This is part of a year-long ‘Love for Local’ series called NB365: portraits of New Brunswick entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations. Huddle is a media partner with Love for Local. Today, we hear from Jeremy and Gina Miller of Kayak Fundy – FreshAir Adventure in Alma.
IN 2010 I WAS LIVING IN HONG KONG AND THE OPPORTUNITY CAME ALONG TO PURCHASE THE KAYAKING COMPANY FROM MY BROTHER JOE AND HIS PARTNER ALAN MOORE. THEY HAD OPENED THE BUSINESS IN 1996 AND WERE MOVING ON TO NEW ADVENTURES. THE BUSINESS PURCHASE DOVETAILED WITH MY OWN INTERESTS AS I WAS HEAVILY INVOLVED IN COACHING AND COMPETITIVE PADDLING IN HONG KONG.
Here was a perfect opportunity to spend more time in Canada, closer to my family and also continue to do what I loved. I spent the first 8 years I was in business flying back and forth from Hong Kong to Canada for the summer to operate the business before my husband decided he was tired of eating beans on toast for 5 months of the year in my absence. Ultimately, we moved back to Canada in 2018.
In 2021 we opened Kayak Fundy Café at our location and now we can fill people’s stomachs as well as their desire to kayak and explore the incredible coastline of the Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park.
Opening the café has been an honestly wonderful experience, as I have had more opportunities to meet and chat with my neighbours and the local business community. Not everybody kayaks, but everybody eats – and chatting over coffee and cake with local businesspeople is a luxury I didn’t have while kayaking and checking weather forecasts for the 100th time each day.
This wasn’t a revelation, but it was certainly reinforced over the past few years: Smart businesses support each other and are happy to see each other succeed.
Ours is a web of mutual improvement: when I can support local farmers or other suppliers, they look out for my business as well. When I encourage guests to visit other businesses for more kayaking, or rock climbing, or horse riding – it inspires them to stay longer and tell more people about the fantastic things you can do and experience and learn in New Brunswick.
It’s a virtuous circle: the success of local entrepreneurs, farmers, craftspeople and businesspeople allows us all to continue offering excellent products and increase our resources to develop more. Our out-of-province customers prefer to purchase locally made and sourced products; that is why they have come here.
I have been especially fortunate in that I have opened our Kayak Fundy Café as an addition to our primary business of guided kayak adventures. This means that I get to choose to sell only NB Craft beers, or locally roasted coffee, and locally grown produce in the restaurant. And I am grateful to have the luxury of selling products I appreciate and believe in.
We took advantage of the summer of 2021 to have a “soft opening” for the Kayak Fundy Café and work on inventing a menu that suits us and the needs of our guests. We intend to increase our vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options as best we can. This market niche has been unexpectedly gratifying since it can be hard for travellers to find specialty diet options in smaller communities.
Our guided kayak tours along the Fundy National Park Coastline have always been exceptionally popular, and in the coming year, we intend to operate more specialty day tours featuring some of the lesser-visited beaches and coastline of the Upper Bay.
The tours will culminate in a fantastic seafood feast created by Dominic Beland of Queen’s Farm Fundy (his fire-roasted oysters, scallops and lobster are divine) ad featuring local wine (from Waterside Winery) and NB craft beer. We are really excited about working with Dominic and featuring more local businesses and bringing all these strengths together in one package is a product that we believe is competitive on a national scale.