The New Perlican, Trinity Bay native and her family came home every second summer to enjoy all the things Newfoundland and Labrador has to offer.
“We’d never go to Disneyworld — we just had to come back to Newfoundland,” she told TC Media. “Especially in the summer, we’d go out cod jigging and see family and friends.”
Working in the office of a northern Alberta newspaper, she penned a column about the culture and news of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Two years ago, Susan and her husband, Jeff, decided the time was right to move back home for good. Looking to create an opportunity for herself, Susan opened the Scalliwaggs café and gift shop on the main highway.
It’s a totally new venture for the first-time business owner. She’s renting space in the old Society of United Fishermen Lodge building.
“There’s a piece of jewelry there,” she says, pointing to a wooden display case in the shop, “that says, ‘Happiness comes in saltwater,’ and then the other side of the pendant… it’s a wave. That’s got to be my favourite thing in the store, because it does bring us happiness.”
The shop is nestled in the harbour, overlooking a series of fishing stages. Ducks regularly swim by, and picnic tables are set up in the summer for customers looking to enjoy an ice cream or sandwich in the sun.
“It’s a prime location,” Susan said. “It’s on the main highway. It’s right next to the water and the stages.”
Big on selection
The Scalliwaggs gift shop features knitted goods, quilts, T-shirts, books, and other odds-and-ends, with some of the items made by people who live in New Perlican. The food is homemade and the menu changes daily.
Pea soup and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, chicken soup, shepherd’s pie, honey garlic ribs with rice, and baked beans with toutons are some of the dishes that find their way and onto plates, depending on the day.
The name of the shop is a nod to her grandmother, Hannah Legge, who often used the word “scallywags” to describe the kids Susan grew up with.
Fall and winter months are a bit more relaxed for Susan, who typically closes the shop on Sundays. But summer demands a full seven-day work week, with family members pitching in to help as needed.
“If somebody had to tell me that that many people were going to come through the door, I would never have believed them,” Susan said, reflecting on her first summer in business.
Looking to build on last summer’s success, she’s rearranged seating in the café to offer patrons more privacy. She also wants to emphasize the general experience of hanging out in New Perlican, which has a population just below 200.
“Last year a couple of times we’ve had music out on the step here — just local musicians with a guitar and accordion, and people singing. I’d like to have more of that. And there’s lots of ducks down here in the water every day,” she said.
Bags of duck food sold at the store proved popular last summer.
“A lot of people were out feeding the ducks and just taking in the stages and the water,” she said. “We do have a trail down by the lighthouse, and we’ve got maps here of the trail. A lot of people want the experience.”