When I last interviewed Anita Carroll in July 2016, she wasn’t having the best day. Posie Row, which she owns, had been burglarized during a wave of drug related crime in the city.
It’s wonderful on this chilly spring afternoon to see Carroll happy and excited as we tour 214 Duckworth Street, the building next door to Posie Row, which she has just purchased.
After hearing the story of Posie Row’s challenges, success, and current expansion, I can tell that bold, optimistic moves, and thriving through adversity are nothing new for her.
In 1995 she opened the doors of Posie Row at 210 Duckworth. Pregnant with her 2nd child and needing employment, with about $2500 in cash, Carroll “begged and borrowed fixtures, made my own displays, and generally stayed ahead of the 8 ball.”
She weathered many struggles in the first 5 years, slowly growing her “carefully cluttered array of interesting, and mostly exclusive, products, sourced carefully to be fair trade or as close to it as we can get.” 14 years in they were “busting at the seams,” and the search for more space began.
It took another 8 years of searching and negotiating, but the right building has finally manifested. Expanding Posie Row into the first floor next door provides ample, attractive shelf space and much better clothing display options without losing her old homebase. So what are some secrets to her long term success?
“I always believed that Newfoundlanders wanted local places to shop that provided interesting products that had integrity, and at prices that were affordable. An alternative to mall shopping.” Carroll speaks with passion of the local business community. “Downtown businesses have many challenges. But they tend to be the trendsetters. Being owner operated, the quality of service is high.”
Carroll puts her money where her mouth is, and the same courage and enthusiasm that built Posie Row is turning outward now to the community. Envisioning a richer, “denser” downtown with life on the upper floors of retail space, she would like to use her own upper floors in the new building to nurture local businesses. A cavernous, labyrinthine, and currently somewhat ramshackle collection of rooms, the possibilities are exciting and the obstacles steep.
Carroll wants to preserve the building, which has remained intact since 1894. In need of repairs, the integrity of the structure is sound and the central staircase that leads up all floors of the building is charming, but an impediment to renting the space floor by floor. Carroll is brainstorming a way to work with these challenges and create a destination experience which showcases all floors of the historic property while encouraging entrepreneurship.
With the upper decks of 214 still in the vision phase and an exciting new ground floor expansion for Posie Row in the works, Carroll is determined to keep the building intact, make necessary repairs, and use her hard won experience and capital to help others and provide a vision of a healthier downtown.