It was opening day. Tuff was outside cutting the ceremonial ribbon and allowing the people outside in. It was being covered by a local newspaper, and just about everyone in town was there.
Carstella was sitting behind the counter, she wore a black apron with ‘Thorston Boutique’ embroidered in lime green on the chest.
The doors opened and people began to flood in. Carstella greeted them all with a cheerful,
Everyone was looking around and picking out items.
Carstella got up and asked a man who was standing near the counter with a couple of items in his arms if he would like a changing room. He nodded and the red eyed girl put him in one at the end. Many other people where lining up to try things on.
Tuff was at the front of the store talking to the reporter and Stoik, who was officially the mayor again. He glanced over to the dark haired girl many times, he was concerned she was soon going to be over whelmed and tried to hurry the interview along, with the reporter and Stoik wouldn’t really allow.
He glanced back about five minutes later to see the girl taking things calmly and happily; making change, taking down appointments for tailoring, setting aside a couple of items with names on them on the bags, bagging up items, cleaning out the change rooms and moving the lines along in a clean, orderly, and well timed manner.
When the majority of the crowd began to calm down and there were only about twelve or so people left in the store, Carstella started returning items to their places on the sales area.
Tuff was still busy with the reporter, but was more than surprised to see how well she took care of the situation. She was used to high stress and deadly situations after all, something like this probably wasn’t even going to faze her at all.
There were only about three or four people left in the store at about four in the after noon, excluding the mayor, reporter, owner and sales woman.
“Thank you for your time.” The reporter said, “Would you mind if I took a look around?”
“Be my guest, please.” Tuff told her.
The reporter started looking around the store, specifically the dresses.
Stoik nodded approvingly at the blonde. Tuff swelled in pride. His parents, sister, friends, fiance, and now mayor were all proud of him, he should feel accomplished.
“How’s things going back here?” He asked Carstella as he stood behind the counter next to her.
“Good.” She said looking over at him, “Sales have been even higher than we first expected, and we have fifteen tailor jobs as well, I told them to bring by their garments tomorrow, is that okay?”
Tuff nodded and smiled at her as he brought the dark haired girl into a side hug and kissed her head.
“You’re amazing.” He told her as he looked over the numbers that they had right now. In between transactions Carstella had been recording the amount earned.
Carstella stood up as Tuff continued over the numbers as she got another customer into a fitting room.
Tuff whistled as Carstella came back over.
“A lot more than we expected.”
She nodded, “I don’t think every day will be as busy as this one.”
Tuff nodded, “Berk doesn’t really get anyone who doesn’t already live here, is visiting family or the delivery men from the main land.”
“Maybe we change that.” Carstella said.
Tuff looked at her weird.
“Every Thursday night is town meeting, no?” She asked, he nodded, “Are suggestions not taken during these?”
He shrugged, Tuff had admitted to not paying any kind of attention during the meetings if his parents ever even took him.
The store closed at six.
Tuff locked up and counted the money in the register as Carstella started putting the cloths back on their racks and cleaning out the fitting rooms, sweeping, and wiping down the glass and counter.
Carstella put enough change in the register to break money the next day.
Tuff brought the rest of the money downstairs to his work shop where he kept his safe.
They were done for the night, and were glad they got through it together.
Thursday night had rolled around, the meeting didn’t start until eight. Carstella and Tuff closed up and ate dinner before bundling up and heading out to the town hall.
It was about an hour and a half into the meeting Tuff was getting restless. But just as he was about at his wit’s end, Stoik asked if anyone had anything that they wanted to say.
Carstella stood awkwardly.
Stoik asked her to proceed.
“I might be new here.” She said slowly, trying to enunciate her words to be fully understood so her Russian accent didn’t show at all, “But I have come to the realization how wonderful this place is, and that it is almost completely self-sufficient. I was thinking, that maybe, we could launch a campaign to make Berk something for tourists.”
