As hard as it is to admit, we need your help. After over a year of struggling from a massive loss of product as a result of Hurricane Fiona, it's time to swallow our pride and ask our community for help in these challenging times. If this is left unresolved our little store that was built from scratch, with the help of so many local businesses across the province, is in jeopardy of closing its doors.
Who are we and why are we raising money?
Jamieson's General Store was originally started to bring amazing fresh local products across Nova Scotia and the Maritimes to one convenient location on the North Shore. When COVID and the subsequential lockdown hit, Jamieson’s pivoted into action and began to offer a door-to-door delivery service, offering fresh local products to customers with contactless delivery. Our store was busy and growing so much so that Jamieson’s needed a bigger location. We exhausted every option in Tatamagouche, we just couldn’t find the right fit so our search lead to us to Pictou where we opened our second location in July 2022. Pictou county had the highest volume of home deliveries even after lockdowns had ended. It made sense. Between the new Bulk section in both locations and the cost of opening a brand-new store, we didn’t have a lot of room for errors. Pictou started off with a bang and our loyal delivery customers and the community welcomed us with open arms. Fast forward, to September; just two short months after we opened our second location, Hurricane Fiona ripped through the North Shore.
Here’s the situation: With the loss of power, at two locations our perishable and frozen products were at risk. We saved what we could from both locations, but not everything could be saved. Entire shipments of hundreds of pounds of fish, poultry, meat, ice cream, pizza and more were lost. Along with fresh eggs, milk, and cheese. We cooked as much defrosting food as we could to serve the community so it wouldn't go to waste. Between the 2 locations we lost over $65,000 worth of product.
For 7 days, we BBQ'd breakfast, lunch & served Coffee for the community for those without power. Most of us were without power for two weeks, so Jamieson’s stepped up to serve the community with hot meals and coffee twice a day for the week following Fiona. We cooked everything from traditional breakfast, to roasting local tomatoes on the BBQ to make tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to fish tacos with local cod and local corn tortillas. It wasn’t an uncommon sight to see Jenna standing in her fuzzy house coat serving breakfast and coffee.
We were closed for over two weeks, while we had no power and were waiting for replacement products to arrive while many of our suppliers who were in the same position and lost the products they had on hand.
We had, what we were told, to be adequate coverage for unexpected events such as a hurricane, through Burns & Wilcox. Our coverage included: All systems go coverage (power loss), equipment failure, inventory loss, payroll losses and business interruption insurance. We knew that this would take a while due to the volume of claims, but we estimated a few months before our claims were processed and paid. Dec 31st, 2022, our claims were denied. We are seeking assistance to raise $75,000.00 to help us recover of unpaid insurance losses.
What we have done to try and rectify the problem: In November 2022 we had obtained legal counsel, as we were receiving push back from the claims department and we did not like the ‘direction’ it was going. Over the next few months of 2023 our legal team corresponded with our Broker: Caldwell Roach and Burns and Willcox, the insurance company. Caldwell Roach reinforced that fact that we had coverage and would investigate the denial. It took 3 more months before we were informed that due to excessively high winds we would not be covered. When the original policy was set up, we had very specifically asked if an impending hurricane came through and we lost power, and lost everything would we be covered? We were told that we would be covered.
The Brokers office records all calls for quality assurance, however when the recorded phone calls were requested, we were advised by the broker calls were not recorded in 2020 when the policy was set up. Two days before the deadline of the provincial assistance coverage ended the broker sent Jamieson’s the application form, incomplete and unsigned by the broker: which was required for verification of denied claims.
After repeated unanswered calls to the Broker, we presented them with a settlement request to cover our losses due to their negligence: selling us policies they didn’t fully understand and not signing the appropriate documents we needed for province coverage. They fully denied our settlement request of $100,000.00 and offered us nothing. It then became apparent that without taking them to court, we wouldn’t see a dime.
The insurance Bureau of Canada was unable to help with the matter because we had obtained legal counsel.
All that is left is to take them to court, which we do not have the funds to do. We tried reaching out to our local political leaders for help, a possible extension for the provincial coverage or for them to put pressure on Brokers and Insurance Companies to ensure they are being fair to their clients. Still, we made no progress. We are not alone in this situation. We have heard of multiple small businesses and individuals in the same position.
If all these logistical matters weren’t enough, 2023 has been the worst growing season for local farmers in over 40 years, if not ever. The multiple thaws through the winter mixed with extreme cold affected multiple crops. Then came the extreme heat, followed by extreme rain.
