Terry’s Tents & Shoe Repair, servicing all (in)tents and purposes for 31 years
Posted on October 06, 2023 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments
Labradorians can find a variety of goods and services at locally-owned Terry’s Tents and Shoe Repair. Operating for over 30 years, what started as a cobbling service quickly expanded into tents, packs, craft supplies and more.
Terry Whey began learning the craft of shoe repair at 13 years old by working after school and throughout the summers at Modern Shoe Hospital in St. John’s, N.L. At the time, shoe repair shops were plentiful in Newfoundland, but similar services were unavailable in Goose Bay, Labrador. Wanting to have a business of his very own, Whey saw an opportunity. He secured ACOA funding that supported new business ventures in remote locations and, at 24 years old, moved to Labrador with his wife. Terry launched his namesake business in 1992.
Terry’s Tents & Shoe Repair began as a cobbling service, operating from a 500-square-foot rented building. However, as customers requested knapsacks and tents, Whey began to expand.
Shoes, tents and crafts
Terry made his first tent around 1995 and demand has remained steady ever since. The business continues to make over 100 tents each year. In the early days, Terry also began making knapsacks and canvas bags and construction started on a new building for the business.
A lot of Terry’s work is custom and most products are made in-house. He has made a variety of canvas products for the aircraft, marine and mining industries, as well as personalized customer orders for tents, bags and more. Craft supplies have been in stock at Terry’s for about 20 years, including wool, sewing materials and a large selection of fabrics. Whey also added picture framing, apparel printing, embroidering and other repair services over time. While he continues to do some shoe repair, Terry estimates that it only accounts for about one per cent of the business today.
The business eventually became known as ‘Terry’s Tents’ and after three expansions, its building from the ‘90s is now over 5,000 square feet.
Good service & products
While Terry’s Tents provides a much-needed service to Labradorians, they have received orders across Canada as far west as Saskatchewan, as well as some orders from Maine in the U.S.
With a website that’s about 25 years old and a relatively new Facebook page, essentially all of the company’s success has come from word of mouth. Whey recognizes that updates could be made to their marketing efforts and he says he’s had requests to open a second location in Labrador. However, he worries that his team would be unable to meet any increase in demand. Instead, he remains focused on providing quality service and products. “Generally, if you provide a good service and good products, that speaks for itself.”
Today, Terry continues to operate the business along with his wife, who handles bookkeeping, and three other employees on the manufacturing and retail side. Looking towards the future, the next step for Whey is retirement. With Terry’s Tents currently up for sale, he hopes to find a buyer soon to carry on what he has built.
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