A shop that sells Tintin collectibles alongside beautiful lotions, soaps, fountain pens, ceramics, calendars, stationery and their own line of tea has got my vote as being one of the most eclectic, elegant and also one of my favourite shops in Steveston.
Nikaido owners Joe and Sara Cocker purchased the established business in 1998. The original shop (which opened in 1988) was located upstairs in the Hepworth building, however when the Cockers took over it was in its present location. Neither Joe nor Sara came from a retail background, yet they took to the challenge and made Nikaido uniquely their own. It was thanks to Sara’s father, who noticed that the business was for sale, and thought it would be the right fit for them, that Steveston has the pleasure of having Nikaido as an anchor business which attracts fans from far and wide to the calm and friendly shop.
Joe grew up on Salt Spring Island (not many people can claim that) and Sara is from Edmonton. In the 1990s they met in Toronto where they were both working, and married there in 1996. They came from diverse backgrounds. Joe worked in the film industry where he made props and did paint finishing on sets. Sara came from an administrative background.
Joe and Sara are an extremely tasteful couple. Their attire is impeccable and reflects the pride that they take in their business. Joe mentioned that the best piece of business advice he ever received was from Harlan Olsen, of Harlan’s Chocolates on Salt Spring Island. Olsen’s words of wisdom were to always acknowledge customers with a hello and goodbye. The Cockers have taken that advice to heart and it makes for a personal connection with their customers.
Their four year old dachshund Beckett is the shop mascot and likes to sleep behind the cash desk and also greets customers. In addition to Beckett, they have two cats in their Richmond home, a handsome Siamese cat named Linus and an energetic Abyssinian cat named Fraser.
Although not everyone may be familiar with the classic comic book character TIntin, created by Belgian author Hergé in the late 1920s, you soon will know the young reporter and his dog Snowy. Stephen Spielberg’s feature film The Adventures of Tintin is coming to the big screen on December 21st. Joe and Sara share a common love for Tintin, and there has been a definite Tintin presence in the shop for quite some time.
Tea has become one of Nikaido’s trademarks; they started slowly, with seven varieties, and now sell over 150 blends, the most popular teas being Cream Earl Grey and Steveston Blend. Another popular item at Nikaido is pens, and in particular the fountain pen, which fascinates all age groups. Nikaido does a wonderful job of offering gift ideas for both men and women. Gifts that they recommend include the humorous book F in Exams: The Best Test Paper Blunders, the limited edition Star Wars Moleskin, and Royal Doulton’s colourful little Tapas bowls which were recently featured in Oprah magazine.
When asked what they think about the filming in the village of the ABC TV series Once Upon A Time, Joe and Sara say that it has not yet impacted sales, but they are hopeful that people will visit “Storybrooke”, adding to the list of Steveston’s attractions. During filming, Nikaido turns into Standard Clocks and there have been a few customers who have come in wishing to see a clock on display in the window. The entire Hepworth building has been transformed to become Storybrooke businesses, and it is a very exciting time to be a Steveston merchant.
What do they like about Steveston? They enjoy the fact that it is laid back, and that it is neither perfectly polished nor gentrified. They love walking down the street and seeing people that they know. Coming from a cold prairie background, Sara loves the rain. Joe enjoys visiting thrift stores.
Sara and Joe can be found frequently working in the shop. One of their long time staff members recently retired after twenty years with Nikaido. Another staff member has been with them for ten years. Their goal for Nikaido is to keep up the standards, while communicating style, and offering a relaxing environment. Their other long standing goal is to get their website up and running, and based on their home page which is online, it is going to be a class act, in true Nikaido-style.
150 – 3580 Moncton Street, Steveston Village, Richmond BC
~by Sarah Gordon ~photos by Brechin Maclean Photography