In 1998, Joanne Chevrefils saw a business opportunity. In Pine Falls at the time, there were few options available for women’s fashion and she reasoned that she might have some success if she filled that niche. “There wasn’t a lot of choice in the area,” said Chevrefils. “All we had was the Northern Store and the Sears Catalogue.”
Having worked with Sears previously, she had some knowledge of the retail clothing business and she put that knowledge and her hunch together to create Country Concepts. She started it as a ladies-wear shop located in the Post Office building in Pine Falls. And it turned out that her instincts were correct. “It was good,” she said. She was able to draw clientele from around the region. Customers from the Beaches were very supportive. She stayed in that location for about ten years when she moved to her current location, next door in Rupert’s Landing. The new location was easier to access for her older customers, who had trouble with the stairs in the post office building.
Eventually, she branched into floral arrangements and gift-ware. And about five years ago, took over the Sears Catalogue business.
It proved to be a relatively recession-proof business. She didn’t feel the pinch that many local businesses felt after the mill had closed in 2009. But despite that success, when she listed the business for sale a few years back, it didn’t generate a lot of interest. She had it up for sale for 2 years and then took it off the market for a year. She put it back up for sale last fall, but eventually decided she was ready for retirement and began planning her exit strategy.
The doors will be closing this Saturday, November 24. If you are reading this before that date, make sure you get down there. She still has some great deals as she tries to clear out her inventory.
As for her personal plans for retirement, Joanne intends to stay in the community and spend more time with family and friends. And while she’s looking forward to that, she is grateful for all the support she has received from her loyal customers through the years. “Thanks for all the years of supporting the business and myself,” she said. “I got to know a lot of people and got close to a lot of people who are like family now. And to my family have stood by me for 20 years as I spent my time here.”