Archive for the ‘Story by Sarah Gordon’ Category

Balloon Place

Monday, February 6th, 2017

It’s Time to Celebrate!

Balloon Place Steveston mickey mouse themeTammy Still and I arranged to meet at a Steveston coffee shop in December. Not having met, she told me I would easily recognize her – she would be carrying balloons. She arrived with a large Christmas arrangement designed with a festive foil bear as the centrepiece, and offered this gift to the excited staff to add a festive touch to the restaurant.

Both generous and marketing savvy, her balloon arrangement became a calling card to direct people to her new Steveston business, Balloon Place, on First Avenue in the former home of Bell’s Bake Shop.

Balloon Place opened last June on the third floor of the same building where it is now located. It was not convenient for passers-by and Tammy was keen to find a more visible location. When the street level storefront became available she was thrilled.

Balloon Place Steveston Tammy StillHow did she reach the decision to establish her business in Steveston? She says, “There is no other store of its kind in Richmond.” Tammy felt there was a demand for colourful, cheerful balloons, which captivate people of all ages with their celebratory ‘it’s party time’ energy.

Tammy mentions in the 1980s she wanted to throw elaborate parties for her nephews when but it was not in her budget so she learnt balloon art. While the business concept did not take off until much later the seed had been planted; she loved the artistry of balloon arrangement.

Balloon Place is open seven days a week to ensure customers can access over 1,000 balloons.

Tammy jokes with a warm smile, “I am a workaholic who forgot to have kids.” In fact, she may be the biggest kid of all, and owning a business that makes people happy is her driving force.

Tammy worked as a realtor in her native Los Angeles until she eventually chose to leave the United States, largely because of the American medical system. She relocated to Calgary and continued to work in real estate until the market slumped and then she headed to the Lower Mainland to work in strata management. She realized this job was not for her and the time had arrived to follow her passion; she shifted gears and began working with Vancouver based business JC Balloon Studio.

Balloon Place Steveston 12211 First Ave interiorTammy moved to Steveston in 2007 where she lives with her husband and business partner Steve Olson. She loves the community and decided last year to venture out and set up an old-fashioned mum and pop store. She mentions, “I am ecstatic to be here. I have always wanted to be part of a small community. I love the mix of cultures; there is something very special about Steveston.”

She appreciates the small town feeling where events like the Steveston Merchants Association’s Scarecrow Crawl, Girls’ Night Out and Christmas in Steveston Village bring the streets to life and benefit local businesses. She hopes that her unique business will continue to draw more shoppers to the area.

There is something magical about balloons that put a smile on people’s faces.

Tammy says, “If you can imagine it, we can make it.” Orders of any size are possible, from a single special balloon to a bouquet that can fill a room for a special event.

Whether you are celebrating the birth of a baby, a birthday, sweet sixteen, graduation, marriage or retirement, balloons add the crowning touch. Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day and Canada Day are made more special with the addition of colourful balloons.

Tammy points out, “Variety is key. If you have a dream balloon, Balloon Place is likely to have it.” Some clients know exactly what they want (Pinterest has sparked many design requests) but if you are stumped for an idea Tammy is happy to use her artistry to create an arrangement. She mentions a wishing well she constructed from balloons for a wedding. The guests tossed wishes in for the bride and groom and it was a huge hit.

If by chance Balloon Place doesn’t carry the balloon you have in mind they will hunt it down with enough notice. Some customers have been known to bring in their own balloons for filling. In addition, Balloon Place rents helium tanks if you prefer to cut down on costs to fill balloons for your event. Tammy’s goal is to keep prices affordable.

“The best part of my business is the happiness it brings.” Tammy Still

Balloon Place Steveston 12211 First AveCorporate and charity events are a large part of their business. It is not uncommon to receive an order for as many as 5,000 balloons to create an arch, column or canopy to fill a convention centre. Balloon walls and sculptures are other popular options. The film industry also utilizes their service. Balloon Place works with JC Balloon Studio to fill large orders. Tammy says they have a wonderful relationship with owner Carlos Gonzalez and will always continue to help each other.

If a special occasion is calling out for the finishing touch, pop in to meet Tammy and Steve at Balloon Place. You can’t miss the happy helium balloon bouquets floating in the storefront window, enticing customers to come inside.

Balloon Place
110-12211 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3M3
Telephone 604-284-2565
www.balloonplace.ca

Britannia Steveston Local Craft Beer and Food

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Britannia Steveston Trystam, Lloyd, Kyle

A Hip New Vibe for the Village

Anchors aweigh! One of Steveston’s newest restaurants, Britannia Steveston Local Craft Beer and Food, has now been open for six months. Housed in a beautiful nautically influenced space designed to complement Steveston’s waterfront location, this restaurant offers a menu built around local food and craft beer from their own brewery.

Back in 2014 Steveston residents and friends Kyle Brailean, Trystam Hayden and Lloyd Kinney joined forces to start a craft beer brewery, which they named Britannia Brewing Company.

The enterprising partners joke and say the brewery is on the small size. The pint-sized 1,200 square foot space is packed with brewing equipment and to date has brewed 20,000 litres of craft beer. Kyle, Trystam and Lloyd are all actively involved and acknowledge the fine work of their full-time head brewer Mike Nicholson.

Britannia Steveston eat drinkTheir long-term vision was to open up a restaurant to serve as a tasting room for their brewery. In an ideal world the two establishments would have been housed under one roof but due to Steveston’s zoning regulations, which have subsequently changed, they set up in Ironwood. In August 2016 the restaurant opened at the corner of Bayview Street and Second Avenue.

“Steveston has the charm and friendly vibe that I grew up with. What better place to showcase our beer.” Kyle Brailean

The south facing restaurant is filled with light. Wood sided walls painted white, classic white subway tiles behind the bar, woven seat barstools, industrial style pendant and hanging lantern lighting and a gorgeous family size table the trio constructed from reclaimed wood are all part of the space’s inviting atmosphere.

Britannia Steveston Kyle Brailean Lloyd KinneyKyle, Trystam and Lloyd have pooled their talents and are burning the midnight oil as they juggle family life (they all have wives and young children), the brewery, the restaurant, and in the case of Kyle and Lloyd, two careers. Kyle is a welder with B.C. Ferries. He comes from a family of brewers and says, “For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a brewer like my grandfather.”

