Mac's News is open seven days a week throughout the year.
The selection of goods carried has changed over the years.
Mo says, "When we first started, we didn't sell groceries.
We had magazines, T-shirts and souvenirs. But now I carry
fresh flowers and I have a gift selection. I've expanded into
areas where there seemed to be a high demand. I used to get
to the store at 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and leave around midnight.
My schedule hasn't changed much. I don't put in as much time,
but I still put in a lot of hours." Generally, customers for
Mac's News live in Inuvik, but newspapers are mailed regularly
to the surrounding communities.
The suppliers for the goods sold in Mac's News are southern.
Mo says, "I use Stanton's for potato chips and North Star
for pop and chips. My flowers are shipped in from Edmonton
once a week. I carry hundreds of magazines and I get three
boxes of novels that come in once a week. Finally, I go to
the gift show in Toronto every year in August to order for
Christmas. I buy anything that's new, especially brass and
With the magazines and novels, Mo says, "I give my buyer a
volume for the magazines. He gets new magazines in and sends
them. If I get too many of one kind then I ask him to cut
back on it. We receive a selection of novels. A customer can
place an order for a certain book and it takes about a week
to receive it."
Stock for Mac's News and the deli is stored at a warehouse
that Mo owns. It is close to both locations and Mo goes back
and forth as required during the day. Mo explains, "I have
a huge walk-in freezer that is full. Even though it takes
time, I feel that it's better to have it out at the warehouse
than to give up any retail space." There are three full-time
staff for the year and some part-time. During the summer,
there are four more full-time staff.
Mo does not do much advertising for Mac's News. She says,
"I'll advertise when I have a sale but I haven't done a lot
of advertising for Mac's. I feel most people know it by now."
Mac's News is not subject to extensive regulation. Mo says,
"There's fire and safety [regulations] and you need a business
Mo enjoys being a woman in business in the North. "I don't
think I get treated any differently as a woman. I think that
I might be patting my own back, but because I've worked really
hard, I've gotten respect from many business people in town.
People's help after the fire proved that there are a lot of
people out there who care what happens to me. That made me
In reviewing her business philosophy, Mo states, "When I started
I didn't know the first thing about business, so I was learning
all the time. My attitude hasn't really changed very much.
The challenge from one day is still a challenge everyday,
but it has become more familiar.
Road's End Deli
As was mentioned, Mo and two partners started Road's End
Deli at the beginning of 1988. One partner left shortly after
the deli opened and Mo is in the process of buying out the
other partner. The deli is also up for sale.
Mo says, "Our hours right now are 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. The people that are thinking of buying it over may
add a dinner menu. We're closed on Sundays so that all staff
get a day off. In the summer, we had three full-time staff
and a few part-time. For the rest of the year, we've only
got one full time person and a few part-time."
Most of the business comes from people off the street coming
for lunch. They have few business accounts and cater for meetings.
Mo says, "We'll get orders if someone has a open house. For
example, CBC had an open house today. They ordered about eighteen
dozen pastries for it. The government will also order bag
lunches for business meetings."
Mo continues, "My supplier is the Grocery People out of Edmonton.
We get most of our bake-off products from the Grocery People,
since we don't bake from scratch. We order our produce from
Stantons. Then we order cheese and meat from Vancouver; it
comes in once a week."
Midnight Express Tours
Mo received government funding for the second time, to
purchase boats in 1988. Her first full season began in July
1989. Mo says, "My first season went well. But the season
is so short that it's going to take a few years to start making
some money and paying of the boats."
Tours included trips to a local bush camp for tea and bannock,
a day cruise to Tuktoyatuk (Tuk), a midnight champagne tour,
and a cruise to Aklavik. Mo has three boats to make the boat
tours. "I've got a little speed boat that will take six people.
I have a cabin cruiser that will take eight people, and I
have another boat that will take twelve people. I use the
big one most often for the trip up to Tuk. I use the little
one for the midnight champagne tours and the tea and bannock
Mo recalls the first tourists of the season.
