Airport arrival
Restaurant owner opens gift shop

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (May 03/00) - The Airport Gift Shop touched down last week. at the Yellowknife airport.

The shop is owned by Dwight Hickey, who also owns and operates the Connector Restaurant, located in the Yellowknife Airport building.

"At the restaurant, we were often asked why we did not sell gifts," said Hickey.

So when Arctic Airports put out a gift shop tender last year, Hickey said it made sense to respond.

Hickey is no stranger to retail. In New Brunswick he owned a boutique. He later moved to Yellowknife where he was first employed as head chef at a local hotel, He took over the Connector in April 1998.

As for the new gift shop, Hickey said many of the items on the shelves are being offered by consignment.

"We invite people to contact us," he said, about selling goods on consignment.

Prices range from about a dollar for a postcard to about $900 for original paintings. There are also several carvings.

And when asked about the tendency for airport gift shops to have high markups, Hickey said he plans to take the same approach to pricing as he does at the restaurant.

"Our restaurant has the lowest prices in North America," claims Hickey.

The owner said he wanted to ensure there was a wide range of souvenirs -- from a Yk coffee cup to a birch-bark basket decorated with porcupine quills -- people could pick up at the last minute.

Visitors will also recognize wares from downtown Yellowknife retailers.

Hickey said the gift shop will be open an hour before the first scheduled flight takes off in the morning.

The shop, which will generate three or four new full-time jobs, will remain open for the last batch of daily travellers as well.

The addition of the gift shop is among several changes at the airport. Other additions include polar bear and seal taxidermy at the luggage area and mining equipment along the front of the building.

The Yellowknife Airport is part of Arctic Airports, a GNWT Department of Transportation division.