When many small rural businesses are closing their doors, Denise Collins is thrilled to be reversing this trend by opening her new business Back Porch Coffeehouse & Store in Linden, Manitoba. She welcomed customers with a smile on Oct. 23, when the store opened in the small village located a few miles west of Landmark.
As a teenager, Collins dreamed of the day she would have the chance to create and manage her own coffeehouse and store. In 1994, she worked at a restaurant in Winnipeg where her passion for the food industry blossomed. A few years later, when she was employed at a local café, her opportunity came up.
Collins purchased her great-grandparents’ former home – which had been built in the 1950s and kept in the family – located adjacent to her property. She knew that this was her chance to transform her dream into reality. The name “Back Porch” seemed perfect as the store was located in her backyard and guests had to pass through the back porch in order to reach the second level in the store.
To transform the older home into a store, Collins completely gutted it. She created new rooms and made many alterations to create the bright, cheerful ambiance in the store today. Two dormers were added to the second level to increase footage. “But,” Collins said, “I tried keeping as much of the architecture as possible like the crown mouldings, wide baseboards, the light fixture in the living room and original staircase to the second floor.” The atmosphere has been enhanced with vintage chairs,
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: After Denise purchased the home, she knew it was time to make her dream a reality.
antique decorations and a menu written on a chalkboard on the wall. After three months of hard work and with the support of her husband and son, Collins hung the “Open” sign and waited for customers to arrive.
Unlike many small businesses, Back Porch opens early in the morning and remains open into the evening. “I literally sat at my window and watched highway traffic one morning. There were a number of people already commuting to work at 6:30 a. m. so I’m opening at that hour,” Collins said. She encourages commuters to stop by her store for a Latte, Espresso or Cappuccino as they pass by and soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts are available throughout the day. The small convenience store is also appreciated by locals who now have staple products available to them.
Unique to the store is a journal for guests to jot down memories of the house. Collins said, “There is a lot of history to this house,” and some villagers have already shared stories from the past.
“It’s really about community and the people,” Collins said. With space for 30 people, there is plenty of room for neighbours to sit and chat or for groups to meet. She has already planned to incorporate live entertainment and as she says, “Right now, the sky is the limit.”
Collins is a firm believer in community and is delighted by the opportunity to live out her dream in rural Manitoba in her own “back porch.”
Back Porch is located at 25143 Ste. Anne’s Road in Linden, Manitoba. Store hours are Monday to Wednesday 6:30 a. m. to 7 p. m., Thursday and Friday 6:30 a. m. to 9 p. m. and Saturday 9 a. m. to 9 p. m. For more information, call Back Porch at (204) 355-4869.
– Sheila Braun writes from Landmark, Manitoba