Empathy and compassion for others in her community is what defines Kimberley Dares, co-owner of the Trainyard General Store in downtown Dartmouth. This defining trait is why she has been recognized as the 2021 winner of the Gloria Fisher Businessperson of the Year Award.
“I am so grateful to spend my days in downtown Dartmouth, and it is an honour to have been selected for the award, especially after this year,” says Dares.
The award is given annually by the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission (DDBC) to a downtown Dartmouth business owner who demonstrates an excellent level of business standards and ethics, plus leadership, creativity, vision and entrepreneurial spirit. The winner, who is selected by a DDBC committee after a public nomination process, must also show support for others in the community and promote downtown Dartmouth whenever and wherever possible.
“Kimberley exemplifies the community spirit of downtown Dartmouth. She is always giving back through donations to non-profits, her support for local makers and social enterprises, and participation in events,” says Tim Rissesco, executive director of DDBC.
Dares, alongside her husband Jason MacDonald, has built Trainyard General Store as a conduit for helping and strengthening the community that surrounds them. Trainyard sells locally made goods with a conscience, many of which are sourced from other small businesses. Their items for sale range from spice blends to art pieces to infant clothing. Trainyard also uses the store’s physical space and digital platforms to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs, champion fellow downtown Dartmouth businesses, and raise awareness of the most pressing social issues the community faces.
Most notably, Trainyard partners with local non-profit organizations through their Trainyard Connect program and a portion of their sales are donated annually to their partners. Since launching the program in 2017, Trainyard has donated over $15,000 to to their non-profit organizations. This year, their Trainyard Connect partners are youth-focused organizations MacPhee Centre for Creative Learning and Business is Jammin’.
The Trainyard’s mix of providing good quality products and social responsibility has garnered the store quite the loyal following. This year, in the middle of a pandemic, the couple moved the shop from its original space at 53 Portland Street and into a larger location at 137 Portland Street to accommodate growing demand, just in time for the shop’s fifth birthday.
“The community has been incredibly supportive of The Trainyard since our opening day five years ago, and it is because of that support that we've been able to continue growing and having the impact we have had,” Dares says.
Dares’ latest community initiative is the Trainyard Community Action Group. She started the program this spring to bring people together and make a bigger impact in the community. As soon as COVID-19 restrictions ease, upcoming initiatives will include a downtown Dartmouth community clean up, donation drives and craft swaps. Dares says she encourages anyone interested in joining the Community Action Group to visit their website (trainyardstore.com).
“I am so excited to see what this next chapter on Portland Street holds for us, and to continue watching downtown Dartmouth grow,” Dares says.
ABOUT GLORIA FISHER:
Gloria Fisher opened Fisher’s Stationery on Portland Street in 1959. She kept running the business successfully until her retirement in 2014 at the age of 93. Customers remember Gloria fondly as a kind, hard-working shop owner who went the extra mile for her customers and greeted everyone she knew by name.
Photo credit: River Heim
Written by Raf Peligro