Britannia Steveston Trystam HaydenTrystam works full-time at the restaurant and also assists at the brewery. He has an extensive background in restaurant management; his family owns Sydney’s Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Australia’s oldest brew pub. He met his Richmond-born wife while she was visiting Australia and they moved to Canada in 2014.

Lloyd comes from the business side. Lloyd’s construction team from his company MLK Properties worked alongside Lloyd, Kyle and Trystam to gut and rebuild the restaurant’s interior. Lloyd’s wife Adrienne Kinney is a designer and was thrilled to have a rare opportunity to design a restaurant from a shell.

“We’re excited about growing our business locally the craft way. We’re confident we will build a successful and scalable brand for our brewery and Steveston restaurant.” Lloyd Kinney

Currently, Britannia Brewery Company primarily brews for the restaurant. They also sell kegs to O’Hare’s GastroPub and canned beer to select B.C. Liquor Stores (Ironwood, Seafair and a few independents). At this point they are producing at one third of their potential capacity and intend to expand their canned beer production. Their vision is slow and steady wins the race. Their top priorities are to produce the best quality craft beer and to grow the local market first.

Craft beer is defined as made by hand in small batches with an emphasis on distinctive full-bodied tastes and aromas achieved by using local ingredients. As examples, in some of their batches Britannia Brewing Company uses tea from Steveston businesses Adorabelle Tea Room and chocolate from Sinfully the Best.

“Britannia Brewing Company aims to brew with British tradition and West Coast ingenuity using the best seasonal ingredients we can get.” Trystam Hayden

The restaurant offers six distinct craft beers on tap to choose from: Adrift Hop Blonde Ale (inspired by the surrounding ocean and mountains), Ashore Rye Porter (a twist on the traditional brown style porter), Wave Crusader XPA (falling somewhere between a British pale ale and American IPA), Rye India Pale Ale (with big resiny grapefruit and tropical fruit aromas), Chai Saison (refreshing and effervescent farmhouse ale using a chai tea blend) and Biere De Garde (a strong pale ale brewed with a Belgium farmhouse yeast, toffee malt and aromas of dried fruits).

Beer can be purchased in glasses or select a tasting flight of four 6 ounce glasses to compare and contrast tastes. If you are looking to have a full craft beer experience, inquire about the upcoming ticketed beer dinner, a four-course paired meal.

Coming soon, the trio hopes their application to sell growlers at the Ironwood brewery will meet final approval. They will also be offering cask nights biweekly and restaurant guests will have the chance to try one-off beers. They could be winners, or not, it is all about experimenting as interesting ingredients such as blueberries, jalapeno or chocolate may be added to a cask.

Mirroring the pride they take in their craft beer, Kyle, Trystam and Lloyd strive to feature as many local products as possible. They shine the spotlight on quality and don’t cut corners.

The restaurant’s menu rotates six times a year. A sampling of share plate selections include charcuterie featuring locally cured meat by Steveston’s own D Original Sausage Haus, stuffed Yorkies (roasted beef, horseradish aioli, au jus) and a salmon board (pate, house gravlax, smoked salmon, local sourdough, citrus aioli). Select main dishes include crab and chili spaghettini (shell pasta, farmhouse cheddar, reggiano and parsley), Britannia beer battered fish and chips (Ocean Wise cod), Nepalese chicken curry and their signature grass fed burger (local beef from Pemberton, B.C.’s Two Rivers Specialty Meats), along with other tempting offerings in the share plate, soup and salad and main dish/handheld categories.Britannia Steveston Bayview StIf you are looking for a spot to have weekend brunch, stop by the restaurant on Saturdays and Sundays between 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. to enjoy tasty Two Rivers’ bacon, sausages from D Original Sausage Haus and free-range eggs.

Kyle, Trystam and Lloyd are eager to introduce people to the community they love. Through their niche business they are seeing craft beer enthusiasts who have never been to Steveston making the trip because they’ve caught wind of something exciting going on.

Kudos to Britannia Steveston Local Craft Beer and Food and Britannia Brewing Company for their role in helping put our fishing village on the map.

Britannia Steveston Local Craft Beer & Food
250-12240 Second Ave
Richmond, BC V7E 3L8
Telephone 604-270-9252
www.britanniasteveston.ca

Richmond Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Monday, February 6th, 2017

Richmond Hospital Aux Thrift Shop StevestonA Labour of Love.

Most Stevestonites are familiar with the stucco building on the corner of Chatham Street and Second Avenue with its red front and side doors. It was originally home to Steveston Methodist Church, which was constructed in 1894 with a subsequent addition to the back in 1925. In 1975 it relocated around the corner to Broadway Street and became Steveston United Church.

Over the years the structure served many purposes including retail space for a bicycle store. In 2007 the building became the Richmond Hospital Auxiliary (RHA) Thrift Shop’s new home when its former location on Moncton Street and First Avenue met the wrecking ball.

Richmond Hospital Aux Thrift Shop volunteers StevestonBehind the scenes, the RHA Thrift Shop is a beehive of activity. The “red coat ladies,” as they are fondly known (along with a handful of “red coat guys” who are highly valued for their muscle power), busily toil to get donations sorted, priced and out onto the floor. The turn over is huge; the busy cash desk commonly processes 500 transactions a day.

In total RHA Thrift Shop has a roster of approximately 100 volunteers. Every penny raised directly benefits Richmond Hospital to purchase much needed equipment.

Richmond Hospital presents the RHA Thrift Stores’ board of directors with a wish list to purchase major pieces of equipment for the Hospital and fund music and therapy programs at Minoru Residence and Lions Manor. Funds raised have also purchased and help maintain two small buses for each residence and support a mobile dental clinic for Minoru Residence.

Richmond Hospital Aux Thrift Shop volunteers red coats StevestonThe Richmond Hospital/Healthcare Auxiliary was established in 1961. In addition to the Steveston thrift shop volunteers, another 340 Auxiliary volunteers donate countless hours of their time to assist at the hospital’s gift shop, lottery booth, information desk, marketplace located in the hospital’s main entrance, act as hospital navigators and help at Minoru Residence and Lions Manor.