“And how might you suggest we do that?” Another newsperson called to her.
She swallowed hard before continuing, “Marketing local stores with their unique products, the restaurants. We can offer the ability to stay on a farm or take hay rides, we can turn part of the forest into a camping ground, offer guided tours around the mountains showing the tourists local plants and teaching them about it. There are options, but I’m not sure I can come up with a lot of them on my own.”
“I think you have a wonderful idea, Carstella.” Stoik told her, “There are options here in Berk, and there are many things we can market, Berk has more history, culture, and far less crime than a lot less of the world. We’ve been almost completely self sufficient for over eighty years now, I think it is time that we may break the mold and start a tourist industry. If any of you have ideas please leave them in the suggestion box near the door.”
Carstella then sat down, her point being heard.
“And if you aren’t too busy, Carstella.” Stoik called to her, “Maybe you would like to head the movement.”
“I’ll think about it.” She said slowly as she tried to disapear into her chair.
“I think you could do it.” Astrid said as she sipped on her tea while sitting next to Carstella behind the counter of the shop, “You have a lot of ideas and creativity along with a lot of prior business experience.”
Carstella shrugged as she wrote down the meaning of a snake tattoo down beside it.
“I don’t know.” She said unsurely, “I mean I still have a lot to do for the F.B.I., and then the store and Tuff on top of that, I mean we are getting married.”
“I know, and I can’t believe he actually asked you!” She exclaimed.
“But with the new store, and if the tourist plan does go as we want it too you guys could hire some part timers, the teenagers around here are always looking for some part time gig to save up and buy stuff of their own.” Ruff encouraged, she was on her lunch break and decided to pop in and say hi to Carstella and Astrid.
“I’ll talk to Tuff about it.” Carstella said quietly as she closed the binder of tattoos and opened a file of incriminated letters in order to decode them.
“It looks complex.” Astrid said looking over Carstella’s shoulder.
“Not if you know it.” She told the blondes, “It’s one of the most sophisticated systems in the world, but when you familiar with it, it almost second language.”
“Here’s your chance.”Ruff said as she stood up, Astrid following suit and they exited calling back good byes.
“What’s their problem?” Tuff asked bringing up three or four paper bags with orders stapled to them up from the basement.
“Can we talk?” Carstella asked as she cleared up the tea cups.
“I don’t have a problem with it.” Tuff said to her as they sat behind the counter, “I mean I know it’s important to you.”
“But this is important to you.” She told him, “I want to be part of it.”
“And you are.” He assured her, “But I think you should focus on maybe getting the tourism plan in motion. I mean, you still want to write those books on the gangs and mafia, right? I think this could be what you need, and if we hire a couple more part timers you could have the time for it.”
“What about the wedding?” She asked meekly.
Tuff kissed her forehead gingerly, “We can get married when ever you want too, but I think I can say that we need to focus a little more on our careers first and getting completely comfortable before we do get married.”
Carstella nodded and smiled to the ground, Tuff had raised multiple good points. It would be good for her to put her energy into something productive like that rather than just her government work. And when they just opened it wouldn’t be a very good idea to start planning a wedding. It wasn’t that they were moving too fast, but the timing wasn’t exactly right.
“If you’re okay with it.” She said after a moment.
“I am, you need some positivity after all the negativity you do for them.” He told her, refering to the government.
“Alright.” She said with a shrug and pulled out her cell phone. Carstella sent out a quick text message to Stoik saying she would take over as the leading act for the plan as soon as they got a couple new employes.
Tuff smiled at her as she looked up from her phone and nodded saying she had accepted.
Carstella took a seat next to Stoik in the board room, she shifted a little in her seat feeling uncomfortable.
As everyone was starting to enter the room, Carstella looked over the suggestions that the people had for bringing in tourists. They actually had a lot of good ideas, but the thing was, most of them were seasonal.
“Have you had enough time to look them over?” Stoik asked the brunette when everyone had come in.
