Resident pushing for mini-mall in Emo

With business on Front Street in Emo slowly dwindling, a local resident is more determined than ever to revitalize the area.
Peter Gushulak has lived in Emo for about three years with his wife and three children, and doesn’t like what he sees happening to the downtown area.
“I love downtown,” Gushulak said, noting how quaint it is. “But it seems everyone is moving to the highway when we should be keeping it on Front Street.”
His vision is to turn the old “Scrap-a-bit” location into a mini-mall of sorts.
“I’d divide it into maybe four-by-four spaces that local people could rent and sell their products like elk meat, antiques, or honey,” he explained.
He said it’s just too expensive for local businesses of that kind to afford floor space on their own. And he knows it’s something he can’t do alone, either.
He went to the municipality to see what kind of assistance he could get, but Emo council is only in the process of establishing a plan to help businesses.
Along with the local vendors, Gushulak said he also would like to operate a coffee shop in the mini-mall, which would sell Amish goods.
“If that went well, maybe I’d also look at some other items for breakfast and lunch,” he said, adding it wouldn’t be difficult for him because he used to run a restaurant, as well as being the head chef.
Gushulak said he also might think about having a computer available with Internet access for a small fee, as well as space for other businesses to advertise, adding these are just a few ideas he thinks people might like to see in Emo.
Gushulak is looking for support from others in the community, and said he already had at least six people say they would be interested in participating in the endeavour.
He also said he really likes the old “Scrap-a-bit” location, noting it would be perfect.
“It’s between the post office and the bank, so there would be guaranteed traffic,” he explained. “There’d be no problem making it in that location.”
He also noted the kitchen and basement in the building also makes it ideal. The kitchen would be great for the coffee shop while the basement could be used for storing antiques, for instance.
The currently empty building belongs to Marcel Degagne. After speaking to him about the idea, Gushulak said Degagne is onboard and flexible—and the price is reasonable.
“If things keep going in the right direction, I could take over the building in the next few weeks,” he said, explaining it would take a few months to get things in order.
He would like to be open by spring.
“It would help everyone in the downtown area, plus serve 10-20 local families who need space to sell products,” Gushulak noted, stressing he wouldn’t “step on the toes” of other similar businesses, such as the Village Variety in Emo.
He would like a billboard on the highway in and out of Emo to pull in tourists who drive through the village. In fact, Gushulak spoke to Emo council about that matter at Monday night’s meeting.
Gushulak said he’d be able to get the signs painted, he just needs billboards and a place to put it.
He also would like to be deemed the “Welcome Wagon,” offering a cup of coffee, bathrooms, and information for those visiting or new to the community.
Council promised to discuss the matter and get back to him.
“I know I could pull in people,” Gushulak said. “It would bring life back to the Front Street area and would really help the community.
“If someone doesn’t do something, it’s just going to disappear,” he warned.
If anyone is interested or has a suggestion, call Gushulak at 482-3476.