Since the Richmond Hospital/Healthcare Auxiliary’s inception in 1961 it has contributed eight million dollars to benefit the hospital. The thrift store is by far the most lucrative of the Auxiliary’s involvements. It goes without saying Richmond Hospital’s staff is deeply appreciative of the Auxiliary’s dedicated and warm-hearted volunteers.

RHA Thrift Shop coordinator Ursula van Duin and day supervisor Barbara Dirnfield both put in unpaid full time hours. If they don’t happen to know the answer to a question one of the other red coat volunteers is happy to fill in the blank. The day I visited it was a bit like working on a jigsaw puzzle as a cluster of women happily stopped their work for a moment to contribute their historical knowledge. A number of helpers have been with the RHA Thrift Shop for many years. Volunteers range in age from 16 to 90 years old and are predominantly women.

The social aspect is a very important reason why people choose to volunteer. A fringe benefit is forming lifelong friendships.

Ursula points out, “A certain type of person volunteers.” She could easily be speaking about herself. This dynamo has a long history of contributing her time. She lived in the small community of Elliot Lake in Northern Ontario until she moved to Steveston to be close to her Richmond based daughter. In Ontario she was actively involved with the local hospital auxiliary and knew she wanted to carry on with community work in Steveston. In five short years she has become the shop’s coordinator and vice president of the board.

Barbara is the youngest of a family of four siblings. She can proudly say three generations of her family have been involved with the Richmond Hospital Auxiliary. Her mother, Joan McInnes, was one of original Auxiliary volunteers. Barbara recalls in the 1960s Auxiliary volunteers frequently visited their family home. She has been assisting at the thrift shop for two years alongside her sisters Laurie and Cathie. In addition, Cathie’s daughter Megan and her grandson Ethan help out, making this a true family affair with four generations having contributed their time.

Barbara shares, “Being around this group of volunteers is an eye opener. They’ve been through so much.”

Maria De Olazaval has been donating her services as public relations and social media coordinator to raise the shop’s profile. An updated website is in the works and a social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is raising awareness of what’s going on behind the red doors.

All sorts of wonderful items can be found at RHA Thrift Shop. Children’s clothing is kept to a modest $1 per item. Here you will find gently used clothing (some designer labels) for women, men and children, shoes and household goods. You will also find beautiful used modern and antique furniture, lamps, home décor, jewellery, watches, books, toys, magazines, dishes, hardware, small electronics, sporting goods, craft supplies and many other treasures.

Every so often a surprise enters the mix. Ursula and Barbara recall a Rolex watch arriving amongst the donations. Sensing an error, they contacted a jeweller who discovered the watch had been stolen and reunited it with the owner.

Richmond Hospital Aux Thrift Shop Chatham StevestonThe dedicated Red Coat team always goes the extra mile. They take some of the designer clothing home to launder and they polish the finer jewellery donations that they know will sell for a fair price if properly showcased.

Curio sales take place every second month and attract many collectors. Mark your calendar and follow RHA Thrift Shop’s social media – the next sale takes place on Saturday February 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

If you are looking for a fulfilling opportunity to lend a hand and you look good in red (wink) the Richmond Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop is always looking for more volunteers. There is no greater reward than forming new friendships and knowing that your donation of time assists such a great cause. Thank you red coat ladies and gentlemen for the extraordinary service you offer to benefit our community.

Richmond Hospital Auxiliary Thrift Shop
3731 Chatham Street
Richmond BC V7E 2Z4
Telephone 604-271-1551
www.richmondhospitalhealthcareauxiliary.ca

Diplomat Bakery

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-1Sweet Masterpieces Aplenty.

The baked goods look so tantalizing it is hard to know where to begin when you peek inside Diplomat Bakery’s glass display case laden with cakes and treats.

Do you choose a cinnamon bun, croissant, square or a slice of cake? Maybe you have a friend along to share tastes with, or perhaps you should select a cake to take home?

Whatever you decide, you know it’s going to be a guaranteed winner as no corners are cut or expense is spared on ingredients; real cream, butter and Belgian chocolate are all used to create these European style temptations.Mark Stenson Gerald StensonDiplomat Bakery is very much a family affair. Gerald Stenson, his wife Elizabeth and their son Mark are all actively involved in running the business. Their daughter Adele is a nurse and is a keen supporter of the family enterprise. She has played a key role in customer service and now helps contribute to product research and development.

Gerald is the pastry chef and Elizabeth is the bookkeeper. She holds a degree in food service administration and has financial accounting experience. Gerald adds fondly, “She’s a very integral behind-the-scenes part of the business.”

Mark has been helping out at the bakery since he was so small that he needed a box to stand on at the cash register. Now, with a diploma in accounting and a BBA degree in marketing under his belt, he assists with operations and marketing and is playing an active role in taking the business to the next level. He is very interested in product development and is proud of the success of introducing a seven-inch variation of their traditional nine-inch cake. He says, “Customers have responded well to this addition.”

The well-loved bakery recently reopened at their beautiful new location at London Station.

Situated across the street from their former London Road site, the new space is much more visible as the storefront is set closer to the street. In a smart business move, the Stensons purchased the space. It is slightly smaller than their previous location and conjures up memories of their original Steveston village shop on Moncton Street, which was in operation from 1994 to 2007.

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-2Their goal was to create a storefront as classy as the cakes for which they are known. They credit designer Lorraine Ilich for her assistance. Along the front window they have incorporated a twenty-foot counter made of stone with seating for customers to enjoy their coffee and treats and do a little people watching. A rolling garage door on the east side of the bakery will open during the summer months and there is plenty of space for outdoor patio seating.

“We were able to design the space from scratch and dress it up.” Mark Stenson

Aware that Diplomat Bakery is the only place to purchase coffee in the London Station area, they have stepped up their coffee service with a new espresso machine and have introduced locally roasted coffee by Oughtred Roasting Works. Their staff has been trained to make coffee to satisfy connoisseurs. Speciality drinks such as London Fog and chai lattes share the menu with favourite coffee standards.

