TRURO - Ray Merriam is ready for a change.
"The flare is gone," the owner of the Fair Trade Community CafÉ told the Truro Daily News Monday. "I need another new challenge."
With mixed emotions, Merriam has put the Prince Street and Bible Hill cafÉs up for sale.
The 57-year-old has been involved in many businesses during his life, dating back to selling french fries as a 12-year-old in Cape Breton.
He has often been told he is an innovator who likes the challenges of creating new business concepts, developing businesses and market emerging ideas.
"This innovator, it's like a disease," he said. "The challenge wears off and it's time for a new one."
His business background includes running a gas station, trucking company and business college to teaching and a stint as a marketing and business consultant with the Truro Power Centre in the early days of the business park's inception.
About five years ago, Merriam had a vision for the old Bentley Building, which once boasted to be Truro's greatest department store and in later years, was the Royal Bank branch in the west end of town.
It took eight months and "a lot of sweat equity" to transform the building into what he had envisioned. "It must be like what an artist feels like with a blank canvas," he said.
The shop was built using 98 per cent of reclaimed material as a way of diverting items from the landfill in what is now known as a green building practice.
"This was a door," he said slapping his hand down on the wooden table in front of him.
After opening the business, a loyal group of customers started frequenting the locale. The business expanded by word of mouth and now includes catering and provides a space for local and visiting musicians to perform.
There are lots to look at inside the Prince Street location, including old photos, licence plates and an old-style bicycle hanging upside down from the ceiling.
The enthusiastic entrepreneur had a goal of having a dozen franchises across the Maritimes but said the equity needed to make such a goal a reality was not available.
Today, Merriam is looking to get back into consulting and has a few irons in the fire. Last year he went to China to get married and is in the process of helping his new wife go through the channels to come and work in Canada. He suspects it could be spring before she can come to town and would like to spend some time with her overseas after the business is sold.
Merriam also wants to complete a motivational book he has been working on for eight years dealing with his own life.
Since putting the business up for sale he has had interest from Halifax, Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary.
Merriam, who employs 11 people in a mix of full and part-time jobs, said he will miss opening at 6:30 a.m. and sharing conversation on issues of the day with the regulars.
"It's a neat place for having that kind of debate and discussion," he said. "It's been a blast, just so many great customers, great people."
Merriam ready for something new
TRURO - Ray Merriam is ready for a change.
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- - March 1, 2010 at 15:40:10
Sorry folks - even in a small town like Truro this is NOT a news story. I can understand the coverage of his plan to donate $5M of the selling price to charity but not the story simply about selling his business.
I don't recall reading about the prior owner's decision to sell the Clay Cafe when it went up for sale. Was this an oversight on the part of the TDN? I've got nothing against this guy but lets face reality ... he's has always and will always use the TDN as his soapbox. I'm sure as soon as he moves onto his next venture we'll be reading a news story on it in the TDN. Bank on it.
- Long Truro Resident
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:40:05
Let's be fair to Ray and give him some credit. The man has lived in the community for a long time, has won several business awards, did set up a youth center with skate park one time in Truro, served as a Colchester County Councilor for a long time, promises to donate money for good causes ... the man is just motivated to serve the community. He has spark and substance. If we, ourselves can't match his bigheartedness, at least let's not criticize him. Sometimes we don't like to give credit (except people like Mike and MW4) where it is due. This holds back some good people like Ray from doing anything good to escape the onslaughts of criticism. Free publicity? , some say. Well, if he can donate $5,000 as he has promised, I would venture to say, he sure can spend a few bucks on advertisements. Lets think about it before putting on devils hat!
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:59
I agree with Mike from N.S. If ya don't like what ya see don't bother reading it,and yes sounds like some people do have a personal vendetta against Ray.Obviously they are just jealous of his great success, I mean look how far he has come,Good for him. The best of Luck Ray!
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:57
I think it's great news that the cafe is staying open.
A few years ago, I took a girl there for coffee (well, cuppuccino, but you get the idea) in order to get to know her.
There must've been something good in the coffee, because I married that same girl this past July!
Maybe the Just Us! co-op will buy it from Mr. Merriam. They already have cafes in WOlfville and Halifax. Truro is the next logical step!
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:52
Let me try this again and see if it is less offensive to the moderator. Enough of the Ray Merriam stories. Please, pretty please?
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:46
It sounds like a few folks have more of a personal vendetta against Merriam as opposed to the TDN. It's news, it pertains to the town, perhaps if that isn't what you are looking for, grab a different news paper.
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:44
I understand doing the story on Mr. Merriam giving money from the sale of his cafe to charity, but why is there another story on his business? How about doing features on successful businesses and their owners? Can we discuss the future of Truro and the current businesses?
Which of our closest neighbours are we more like: New Glasgow with its new retail growth, or Amherst, where it just lost Burger King?
- - March 1, 2010 at 15:39:37
I didn't know the TDN ran classifieds on the front page. Why does Mr. Merriam have free coverage on anything he wants? Why do we need to need to know about his business being for sale, but when he closed his shop in Pictou County, or when he was bought out on Inglis St we don't hear the reasons for that.... Let's get some news on what CORDA is doing to get new businesses into the area, or if the Power Centre is getting any new tenants (and hey, didn't Mr. Merriam work with them too?)