BizBeat

by Morri Mostow

 Of basements, books, bargains, and boats

If you’re looking for new home-and-garden or arts-and-crafts books that don’t cost the moon, head for the recently opened Book Cellar at Brome Lake Books. In the bright, newly renovated basement, you’ll find volumes of bargains attractively arrayed on trestle tables, shelves and in bins: a large selection of children’s titles, activity books, adult fiction and non-fiction and even second-hand books. “Our customers have been asking for more sale and used books,” says Kate Riddell, who has been working in the store since her mother, Sue Ridell, opened it three years ago.

“The Book Cellar is attracting a whole new clientele to our store,” adds assistant store manager Lucy Hoblyn McAuley, also known around town as the director of the hit musical Julie (from an original script by local thespian and playwright Roger De La Mare) and mother of four-year-old scene-stealer Angus McAuley.

Responding to customers has led owner Sue Riddell to expand into a whole new product line — classic, wooden garden furniture, manufactured by her new company Brome Lake Woodworks. A wooden garden cart with large wooden wheels ($495) is on display in The Book Cellar, doing double-duty as the display table for hobby and gardening books. A rustic garden bench with keyhole style legs will be offered next in a growing catalogue of old-style garden furniture.

Pint-size customers, who have discovered the charms of reading in the tiny, upholstered rocking chairs in the children’s book section upstairs, can have their parents buy them one for $125. Jacques Rousseau, a retired upholsterer, restores these old, child-size rockers as a hobby. In the fall, Brome Lake Woodworks will also bring out a line of handcrafted wooden toys for sale in the store.

The Book Cellar shares its new basement quarters with its mall neighbour, The King’s Attic, an upscale consignment shop. “This new space lets us display larger items like furniture, paintings and lamps,” says owner Suzanne Desormeaux. “Our customers are delighted that they can finally bring us their large pieces, which until now we were unable to take because of space limitations upstairs.”

 

The Book Cellar at Brome Lake Books and The Kings’s Attic/Le Grenier du Roi, in the Mill Pond Village at 264 Knowlton Road in Downtown Knowlton. Telephone Brome Lake Books at (450) 242-2242; The King’s Attic at (450) 243-0243.

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Par Chance, Knowlton’s newest factory-outlet shop, intends to give Wal-Mart a run for its money. “At the low prices we charge for children’s and women’s clothes, locals won’t want to shop anywhere else,” says owner Julie Zachary, who opened on Monday. “Customers will be hard pressed to find anything over $20.” As an opening special, the store will not charge sale tax.

The store carries the Krickets children’s line, and the Fairweather and La Senza lines of camisoles, shirts, dresses, pants and skirts for women. The stock will change every two weeks “so if you see something you like, buy it, because it won’t be there when you return,” says Zachary.

A stay-at-home mother of two young children, Zachary couldn’t resist jumping when opportunity knocked, hence the name of her store, Par Chance, which means “By Luck” in English. When a contact of her husband Rob Matthew, the Eastern sales manager for a U.S.-based textile manufacturer, offered her a continuous supply of quality overruns, Zachary decided it was time to return to the work world after a five-year hiatus.

Shopkeeper may be a new job description for Zachary, but she obviously thrives on challenge. A former Winnipeger, she spent her formative years in Canada’s naval reserve, where she was one of only four woman in the navy’s history to achieve Master Seaman rank in the bos’n trade. In fact, the navy is where she met her husband, Rob Matthew, whom she outranked. Matthew, originally from Montreal, is a member of the Rexford clan, an old, established Knowlton family. After marrying in St. Paul’s church in Knowlton, the couple decided to settle and raise their family in Knowlton, where they have so many relatives and friends.

 Par Chance, 25 Lakeside in Downtown Knowlton. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Telephone (450) 242-1444.

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Hats off to Bombardier Chairman Laurent Beaudoin for choosing a quiet, non-polluting motor boat — a 21.7-ft. Fantail touring launch powered by an electric inboard motor. While jogging along Knowlton’s Lakeside walking path, BizBeat encountered Mr. Beaudoin’s new boat being readied for launch into Brome Lake. With a maximum speed of just 6.5 mph (11 km/hr), this classic, 1920s-style motor launch, with mahogany trim, seats eight comfortably under its large, striped sun canopy.

Mr. Beaudoin told BizBeat that he owns many boats, but purchased this one specifically to take his grandchildren for leisurely evening tours around Brome Lake. BizBeat hopes that other boaters will follow Mr. Beaudoin’s lead on Brome Lake, where there are constant complaints about noise, pollution and speeding.

“We’re responding to an ever-increasing demand for silent, non-polluting yet stylish water transportation,” says Thomas Johannsen, Business Development Manager at The Canadian Electric Boat Company, which manufactures this craft at its headquarters in Longueuil. Privately owned by a conglomerate of Quebec-based interests, this four-year-old enterprise sells two models of electric launch — the four-seater, 15-ft. E-boat and the larger Fantail 217 — throughout Canada, the U.S., England and Europe.

Are there quiet, electric Sea-Doos and Ski-Doos in Bombardier’s future? “Probably not,” says Dominique Dionne, Bombardier’s Director of Public Relations. “We haven’t yet found a way make them with electric motors.” However, she says the company is working hard to reduce their noise levels and fuel emissions.

 The Canadian Electric Boat Company is located in Longueuil, Quebec. For more information, call (450) 928-1060 or e-mail info@emiboats.com

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Contact BizBeat by phone (450) 242-2323, fax (514) 221-2102 or e-mail bizbeat@morrimostow.com

Morri Mostow & Associates, 2001.