Customers stop in to shop for their baked goods, and others pass by for a coffee and a treat en route to or from a walk or bike ride along the south dyke.

Gerald has been creating sweet masterpieces for Diplomat Bakery since it first opened in 1994.

Originally from Ireland, he has a lilt of an Irish accent that has morphed from time spent working as a pastry chef for Sheraton and Hilton hotels in Africa, Australia, Malaysia and the Middle East. He also worked in Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Twenty-five years ago he moved to Canada with his wife Elizabeth and their two small children.

When Gerald arrived in Vancouver he discovered he was overqualified and had a hard time finding work. He worked in airline catering and then tried his hand at going into business wholesaling baked goods. He began by giving out samples of his delicious pastries and cakes to restaurants and he was on his way – they were hooked.

At one point, before Costco had their own in house bakery, Diplomat Bakery supplied three Costco locations as well as G.M. Place arena (they supplied the Canucks and Grizzlies teams and some special events). Gerald recalls creating a special rose dessert for Bette Midler in honour of her popular song.

After wholesaling got to be a bit much he decided to branch into retail. The business name came from a hotel Gerald and Elizabeth visited while they were working in Bahrain. Gerald explains, “We always felt Diplomat would be a nice name for a company. Also, we really enjoyed our time there and the staff were very kind.”

“I wake up in the morning and love going to work.” Gerald Stenson

diplomat-bakery-steveston-insider-3Diplomat Bakery has earned a reputation for its excellent cakes. Gerald lists the Diplomat, Red Velvet, Tiramisu and Triple Chocolate cakes as perennial favourites. Mark points out, “The tastes are true to their origin.” He remembers a customer saying, “This is what a Black Forest cake should taste like.”

They have regular customers who come for their chocolate fix. Some travel in from North Vancouver and Tsawwassen to visit their favourite bakery. Gerald recalls customers ordering cakes to take to Vancouver Island, across the border and even as far away as Hong Kong. He says, “We are very flattered people want to do that.”

Christmas is always a special time at Diplomat Bakery as seasonal goodies make their debut. Inside the display case you will find their popular three-inch mince pies, four varieties of tarts (almond, butter, coconut and pecan), stollen, shortbread (boxed makes a nice gift), gingerbread men (for kids of every size) and Yule logs.

This holiday season consider taking some of the pressure off and leave some of the baking to the experts at Diplomat Bakery.

Diplomat Bakery
6168 London Road
Richmond, BC V7E 3S3
Telephone: 604-241-9134
www.diplomatbakery.com

Pretty Things Florist & Designer Gifts

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

pretty-things-florist-steveston-insider-6 The Lovelier Things in Life. 

Janeil Mackay has always had an appreciation for pretty things. Wanting to share her passion for the lovelier things in life with her community, she recently opened a full service florist and gift store in Steveston.

Janeil’s diverse career has centred on retail and she has held some impressive positions in retail management with Helly Hansen and Nygard. Most recently she spent eight years as the Canucks Sports & Entertainment retail director.

She laughs when she mentions, “I wanted to move away from jerseys and hoodies and was inspired to open Pretty Things.”

Janeil_Mackay_Pretty_Things_Florist_StevestonPretty Things opened in 2015 at Oakridge Centre. When the shop’s short-term lease ended she chose to move the business to Steveston, where she lives with her husband and two children.

She discovered the gorgeous new retail space waiting to be leased on the corner of Bayview Street and Third Avenue (situated across from scenic Steveston Harbour) and knew it was the perfect home for Pretty Things. Bleached white flooring, large windows facing east, west and south flood the store with light, a 12 foot high ceiling that creates an airy feeling, three oversized white pendant lights (that resemble allium flowers) and a white brick wall all add to the charm.

An additional perk is the shop’s south facing patio. During the warmer months customers can sit in the sun and appreciate the waterfront backdrop while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea from the shop’s full service coffee bar.

“Retail is becoming all about the experience.” Janeil Mackay

Chai tea, lavender latte and red tea latte are some of the signature drinks on the menu. Customers enjoy this unique service, which enables them to either shop with a drink in hand, or simply sit down in the pretty atmosphere and relax with a coffee (there is also indoor seating). Janeil has noticed that a Sunday coffee crowd is developing.

A consultation room is set up at the back of shop to meet with brides and grooms to plan wedding flowers. In the short time the new location has been open (October 2016) she has already seen an increase in wedding consultations. In addition to wedding flowers, Pretty Things also offers floral installation services to an impressive list of corporate clients, realtors and developers who use the shop’s floral service to stage homes and send to clients as thank you gifts.

“It’s a beautiful space and the plants are thriving in the natural light.” Janeil Mackay

Pretty Things is known for its quality pre-made bouquets and arrangements. Customers also have the option of creating a custom bouquet by selecting flowers directly from the large cooler at the back of the shop.

Plants ranging from small succulents (perfect for offices or kitchen counters and bathrooms) to mid-sized houseplants and gorgeous orchids all have a home at Pretty Things. Janeil says indoor plants are seeing a surge in popularity not only for their aesthetics but also because they act as natural air purifiers.

Would you or someone you know love to receive fresh flowers on a regular basis? Pretty Things’ Flower Club may be just what you are looking for. Every week you can arrange for a bouquet of seasonal flowers to be delivered – you can also create your own schedule and budget. Send flowers to a sick friend or to a relative in a care home. Husbands and boyfriends, this is a wonderful way to woo your partner with floral displays of love.

Janeil says, “Customers love it. We help make their life simpler. We take care of all the details and they don’t have to think about it.”

If you are looking to hone your flower arranging skills, Pretty Things offers workshops throughout the year. Next up is a holiday wreath-making workshop on December 5. With the guidance of a florist participants will learn how to design a holiday floral wreath or door swag, which you will get to take home. To add to the merriment, hot toddies will be served.
Look no further than Pretty Things this holiday season for table arrangements, bouquets and Christmas centerpieces. Some of the seasonal flowers making an appearance include winter peonies, garden roses, holly, and seasonal elements such as frosted tips, which make an arrangement cry out “Happy Holidays!”

