.
MM: How did you come up with the concept of your business and decide that you wanted to start a business here in Fort McMurray?
Leif: It was almost by no choice, I've been involved with Strongman since 2005. In 2009 I moved to Fort McMurray and started collecting equipment for my own gym. We really needed a larger place to train; at one point I had 15 people at one-time training in my home gym. 2017 is when I officially opened Crude Strength Performance. We moved into the bay next to Cross Fit Crude and we tried to expand what they were doing already.
Rosa: It was still very niche, mostly the guys that trained in Leif's basement. We started getting more people interested not just strongman but powerlifting and Olympic lifters; who just wanted to get out of the commercial gyms and have a spot dedicated to what they were training to do.
MM: What is a struggle you've run into having a business in Fort McMurray?
Rosa: Getting the word out, being next to the CrossFit gym people thought we were CrossFit. A lot of people think 'oh I can't do that'. So we started doing a couple of women's nights and different events to encourage people to try it.
MM: What is something you are really proud about with your business?
Rosa: The community! Everyone is so accepting, its completely inclusive, there’s no judgment.
If you are interested in strongman training but are unsure whether its right for you, Crude Strength and Performance holds event training every Saturday, they invite you to come out and try it.
Crude Strength and Performance is looking for personal trainers interested in running their own business out of their facility. Trainers pay a monthly fee for unlimited access to our 24/7 facility for training clients.