Whether you’re a local or a tourist, it’s easy to fall in love with the municipality of Fort Erie. With both the Niagara River and Lake Erie to enjoy, the quaint spot is filled with charm.
The local community has many businesses dedicated to providing customers with the best products and experiences. These six spots highlight what Fort Erie has to offer.
For Phil Smith, Crystal Beach has always had a special place in his heart. Growing up in the community, he fell in love with what it had to offer and wanted to be able to contribute to rebuilding the spot after the closure of the popular amusement park.
Opening Hotel Philco in November 2022, Smith’s main goal was to help bring life back to the area.
“Without the hotel, maybe those people aren’t in Crystal Beach,” Smith stated. Since opening, the hotel has seen tourists from around the world.
“We’ve had people from Germany, we’ve had people from Britain, we’ve had people throughout Europe, we’ve had people from across Canada.”
What makes the spot so special is the whimsical-themed rooms. Each of the seven (soon to be fourteen) rooms has a different theme, such as glam, beer, cabin and more.
“Each experience is different. So each time you see a different room, it’s a completely different hotel in a way,” Smith states.
“Not only do you get to explore a really cool village, that’s within a really cool town, that’s within a really cool region, you get to have a pretty unique experience while doing that.”— Phil Smith, Owner, Hotel Philco
Starting in the kitchen of Roxena Nigh’s family farm in 1958, the local chocolate shop has since moved to its current Stevensville location and is now run by Roxena’s son Richard Nigh and daughter-in-law, Rebecca.
The sweet shop has become a generational tradition for many locals. The love that customers have for the popular treats has kept them coming back for decades.
“We have such a loyal customer base. We are just so, so honoured,” Nigh states. “With some customers, I’ve seen the children grow up and now they’re bringing their kids. It’s so neat.”
Nigh’s Sweet Shop serves endless supplies of chocolate and other treats, but Rebecca says some of their most popular items include chocolate drizzled caramel corn, Nigh bars and chocolate-covered licorice.
“Our customers are really invested in our success, they are so supportive.”— Rebecca Nigh, Co-Owner, Nigh’s Sweet Shop
With six different Picards Peanuts locations, the Fort Erie shop was the last to open its doors in 2019.
The family-owned business, which started in Simcoe, has been around since 1979 and is easily recognizable with its traditional blue barn exterior.
Named “Home of the Ontario Peanut”, the spot offers a variety of products including their popular chip nuts and brings in visitors from around the globe.
Store Manager, Sandra Ferguson, says the location is a very popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
“Over summer we have tourists from all over the world,” Ferguson states. When it comes to new customers, “word of mouth” is one of the main ways people come through the door.
When it comes to running a decor and lifestyle boutique, Sarah Chevalier says it’s in her blood.
Growing up in antique shops, always decorating, and helping her father build furniture, it was only a matter of time before she started running Lasting Impressions Gifts and Clothing.
Nestled into the heart of Ridgeway, the adorable shop sells a little bit of everything, including home decor, clothing, accessories, and baby toys.
Chevalier says there are three rules when it comes to stocking the shelves in her store, “It either has to make me laugh, smile or make me happy in some way.”
While there are a variety of customers that visit, the support and love from local customers are truly what makes the shop so special.
“It’s been locals through and through that have kept me alive,” Chevalier says. “They’re amazing. They’re the heartbeat.”
“It’s our heartbeat to make sure that every experience is positive.”— Sarah Chevalier, Owner, Lasting Impressions Gifts and Clothing
Nichole L’Hirondelle, owner of Barnswallow Tea and Book Shop Inc., focuses on selling Indigenous books, teas and learning tools.
Opening its doors in March of this year, L’Hirondelle says choosing Bridgeburg was an important part of the business.
“There’s the Niagara River here. And the Niagara River, of course, is really traditional and sacred to a lot of Indigenous people. So I’m right on the Niagara River and that means a lot to me.”
“Fort Erie also has one of the higher concentrations of Indigenous people in all of Niagara. There is a very active Friendship Centre here.”
One of L’Hirondelle’s main goals is to ensure her customers are always happy. She hosts a book club and gets authors in for book signings. The shop also has a program where you can pay it forward and buy a cup of tea or coffee for a future visitor to the shop. The space is the perfect spot to continue to nourish the community.
Did You Know?
Abatement Technologies, a 76-year-old family owned and operated company from Fort Erie, recently built a new state-of-the-art 100,000 sq/ft manufacturing facility and global headquarters at 1481 Harber Court.
The new space will leverage innovative manufacturing and production processes in a purpose-built facility designed to support the company’s strategic long-term growth plans!
Businesses in Fort Erie such as Hotel Philco, Nigh’s Sweet Shop, Picards Peanuts, Lasting Impressions Gifts and Clothing, Barnswallow Tea and Book Shop Inc., and Abatement Technologies, are extremely dedicated to their customers.
With these six spots always ensuring they offer the best experiences and products, it’s hard to not fall in love with local shops around the area. Which in turn, makes it easy to fall in love with Fort Erie and all it has to offer.