Janeil believes flowers and gifts are a natural pairing. Year round gifts and décor can be found at Pretty Things, however, with Christmas on the horizon, ideas for presents and stocking stuffers are at the top of everyone’s list.

Some of the designer brands carried include Kate Spade frames, notebooks, candles, Panier de Sens soaps, hand cream, body lotion and body wash, Linnea Lights candles and diffusers and Ted Baker travel bags and notebooks.

Other great gift items include The Cottage Greenhouse body soap, creams and sprays (this line made Oprah’s favourite things list for 2016), and for the bride to be, Wedgewood bridal books and notepads. Don’t forget yourself on the shopping list – buy a travel mug and Pretty Things will fill it with a free coffee.

pretty-things-florist-steveston-insider-3As a new member of Steveston’s merchant community Janeil recently became a Steveston Merchants Association board member. She has enjoyed assisting with Christmas in Steveston Village and has taken an active role in seeking sponsors. She believes in investing in Steveston and says, “If other merchants are successful, my business will also be successful. It’s important merchants work together.”

After operating a shop in the mall and abiding by strict hours of operation, Janeil is happy to have the freedom to pick her own hours (the store is open 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. excluding Mondays when it is closed). She says her customers are supportive and lovely and she is thrilled to be operating a business in a small community where people introduce themselves and become loyal clients.

This holiday season make a point of adding Pretty Things to your list of local businesses to visit and discover for yourself how this pretty shop earned its name.

Pretty Things Florist & Designer Gifts
110-3531 Bayview Street
Richmond, BC V7E 5W3
Telephone: 604-285-9120
www.prettythingsvancouver.ca

Juvelisto

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Treasure Hidden Inside a Pod

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 1One of the questions people often ask business owner Sasha Shkolnik is where she came up with the name Juvelisto for her jewellery boutique. She explains the word stems from a universal language created in 1887 called Esperanto, and in this language the word for jeweller is juvelisto.

Sasha trained as an artist in her native Ukraine where she worked in the disciplines of oil paints and ceramics and she designed theatre props. During this time she also discovered jewellery making and began to create with clay and porcelain; this led to her dream of pursuing metal arts.

In 1995 she and her husband Leon Shkolnik and their young son decided to leave their homeland for a better life. Sasha mentions, “There was no economy for art during the recession in Ukraine and we saw no future for our family.”

Juvelisto Steveston Insider Sasha ShkolnikWhile they had no previous connection to Canada they felt fortunate to have the opportunity to immigrate here. They arrived in the country with nothing, and like many immigrants worked their way from the ground up. Sasha enrolled in the respected Jewellery Art and Design program at Vancouver Community College while Leon worked at assorted jobs to support them. When Sasha completed her diploma it was Leon’s turn to attend school to train in computer studies.

Upon graduating Sasha approached Karl Stittgen in South Granville with examples of her work and she was instantly hired. Her career as a goldsmith continued to blossom during the 12 years she spent at Costen Catbalue in Kitsilano and finally at Bill Chow Jewellers in Kerrisdale until she decided it was time to consider opening her own business.

“I needed to find my own path. There was a lot to lose but also a lot to gain by going out on my own.” Sasha Shkolnik

Sasha and her family (their daughter was born here) have lived in Richmond since moving to Canada. On a weekend walk in Steveston in 2011 they spotted a for lease sign on a vacant Moncton Street storefront. Sasha dialed the number immediately and promptly signed an agreement.

Her concept was to create a European style boutique where customers could observe the creative process and communicate with the jeweller. Sasha’s bench was literally centre stage, located in the middle of the floor plan until the shop was renovated last year.

What will you find at Juvelisto? In addition to Sasha’s exquisite work she represents artists from Canada, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, Turkey and the United States.

Sasha’s creations are breathtaking. She draws inspiration from organic textures, shapes and nature. Her gorgeous nuts and pods collection is inspired by objects found in nature, such as pea pods and peanuts, which are cast in silver or bronze and set with different beads, pearls and gemstones. She describes this collection as “treasure hidden inside a pod.”

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 3The primary focus of her business is custom work. This gifted artist has the talent to recycle and redesign sentimental pieces of jewellery into masterpieces. She loves hearing the stories that frequently accompany custom orders. She says with a smile, “The stories I hear and the people I meet are so diverse.”

She presents clients with beautifully rendered sketches (which are also works of art) depicting numerous ways new life can be breathed into a treasured possession. Metals can be recycled or reclaimed and gemstones can be used in new designs. Sasha’s creative mind conceives so many original possibilities it must be hard for clients to narrow them down to the final choice. Many of the orders involve a significant life event such as a birthday, wedding or anniversary. Sometimes clients have an idea of what they would like and other times Sasha is given free rein.

“I love my job. I am in the best profession in the world because I make people happy.” Sasha Shkolnik

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 7Last year Leon left his career as an information technology manager to join the business. Sasha is appreciative of all his hard work and notes he is responsible for all of Juvelisto’s impressive professional photography. This is the first time they have worked together and they are enjoying the partnership.

Leon is also fully responsible for Juvelisto’s stunning renovation that took place in April 2015; he transformed the vacant retail space next door (formerly an ice cream shop) into Juvelisto’s School of Metal Arts. The two spaces are joined together with a spectacular sliding barn door constructed of steel and wrought iron created by local artist Miran Elbakian. Sasha mentions that much of the functional decor found at Juvelisto, including the door, is for sale.

Customers had always expressed an interest in jewellery making lessons; Sasha kept a list of names and over time saw there was a demand.

One year ago the school opened. This is a very unique concept, incorporating a school with a jewellery shop. The workspace is visible from the front windows. Sasha laughs when she mentions, “We have to clean the nose marks from curious passers by daily.”

Eight students can be accommodated in the attractively renovated space, seated around a striking custom-made bench constructed from reclaimed wood. Each workspace is equipped with its own tools. Classes and workshops are offered year round and benches are also rented to artists when classes are not in session. Leanne Guthrie is one of the instructors along with invited guest teachers including Andrea Roberts from Circle Craft and enamel artist Peggy Logan.

