WINDSOR, N.S. — The owner of Our Mother's Keepers is getting ready to relocate her business over the holidays — and she's quite excited about the opportunities that the move, and 2018, present.
Leesa White has been in business on Water Street for seven years but said when her rent was increased by nearly double this fall, she knew it was time to leave.
“I've been kind of wanting to move on for a couple of years so it was a perfect opportunity to look for something else,” said White while shoppers mulled about her store Dec. 19.
“The first place I asked about was actually available and things have just ticked along and fallen into place so well that I've come to think that it was meant to happen,” she said.
White and her husband, Dan, moved to Windsor from Halifax about 12 years ago. She opened the business in May 2010 to sell products for the soul and for the planet. Our Mother's Keepers carries eco-friendly, fair trade, and socially-responsible items from around the world, and promotes talented local artisans, including Heather Knight, who creates “handcrafted clothing that reflects the spirit of Atlantic Canada.”
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Over the years, the Whites became involved with helping rescue abused, abandoned and neglected cats and her business became home to a number of felines looking for a second chance.
The store currently hosts a fundraising section, where all items sold go to help cats in need.
White said the community support she's received over the years has been phenomenal, which is why she's relocating and not closing her doors forever.
“I've had some health issues in recent years and I briefly thought of just closing and taking some time for me because I also do cat rescue, which has been very, very busy and increasingly so over the last few years,” said White.
“My doctor has kind of said that something has got to go — either your cat rescue, your business or your health,” she said, adding that when people heard she may close Our Mother's Keepers, patrons, fellow business owners, and friends implored her to stay open.
“I did consider closing but I had so many people come to me and say, 'Oh God, don't close; please don't close, we love you and we love your store and love what you do — both the business and the cat rescue,'” said White.
“The support was really touching. That's why I'm staying in business and moving rather than just closing.”
Erin Lynch, and her three-year-old daughter Jaylin Smith, travel from Antrim, which is near Musquodoboit, just to shop at White's store.
“We come for a lot of the stones and the natural products that she has and we also support the rescue that she does,” said Lynch, who was shopping there Dec. 19.
“I always make my annual trek for Christmas to do my Christmas shopping — every year, no fail,” said Lynch, adding she's happy to hear the store will reopen in a new location in the new year.
Nearly everything on sale
The big move will take place between Christmas and New Year's Day. As such, White is hosting a storewide sale in hopes of not having to pack too much product.
Right now, most items in the store are between 15 and 50 per cent off. She's completely sold out of salt lamps and pendulums, and says incense is also a top seller right now. The store will be open until Dec. 24.
She hopes to be ready to greet customers at 74 Gerrish Street by the middle of January.
Gerrish Street “looks beautiful now that the road has been redone. I see new shops opening and hanging around, which is really important,” said White, who is originally from Digby.
“I love being part of a small town and community and I just hope people appreciate what they have in their local community and support it,” she said.
The store's perpetual employee of the month, Sam, an orange tabby who calls the store home and greets visitors, will be moving to the new location as well. The former stray became a mascot of the store in 2011.
White says she will continue her cat rescue efforts in 2018, but it will be on a smaller scale.
“Helping homeless cats is where my heart is,” she said, choking up slightly.
There are currently two cats at Our Mother's Keepers available for adoption — Ella and Emma. They were recently spayed and will be available in January.
White, who said she's been overwhelmed by the positivity and support of the public, said she's looking forward to the move and what the future holds.
“What started as a negative experience has really turned into the best thing that could have happened to my business,” said White.