"Many of my first tourists this year were seniors from
across Canada, who were involved with the Elder Hostel program.
I took a couple of elders to Tuk and they just loved it. They
hadn't been that far north before. They were about 80 years
old. I took some of them on the midnight champagne tour. We
went out about 10 o' clock at night and came back at 1:00
in the morning. They thought being out in the sun at midnight
in July was the greatest thing.
"I did quite a few tea and bannock tours that I charged
$35 or $45 for, depending on which boat we used. I went up
to a local camp about nine miles away and had tea and bannock
with some really good friends of mine. It's great. Both of
them have great personalities. I had from two to six customers
at one time. On some of the early trips I took only one person
at a time. Even though by the time I pay for tea and bannock,
I probably only break even with one person, at least I had
one happy person. I take them and I don't really count my
time. The way I look at it, it gets me out of the store.
"We had a trip to Tuk almost every week, priced at $250
a person. We picked Thursday for trips to Tuk and Tuesday
for Aklavik. But we never had any trips to Aklavik. I think
that if I hadn't specified Thursdays, and just said daily
trips or on demand then I could have had a lot more trips
"It's a whole day's trip to go to Tuk.
We leave at 8:00 in the morning and sometimes we get back
at midnight. When the whales are in during July, I find that
people don't want to go right into Tuk. They want to go out
on the boat and look at the whales. I give them lunches from
the deli, sandwiches and potato salad. I tied in with Western
Arctic Air, so my tourists can go up to Tuk and back by boat;
they can go up by boat and fly back, or vice versa. They can
see it from the air or actually be right over the water."
Aklavik doesn't draw people like Tuk does because it's not
on the Arctic Ocean. Most people only go on one tour and everybody
picks Tuk. They can go dip their toe in the Arctic Ocean and
go back home and tell everyone. The other tour I offered was
the midnight champagne tour for $60 per person. I didn't have
many of them but my customers really liked it. I barbecued
caribou, musk ox and arctic char on the lake."
For advertising, Mo has a pamphlet, which describes the tours.
"I sent them to the tourist bureaus at Dawson and Whitehorse
in the Yukon and I sent them to Yellowknife. I also sent some
to the town office for people who write in for information
then they can get the pamphlet in on of the packages."
Mo states, "We get a lot of tourist traffic especially in
July. We're getting more people coming to Inuvik because we
have more for them to do. At one time they'd come and turn
around and go right back, sometimes on the same day. They
would come and ask, 'What's there to see? Where do we go?'
I would feel terrible, because I couldn't think of anything.
There's a lot more for them to do now."
Staff are reliable in the deli and the store, so Mo does most
of the tours herself. Mo says, "I may have a friend coming
back next summer who will work with me. He's a local person
who's had more experience on the river here than I have. I've
had my little boat for about five years now and I've done
a lot of boating. I used to go to Tuk every year for trips
and camping and I've taken a trip down to Norman Wells. I've
learned how to follow the buoys and the markers. I've also
learned a lot by asking questions of the coastguard."
Safety is important and Mo has not had any accidents in the
years she has been boating. "I've had my share of sandbars
this year. The river is really wide and there are some shallow
spots, and even out on the ocean its shallow. In some places,
it's only two or three feet deep so you really have to watch
the coast guard markers. I've hit about two sandbars when
I was carrying tourists."
Mo continues, "I really love boating. I could stay on the
river day and night. It's hard to start doing it as a business.
A friend said to me, 'You're dumb because now you're turning
a hobby that you really enjoy into work.' There is that downside
to it. When I go to Tuk with tourists, I have fun but I never
totally relax as I would if I went with a bunch of friends.
When I'm with a group of tourists, I always have in the back
of my mind that I'm responsible for these people. It's not
a problem so long as I can decide to take a boat sometimes
and relax because I don't take tourists every day."