Depending on the project, participants can leave with their own creation the same day. Other classes take place weekly over a five to eight week period. All classes are project based and are designed to stimulate the imagination. It is entirely possible to create a piece from scratch without previous experience. Ideas for new classes are constantly germinating and Sasha is currently excited about the idea of offering a class for couples to design their own wedding bands.

Juvelisto Steveston Insider 3500 MonctonJuvelisto has earned a devoted following of repeat customers. They are attracted to Sasha’s magnificent work and her genuine warmth and loving attention to each design she is entrusted with.

Sasha concludes with a smile, “I love Steveston. There is a real sense of community with people supporting and helping each other. From day one people supported me and entrusted me by leaving their precious pieces with me.”

Juvelisto
120-3500 Moncton Street
Richmond BC V7E 3A2
Telephone: 604-241-7376
www.juvelisto.com

Hunni’s

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

The Arrival of a New Clothing Store Has Steveston Buzzing

Hunni's Steveston Insider interiorEarlier this summer social media was abuzz when Hunni’s made the announcement a new location was set to open in Steveston village. Fans of the trendy women’s clothing boutique, and there are many of them, with an impressive 41,000 on Facebook alone, were chatting about when this exciting development was going to take place.

Judging by the reaction, the second Hunni’s is destined to become as popular as the original Langley shop, founded in 2004 by entrepreneur twin sisters Christi Hunniford and Danielle (Hunniford) Stratuliak. Steveston residents and husband and wife duo, Chris and Jenelle Marshall, are the owners of the first Hunni’s franchise.

Hunni's Steveston Insider Jenelle MarshallOriginally from Kelowna, the Marshalls relocated to Vancouver in 2009 when Chris’ place of employment, Crown Packaging, shut down. The company offered him an attractive transfer to join their Richmond manufacturing plant. Jenelle was a social worker and Vancouver offered her many job opportunities. At the time the couple had no children and jumped at the opportunity.

“Life takes you where you’re supposed to go.” Chris Marshall

Chris says, “We spent four years living in a downtown Vancouver condo and enjoyed music, wine and good food. In 2012 we had our daughter Presley, and in 2013 we found our home in Steveston.” Jenelle chimes in, “We fell in love with Steveston right away. When we were in Kelowna people told us to check out the village. We got an immediate sense of community.”

How did the opportunity to own and operate Steveston’s Hunni’s come about? Chris worked with Curtis Stratuliak (husband of Danielle (Hunniford) Stratuliak) at Richmond’s Crown Packaging. They had discussed the possibility of future business opportunities; Curtis approached the Marshalls in March 2015, hoping they would be interested in opening a Hunni’s. Jenelle was pregnant at the time with their son Rex (who is now one-year-old) and they delayed the invitation for a year.

Chris explains, “Our intent was never to franchise per se, but to open a shop we could call our own, and working with Hunni’s allowed us to do so with some heavy duty support on the back-end. It’s a unique opportunity and we are very excited.”

“We wanted to live, work and play in the village.” Jenelle Marshall

Hunni's Steveston Insider interior3They were aware there was a fashion shortfall for their particular demographic in south Richmond. Combining Chris’ talent for marketing and accounting with Jenelle’s passion for clothing (she confesses that her sister, her mother and herself have always been professional shoppers) and her ability to work in a busy, public environment was a natural fit.

Later this summer Jenelle will work in the shop full-time alongside Hunni’s staff who all happen to be Stevestonites. Each have their areas of expertise and Jenelle and Chris have been very impressed by their assorted talents. Chris is continuing his career with Crown Packaging, in addition to providing behind the scenes support for their new business.

Jenelle says, “We are confident that Hunni’s will be a positive influence on the neighbourhood where we plan to raise our children. We see this as an opportunity to further immerse ourselves in our community.”

Big advocates of shopping locally, they hope to attract customers not only to Hunni’s but also to explore other businesses in the village.

Hunni's Steveston Insider interior2The store opened on June 15 and has received glowing feedback. People are very happy Hunni’s has arrived. They are enjoying more clothing options in the village and appreciate the shop’s aesthetics. The Marshalls had expected primarily 20 to 45 year old clients but have been pleasantly surprised to discover a diverse age range of customers happily shopping at the store.

Hunni’s is known for carrying a large number of unique and affordable labels not found at the mall. Up to seventy per cent of the lines are created by boutique designers from Langley, Squamish, Vancouver and Los Angeles. Other popular brands such as Billabong, Element and Hurley are also carried. Jenelle points out, “West Coast inspired fashion reflects what’s going on here. It is very seasonal and functional wear.”

This summer flirty festival fashion has been all the rage. What can you expect to find at Hunni’s for fall? Think cozy and retro, as 1970s inspired flare jeans will be making a comeback paired with warm layers of knit sweaters, plaid flannel shirts and topped with a vest or leather jacket. Hunni’s also sells a selection of footwear. Jenelle points out, “Ankle booties are likely here to stay and have already proven to be a hit in the village.”

Chris says, “We’re both excited about the 70s throwback that seems to be popular now. That tends to be the generation we identify with in the arts and music.”

September is synonymous with back to school and students need head no further than Hunni’s to find backpacks. Vancouver based company Herschel Supply Co. makes backpacks with a heritage vibe that have proven to be a hit with the high school crowd. Herschel backpacks come in many styles and fabrics; some are reminiscent of vintage Boy Scout bags made of canvas with leather straps. Ipad cases will also be available.

Hunni's Steveston Insider 3900 MonctonIn their free time the couple can be found out with their children and their pug named Jude (as in “Hey Jude”). They point out their daughter is a social butterfly and knows many of the merchants at their favourite Steveston shops. They enjoy the local music scene and take advantage of all that is offered.

Smitten with Steveston, they share one car and feel there is very little need to leave the area. Jenelle says, “We can often be found close to home at the playground or library.” For the young couple it all comes down to community involvement and they feel very fortunate to be living, working and playing in a village they love very much.

Hunni’s
105-3900 Moncton St
Richmond BC V7E 3A6
Telephone 604-272-0214
www.shophunnis.com

Pizza Factory

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Warm Smiles and Great Tasting Pizza

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_2_Steveston_Palla_MediaIf you haven’t stopped by Pizza Factory recently it may be time to stroll in and meet the new owners who purchased the business three months ago. Kulvir Aujla and her husband Sukhi are quickly earning a reputation not only for their great tasting pizza but also for their warm and friendly service.

