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Chester village character inspires design by Barry Redmond
Chester village character inspires design by Barry Redmond Mark Roberts
Lighthouse staff

 CHESTER - B. Redmond Design and Construction Ltd. in Chester is responsible for the widely-praised restoration of the former Reddens Hardware Store.

 Owner-operator and designer Barry Redmond says he previously worked with owner Sheila Blain on Half Pint House in Chester.

 "The first time I worked with Sheila we had a good rapport together and her ideas and sense of design - knowing what she wanted from the beginning - I could easily transpose. Overall, it was a treat to do this, especially with the finishing touches provided by Sheila and Charmaine to create the overall look of the front space (Fiasco)."

 The building was in bad shape, he says, and, therefore, he owes much of the credit for the final product to his employees. "It doesn't only take a good design and good customer but it takes a good work crew and subtrades to pull it all together. It was a fair challenge of a job because of the condition it was in when we started."

 As before, he says, he worked well with the business partners. "Realizing the position of the building in the village I knew I wanted to do something to portray the traditional character of Chester and have an opportunity to spruce up the village."

 He continued, "There was a lot of rot and crookedness in the building, all those things put together. It became a much more extensive project than when we set out but the results are probably even better than what I had envisioned. The whole facade was basically rebuilt and the roof was straightened."

 The upstairs apartment was, "completely gutted," he says. It now has a cathedral ceiling and view of the harbour. The apartment has already been rented.

 The project started during the second week of December and was essentially completed by the middle of May, thanks to an unusually warm winter.

 Also, Mr. Redden says, they needed to create two focal points to entice people into both sections of the L-shaped building. "We wanted to create a view plane that would entice people to come into the back part of the store. That's why the angled dormer and the double doors were used, creating an area that invites you in."

 The building also has public hall spaces with ceramic tiles, men's and women's bathrooms, a wheelchair-accessible deck and a heritage red tin roof. Use of overhangs and traditional trim along with traditional siding and windows complete the building.

 The results, Mr. Zwicker says, have been worth the effort.

 "The day I came to the grand opening I walked over the hill coming past the post office and looked down the street basically for the first time. It just transformed the whole end of the street along with the other work everyone at the end of the street seems to be doing. I'm proud of having an opportunity to do something to improve the overall look of the downtown area, which was much needed."

Six businesses move into newly-renovated building

 CHESTER - The co-owner of Fiasco and Chester's newest renovated building remembers shopping at the former hardware store when she moved to the village 19 years ago.

 Sheila Blain says, "I remember going down to the basement to buy all our glass. They cut it in the basement. I remember them mixing the different paints."

 She continues, "We just felt it was worth saving. It was part of downtown Chester that needed to be revitalized."

 She gives the credit for the widely-praised renovation to Chester designer Barry Redmond. "We sort of think along the same lines. The first plan he came up with was wonderful, which we stuck with. We only changed some very minor things."

 There are six spaces in the building. They are: Fiasco; Mary MacInnis, CGA; East Coast Vacuums and The Progress Enterprise; and Slipcovers, etc. by Jill and The Sewing Studio. Another business is preparing to move into the building.

 Mrs. Blain says she didn't have a theme in mind for the retail outlet. "I just wanted to keep the prices in line and have good tenants. They've been really great so far."

 Mrs. Blain has known her partner, Charmaine Conrad, for six years. "She had Brier Rose in Hubbards which kept shrinking as the landlord needed more space for their business. I was looking for something to do so that I could still spend half my year in Florida. I'm married to an American. Over a bottle of wine, we came up with this business."

 The business name, she says with a laugh, came naturally. "We had a cutsy name that we weren't quite satisfied with. One day everything had gone bad for us and we were actually driving to Bridgewater to register our partnership when I said, 'this is nothing but a fiasco.' We started laughing and said that's the name."

  She adds she remembers one or two fiascoes involved with the store. One day, she says for example, they were moving items in storage to the store. A dresser fell off the truck on Pleasant Street, blocking traffic in every direction. "Charmaine and I were trying to hold ourselves up in the middle of the intersection. We were laughing so hard. All cars were stopped in all four directions. It was our first fiasco; living up to our name as the Fiasco women."

  Possibly the most exciting news for Chester area men involves a long-time joke in the community. "You can't buy underwear and socks in Chester." Mrs. Blain says, "Eleven men so far have asked us for underwear and socks. We now have a basketful of underwear and socks, courtesy of Jim Rofihe (in Bridgewater)."

  The business depicts the two women's distinct personalities, she says. "It's definitely very ecletic. You can tell there's two personalities involved. We have totally different tastes but it has worked so far."

  She continues, "We've tried to use a lot of people locally, we're trying to bring in a lot of practical things people haven't been able to get in Chester and we try to stay different from other shops, which I think we've done. We have a very good rapport with the other shops. We send a lot of customers back and forth. Don't compete, complement."

 The number and range of products are wide. They run from a small garden section to crafts and furniture, she says, to a children's section to, "lots of clothing" and a kitchen section.

 "You can't describe it. You have to come in and see it for yourself."

 On prices, she says, "You have to keep it accessible to everyone. We don't want people walking in saying we can't afford to go there and then tell all their friends."

 She continues, "It's been hard work but it's been fun too. I'm glad it's all together."

Charmaine Conrad and Sheila Blain

  Jun 9, 1999  
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