She nodded, Stoik sat down at the end of the table and motioned for her to stand up, she did.
“They are all very good ideas.” She said slowly, “They can bring in a lot of tourists and money. There is just one real concern, and that is that all the suggestions are seasonal, taking place in the short summer we have here.”
“That’s really all the time we have.” Stoik told her, “It can be very hard to get ships in during the other seasons.”
“What about ice breakers?” She asked, “They are really just large drills that are attached to the bottoms and front of a large ship that would need to go through the ice once a day to keep the way open. It might be a large sum, but it would be worth it, maybe.” She explained seeing the confused looks on some of their faces.
“How much is a lot?” Stoik asked.
“Fifty thousand.” She said with a shrug. The entirety of the board just looked at her in disbelief.
“If we don’t want to shell out that amount of money,” She continued, “How thick is the ice usually?”
“I good foot and a half on average.” Spitelout told her.
She nodded, “That would be safe enough to walk and even ride on.” She said, “Dog sleds and snowmobiles could be a good alternative, even yak drawn carriages to and from a port on the edge of ice. It’s do able.”
They all thought for a moment.
“Fernhilda!” Stoik yelled out to his secretary.
Ruff came bounding in and stood straight in her spot at the door waiting for Stoik to continue with what he wanted.
“Do you have the reports of animals on every farm from last year?” He asked her.
“I’ll grab you that right now.” She said and closed the door, she came back about five minutes later and handed the file over to Stoik.
“Thank you.” He said to her as he accepted it.
“It’ll be speedier when I finish fixing the filing system.” She told him and took her leave.
Stoik looked over the numbers before saying.
“Mulch, do you think that you and the rest of the farmers would be willing to share four yaks each to give the rides?”
Mulch thought for a moment, “I don’t think any of us would have a problem if it would produce a higher gross income.”
Stoik nodded, “Early fall and late spring would be the only harder times for transportation.”
“About how long are we talking for that time?” Carstella asked.
“Two or three weeks each season.” Stoik said.
“March-April, and September-November?” She asked.
“About.” Stoik told her.
“We can market as open the rest of the year then.” She told them and marked down the approximate time that they wouldn’t be open, “It isn’t that uncommon for attractions to be closed during certain times. The next thing would be lodging. We can either go with home stays, or build a hotel as I suggest we do, eventually anyway.”
“I think home stays would be the best idea for the first little while anyway.” Spitelout suggested.
“Are there any empty houses we could maybe use as luxury lodges?” She asked.
“There are four empty houses last time I checked.” Stoik said, “I think Gothi said that she wouldn’t mind turning her house into a bed and breakfast, so right there are a good ten or so more rooms.”
“We should then take the year as an experiment,” Carstella suggested, “From there we can see if we should build the hotel or if the lodges and bed and breakfast that will do.”
They nodded and we all wrote something down.
“What could be used as winter tourism?” She asked.
The conversation continued on about what to advertise, what attractions to have, booking information, ways to contact, and how to advertise.
It was almost ten at night when they had gotten a good start.
Carstella said she would go home and try to come up with more ideas and way to perfect and polish their ideas.
Papers, note books, pens, and coffee were strewn over Carstella’s desk, a large plate of Shepard’s pie in her lap as she read over everything she had written and considered everything.
“Still working?” Tuff asked from the doorway.
Carstella nodded and gave a sheepish smile.
“Coffee?” He asked.
She nodded and handed him her cup. Tuff took it and headed into the kitchen to refill it for her. He came back and placed it onto her desk.
“Come to bed when you’re ready.” He told her, he was going to kiss her on the cheek but she moved her head so they ended up kissing each other on the lips.
“Sleep tight.” She whispered.
“Don’t stay up too late.” He whispered back.
Carstella turned her attention back to the ideas in front of her.
Tuff was right, she admitted to herself. It was good for her to put some energy into something positive like this for the community. She only wished that she could keep her promise to him.