The business is truly a family affair. Kulvir is the primary owner and Sukhi assists her in the kitchen along with marketing the business and making deliveries. Their niece Alyssa McGahey is also actively involved on the front end. In addition, Sukhi’s father and the couple’s son and daughter come in to assist and volunteer their time.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_sukhi_Steveston_Palla_MediaAnother behind the scenes promoter is Sukhi’s mother. Kulvir says, “She is an ambassador and promotes Pizza Factory to seniors. Our kids have also been actively promoting the business to their friends and sports teams.”

Sometimes when an opportunity crosses your path you have to jump at it. Kulvir was working in management at Walmart when she heard through the grapevine that Pizza Factory in Steveston was for sale. With an extensive background in the restaurant industry she felt the time was ripe to make the leap and run her own business.

They gave the restaurant a fresh makeover with olive green paint, new seating, a new countertop and wall signage to showcase the full menu.

A fun new seaside logo features a friendly orca named “Pep” (short for pepperoni). In the future Pep will become a costumed mascot. They are grateful to Yeti Works in Steveston village for designing their fun logo and website. Sukhi and Kulvir point out that they are eager to support local businesses.

What are the couple finding most rewarding in the early days of running the business?

They say working together for the first time is a pleasure. They are also feeling empowered being self-employed which allows them the freedom to make decisions for their business. They thoroughly enjoy getting to know their customers as they drop in and become regulars. Sukhi says, “Our intention is it run it like the TV show Cheers.”

“We’re having a good time. That’s what we want to do.” Sukhi Aujla

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_samosa_Steveston_Palla_MediaThe Aujlas live in Richmond’s Hamilton neighbourhood, but have always had an affinity for Steveston. They believe the two areas share a similar spirit. They are excited to be a part of Steveston’s business community and are demonstrating their philanthropic nature by supporting local events.

Recently they donated 15 pizzas to a group of McMath Secondary School students who participated in Convenant House’s Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth. Pizza Factory has also become the official pizza supplier for the Islanders 04 softball team. Kulvir says, “We are actively looking to support local sports teams in Richmond.”

Over the Easter weekend Pizza Factory staged a three day customer appreciation blitz. A team of 30 volunteers (aka friends and family) helped to conduct this marketing campaign by wearing matching “Ask me how to get a free slice” t-shirts as they handed out coupons throughout Steveston. People lined up around the block to take advantage of this tempting offer and over the course of three days 1,300 slices were served. In the process they discovered ninety per cent of the people who dropped by the business didn’t know they existed.

To introduce more clients to their business they suggest swinging by on July 1 to see what fun things they will be doing to celebrate Canada Day.

Pizza_Factory_Richmond_1_Steveston_Palla_MediaNew to Pizza Factory are loyalty cards and pizza by the slice. High school students in particular appreciate being able to drop by at lunchtime with the new earlier business hours (open at 11 a.m.). For Kulvir and Sukhi it is all about forging a symbiotic relationship with their customers. Their intention is to always keep the question “what can we do for you?” in the foreground of conducting business. The direct result of a customer’s request, Pizza Factory now offers 15% off take out pizzas.

“Our customers appreciate us as much as we appreciate them.”  Kulvir Aujla

While Pizza Factory is a franchise each location is given freedom to customize their business to best fit the community. They are not restricted to abide by a set menu and can introduce special items such as chicken and veggie samosas, Punjabi-style pizza and butter chicken may soon be introduced. Some of the top sellers include Hawaiian, house special, taco, bacon burger, barbecue chicken, spinach and of course, kid pleasing favourites, cheese and pepperoni pizzas. Gluten-free is available for medium size pizzas and whole-wheat crust is available upon request. All of the dough is made fresh each morning.

“If we’re blessed by the pizza gods we make dough more than once a day.” Sukhi Aujla

Every business has good stories and one unfolded during our interview. A Power Rangers film production member came in with a request for 42 pizzas for the crew, which were needed the following day. He had heard the buzz that Pizza Factory was the place to go for exceptionally friendly service.

It couldn’t happen to nicer people.

Pizza Factory
120-12020 First Avenue
Richmond BC V7E 3L9
Telephone: 604-233-7777
www.pizzafactoryrichmond.ca

Steveston: Small Business Community Thinks Big

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Steveston Village SceneYou may have heard people talking about the SMA and BIA, but what are they and what is the difference between them?

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) was formed in 2010 by a group of business owners whose goal was to promote local businesses and drive more customers to their services, shops and restaurants through seasonal events, small scale advertising, a website and social media. With an elective paid membership the SMA does not encompass the entire business district, resulting in a smaller funding pool although events and promotions benefit the entire village.

An elected volunteer board is responsible for organizing popular events such as Christmas in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out, the Scarecrow Crawl and Trick or Treat in Steveston Village and has been a voice for many important area concerns.

While the work the SMA accomplishes is outstanding, the merchants’ association model is antiquated.

BIA stands for Business Improvement Areas and what this model offers is far reaching for both merchants and the entire community. Examples of what can be achieved for Steveston include a year round focus for promotional programs and activities, collective advertising and special events designed to drive more visitors to the area. Issues such as pedestrian scale lighting and parking improvements are also a focus of many BIAs.

Steveston’s business community is losing ground as business districts in virtually every surrounding region of Metro Vancouver and throughout B.C. have embraced BIAs. In comparison, Steveston is at a disadvantage without a BIA.

Business districts can dream big with input from a full membership’s participation at the board and committee level.

A simple way to explain a BIA is to imagine a shopping mall management system. All malls have systems in place to drive customers to the mall to benefit business tenants. Steveston without a BIA is like an outdoor mall with no big picture promotional direction. It just isn’t competitive nor does it come close to realized improved potential.

BIAs are able to plan further into the future to successfully promote areas. A BIA is approved by a vote and all businesses within a BIA’s boundaries automatically become members, creating a larger collective voice working for the betterment of businesses and the community.

A BIA is uniquely created for an area, no two are identical, and therefore Steveston could capitalize on its distinct locale where farmland meets the ocean and a historic fishing village.

