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Dildo businesses having the last laugh after Jimmy Kimmel puts Newfoundland town in spotlight

Letters measuring 10 feet high and five feet wide on a hill overlooking the tiny Trinity Bay town of Dildo — population 1,500 — were put in place this week, thanks to American TV talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel. The letters — the cost of which were covered by Kimmel’s producers, along with land donation by the Smith families in the town — were installed to mirror the Hollywood hills letters in California.
Letters measuring 10 feet high and five feet wide on a hill overlooking the tiny Trinity Bay town of Dildo — population 1,500 — were put in place this week, thanks to American TV talk-show host Jimmy Kimmel. The letters — the cost of which were covered by Kimmel’s producers, along with land donation by the Smith families in the town — were installed to mirror the Hollywood hills letters in California. - Contributed photo

Increased attention, visits has meant a spike in sales for area restaurants, stores

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

It started as a joke by Jimmy Kimmel to get laughs by poking fun at a Newfoundland town’s unusual name, but Dildo business owners are laughing all the way to the bank.

By creating worldwide attention, the Emmy Award-winning American late-night TV talk show host has put the tiny Trinity Bay town of 1,500 on the map these past few weeks, and sales at restaurants and shops in Dildo and surrounding areas have been booming.

Colleen Morrissey, owner of Inn by the Bay, said her business has increased by at least 40 per cent since the Kimmel hype began.

“I can’t tell you how great this has been for us. I couldn’t pay for this kind of advertising,” said Morrissey, daughter of former Newfoundland singing legend Joan Morrissey, who has owned the business for the last five years.

“Normally, after the (Royal St. John’s) Regatta, things slow down for us. Now, we’re booked right up until the end of September. It’s been unbelievable. We’re getting calls from all around the world, mostly from the U.S. All because of Jimmy Kimmel.”

Kimmel, having fun with the town’s name, has featured Dildo on his ABC show over the last few weeks and interviewed residents on his late-night ABC show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Residents have also been thrilled that a celebrity like Kimmel — who has hosted the Academy Awards and was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time Magazine last year — has put their town in the international spotlight.

Kimmel even waged a mock campaign to be named mayor and featured the town several times on his show in the last few weeks, interviewing residents and even sending a production crew there, including his sidekick host, Guillermo Rodriguez.

Members of his team have posted “Jimmy (hearts) Dildo. Kimmel for mayor” placards and banners on local properties. On Thursday night, Kimmel was named honorary mayor, an occurrence that was also featured on his show.

“My God, it’s been a riot having them all here,” said Morrissey, who was shown on one of the shows and had close to 30,000 hits on Facebook after posting a photo of her hugging Rodriguez. “The entire community has benefited from this. There’s enough to go around for everybody.”

Karen McDonald, owner of Dildo Cove Coffee and Krafts — which was the headquarters for Kimmel’s shows — has been overwhelmed by the people coming through her door in the last two weeks.

“There has been a big change for my business,” said McDonald, who started the business in 2015 when she moved from Quebec. “It’s just booming here and I’m so proud. People are coming from everywhere, to get coffee or ice cream or just to get pictures taken in front of the shop. We never thought something like this would ever happen here. It’s big publicity for everyone.”

New businesses have even popped up in the last few weeks, including a T-shirt shop selling Kimmel attire, adjacent to the Dildo Brewery Company.

“But it’s not just us who is getting a boost,” said Morrissey, who is selling the inn as a result of some personal changes in her life. 

“The whole province will see a lot of people come here because of this, no doubt.”

Local bus and tour companies have seen an upsurge in inquiries about trips to Dildo in the past few weeks.

Kim Hewlett, motor-coach manager at Parsons and Sons Transportation — which specializes in group transportation — said the attention the town has received from the Kimmel show has sparked interest from people wanting to visit.

“We’ve had tour companies contact us requesting tours for multiple people going to Dildo,” said Hewlett, noting their motor-coaches accommodate 56 passengers, while their smaller buses can hold fewer people.

“I think (Dildo) has been on the upswing for a while, especially with the brewery out there. I think everyone loves it, even more so now.”

Julie White, owner and operator of Mobile Goat Excursions, which organizes customized trips anywhere in the province, said she gets plenty of requests for private excursions to Dildo. But with the added attention on the town lately, she plans to modify her website offerings to highlight Dildo.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to attract more business,” said White, who started the business in 2017. “It would make it a lot easier to find us, for sure.

“But Dildo is a beautiful spot and it’s great that Jimmy Kimmel showed it to the world.”

rosie.mullaley@thetelegram.com
Twitter: TelyRosie

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