More challenges ensued: Summer of 2023, we were optimistic. We needed a great summer to pull through. Sadly, our Pictou location suffered a huge decrease in traffic due to inconsistencies with the PEI ferry and our Tatamagouche location suffered an 80% decrease due to the 12-week-long construction that blocked all three entrances to the village, during Tatamagouche’s busiest time of the year. Construction and traffic lights created waits for upwards of 50 minutes somedays, as a result locals avoided the village unless necessary and visitors had less time and patience to explore after their wait. As a community we all felt the effects and decrease in customers overall. There were some Saturdays, our busiest day of the week that resembled snowstorm level traffic, during the peak of summer.
Incessantly we knocked on the doors of local MLA's and The Department of Transportation for a solution to this issue. After weeks of trying and being told repeatedly the lights were coming down, they would change to flaggers instead; nothing ever changed.
Slowly, week by week the offerings we have been able to provide became less and less, as we just didn’t have the cash flow to keep bringing in a full selection. By fall 2023, knowing that all we were doing was disappointing customers in two locations, the difficult decision to close our Pictou location was made so we could focus on our original Jamieson’s store in Tatamagouche.
Loans are not an option: Between the loans we obtained for the Bulk Section and the Pictou location, we just are not able to take on more debt. We have worked with our loan company on interest only payments and to defer our regular payments as long as possible. We kept holding out thinking the Insurance company would have to pay eventually. Without the revenue from our Pictou location, we cannot manage any additional debt.
For the first time in four years, we were forced to lay off our staff. We have never laid off staff, even during Covid and the winter months, we maintained our staff. We tried to prevent layoffs. Briefly we participated in a Work Share Program to subsidize the employees for their reduced hours. The workshare program was not a good fit for our staff and with a heavy heart, Layoffs were made. We take pride in being able to offer living wages, work life balance and year-round employment for our staff. Laying off our staff was the hardest thing we have done.
It’s heartbreaking to know that our burdens have had ripple effects on our suppliers, customers, and staff. This is something we never intended to happen. Our little store has been built through a community of local suppliers. Their success is our success. Knowing that we owe other small local businesses funds, weighs so heavily on our hearts and want nothing more than to make things right. Being unable to support our 70 + suppliers by buying their products as usual has hurt our local business community.
This problem truly goes much deeper than just Jamieson’s General Store.
When they said entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, they weren't kidding. Covid and lockdowns were a cake walk compared to what we have encountered post Hurricane Fiona.
Where will the donations go?
• Most of the funds will go to our suppliers.
• Outstanding accounts and paying for new inventory to fill our shelves with your favorite local products we have all missed so much.
• Refrigeration equipment that needs to be moved from our Pictou Location will cost us at least $1,500.00.
• Lawyers’ fees.
There have been a lot of hard lessons learned in the last year. There is no manual on how to handle these types of situations. It’s always easier to reflect and see what you could have done differently to slightly change the outcome. No matter how we handled the situation, nothing was going to compensate for our losses that our insurance company should have covered.
We are hoping that with the support from the community that helped shape and build us, Jamieson’s can come back to its humble beginnings and stand proudly with a full selection of your favorite local products once again.
How can you support us?
• Donate directly to this GoFundMe campaign.
• Share this campaign across your social, email, and personal networks to help us reach as many people as possible.
If you would like to speak about the campaign in confidence, make a private donation outside of the campaign or discuss options to become a corporate sponsor, you can contact us
If you prefer to send a donation via cheque, you can mail it privately here.
Jamieson’s General Store- 44 Creamery Road Tatamagouche, NS B0K 1V0
We know that this is a difficult time for many. Individuals and businesses are facing hard times just as we are. Please only donate if you feel comfortable doing so. Any amount, regardless of the size, makes a difference. We know how Nova Scotians rally together during tough times, and many small acts make a BIG impact. We truly appreciate your ongoing support by making us part of your regular grocery budget.
With a New Year comes a new chance to regroup and refocus with a renewed attitude and remember why we started this wonderful little business in the first place.
Thank you in advance for reading our story. Your support means so much to our little store.
The Local products we offer:
- Meal kits
- Frozen homemade meals, dips and soups
- Bulk sections, including shampoo, laundry & cleaning supplies.
- Workshops, wreath making, beeswax wraps.
- Ethically sourced local Frozen fish selection
- Organic dairy products (Real Cream, yogurt, milk ect..)
- Spray free and organic produce
- Fresh Flowers
- Local Maple Syrup
- Local Grass Fed Beef
- Local Free-Range Chicken, Non GMO
- Local Baked Goods
- Assortment of Nova Scotia artisanal cheese
- Local Organic Tofu
- Local Ferments, such kraut & kimchi
-Local Honey and Maple Syrup
- Local Kombucha
- Locally roasted coffee and tea
- Dry organic goods: flour, nuts, oats ect..