Jim_vandertas_BlueCanoe_Steveston Village Palla MediaJim van der Tas, owner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant (and president of the SMA) believes the sky’s the limit. He envisions everything from an Oktoberfest celebration spread over a number of days to celebrating a new Steveston heritage festival and transforming the entire village into a Christmas wonderland for the month of December to draw people to town.

Getting a BIA off the ground takes a lot of work and commitment from volunteers who believe that focusing on a bigger picture can produce some very effective results.

A new committee called the Steveston Business Development Association (SBDA) has formed under the SMA’s umbrella to partner cooperatively with other local non-profits that see the value a BIA brings to an entire community.

A municipality can’t force a BIA into a business community and generally shouldn’t stop a BIA start up group from asking them to initiate the voting procedure if the group has done positive outreach. After well over a decade of discussion Steveston merchants, land owners and key stakeholders have not gone before City council to ask for the BIA voting procedure but expect to this calendar year.

Peter Tong Pharmasave Steveston Village Palla MediaPeter Tong, owner of Steveston Pharmasave, comments,“ I think a BIA is very important for Steveston.”

“Looking at this unique location and the sensitivity businesses have in trying to protect the history, integrity and feel of the community; there are a lot of political and business challenges that are hard for each business to face alone,” Tong says.

He adds, “Promoting the village, rather than one single business, attracts more people and creates an atmosphere within the village that can only benefit Steveston. I think there are certainly frustrations amongst some business owners who have seen what other BIAs have done and strongly believe one is needed to start promoting the village. The sooner we get this done the better.

Carol_LittleMexico_Steveston Village Palla MediaCarol Janeczko, owner of Little Mexico Cantina, believes, “The opportunity to revitalize Steveston through the formation of a BIA is an exciting prospect. Looking at other similar business districts such as Fort Langley and Cloverdale and seeing what they have accomplished for their communities through elaborate events, marketing and beautification projects is inspiring. It would be amazing to see Steveston advance to that level.”

Jens Hertha DOriginal_Sausage_Steveston Village Palla MediaJens Hertha, owner of D’Original Sausage Haus, agrees. “I am excited about the possibility of having a BIA in Steveston. It would make Steveston stronger. For a business like mine the cost would be less than $200 per year. I strongly believe that a BIA is an investment and everybody benefits from a strong, vibrant business district.”Hertha believes, “This BIA initiative is a significant opportunity and every business and commercial property should plan to learn about it firsthand. This is too important an opportunity to be making a decision about a BIA based on nonfactual information or hearsay from third parties. Make an appointment with the organizers to talk about it.”

To learn more email:
weareopenforbusiness@gmail.com

Robel Income Tax Service

Monday, April 11th, 2016

A Worry-Free Approach to a Taxing Task

Robel Income Tax Steveston InsiderElly Fenton is the warm and amiable owner of Robel Income Tax Service. We sat down to talk on the first day the Robel office resumed regular hours of operation to begin processing 2015 personal tax forms. While many people would appear under pressure with volumes of work looming, she was relaxed and ready to face the work with gusto.

She began her career as a nurse in Australia and specialized in infant care. When she moved to Vancouver in 1974 she shifted to working at daycare centres and also focussed her attention on raising her two daughters.

Her soft Australian accent has been diluted by her years spent in Canada but Fenton’s Aussie humour shines through.

When her husband passed away she took an H&R Block taxation preparation course. Subsequently, she worked with Richmond Savings Credit Union (known today as Coast Capital Savings).

Fenton became a tax practitioner in 1993 and started Robel Income Tax Service. In February 2013 she moved her home-based business to its present Chatham Street storefront. She says this was a very wise decision as her business has benefited greatly from being in the heart of Steveston village.

From mid-February through to early May the small office is kept hopping. Fenton and her four staff members (two preparers, one checker and receptionist) can be found working long days as they process an impressive number of returns that require filing by the April 30 deadline. Last year Robel completed 1,752 income tax returns with similar numbers expected this year.

Fenton gives accolades to her hard working staff. She says, “It’s a team effort to get through it all from beginning to end.”

The secret to a successful business is a loyal and established client base. She is proud to report that Robel serves over 1,500 clients and 148 of those individuals have been with her since she began the business. While many of her clients are locals, she also serves a number of long standing customers from Surrey, Harrison, Courtenay and Comox via email, fax and mail.

While the whirlwind of Robel’s tax preparation activity is seasonal, Fenton works year round as some people file their taxes late and there are reassessments to be managed. The office is open by appointment during these months.

If you are having your taxes prepared by the pros at Robel there are a few things to be aware of. The fee structure for basic returns is based on the number of slips and benefits that require filing. Electronic filing is included in the price and promises you a faster refund. Robel is also able to set up direct deposit for clients, now mandatory with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Even if you have little or no income, you should file your income tax and benefit return, as you may be eligible for credits and benefits. Filing a return is the key to getting your BC and GST tax credits and the Canada child tax benefit, among others.

Tip: Wait until you have received all of your slips (T3, T4, investments etc.) before dropping documents off at Robel’s office.

When the CRA introduced online filing Fenton thought she would lose business but that did not transpire. She points out some people get frustrated or simply prefer not to do the job and leave it to a tax practitioner. In addition, if you are going it alone you need to purchase your own tax software and some clients prefer to save themselves this expense.

Robel Income Tax Steveston Insider extFenton finds taxation time very exciting, as she is always happy to see familiar faces and catch up with people. She is extremely fond of Steveston and enjoys shopping locally and getting to know other business owners.

In addition to her work, she volunteers once a week at SOS Children’s Village thrift shop on Moncton Street. Assisting this charity is close to her heart as Fenton was a foster parent for eight years. She also makes patchwork quilts for the society to sell.

She is an avid traveller and enjoys setting off for new destinations. This year she is looking forward to exploring China.

Fenton has realized her dream and celebrates her extremely satisfying career. At the end of the day she says, “It’s all about doing a good job for our clients.”

Robel Income Tax Service
105-3631 Chatham St
Richmond BC V7E 3A5
Telephone 604-241-7595
www.robeltax.com