Business Beat is a column that was started by former Times Review editor Aaron Orlando. I’ve decided to take it over, as I like the idea of having a column to highlight good business news. This is where you’ll read about new owners, expanding businesses and other news about existing businesses in Revelstoke. If you have news for me, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-837-4667.
Since taking over Chantilly Kitchen, Bed and Bath at the start of the year, new owner Nicole Cherlet has been slowly putting her mark on the Mackenzie Avenue Store. There’s been changes to the layout, but the biggest one came last week when – after closing for three days – she re-opened the store with a new name — Big Mountain Kitchen & Linen.
Cherlet worked at the store for three years under former owner Deannie Ottenbreit. Last year she began managing the store and took over purchasing. Then, with the backing of Community Futures, she was able to purchase the business outright.
“It was always part of the plan that if everything went well it might be something I’d be interested in taking over,” said Cherlet. “Last year I was managing and took over purchasing, so I already put my stamp on the business.”
What is her stamp? Nicole’s husband Glen is a chef and they are both big foodies. They like to cook from scratch, so you’ll find the tools needed to do that. As a result, Big Mountain has a greater focus on cookware and prepware, while the dinnerware and glassware has been moved to the back of the store.
“We both really like food. We like to play with the toys and have the right tools,” said Cherlet. “The focus is more now on the cookware, on the prep gadgets, the cast iron — things like that.”
Their own kitchen has been slowly upgraded from Thrift Store finds to more expensive items that work better and last longer.
“It was a nice thing as I started working here to replace things in the house and having them still be working now,” she said. “It’s nice to be upgrading instead of constantly replacing things.”
Big Mountain also carries a bigger selection of bedroom and bathroom products than before; the aim being people will find what they want there and not have to order online or go out of town. There’s five different lines of sheets that come in different sizes and a variety of colours.
“I’ve got five different lines of sheets. I’ve got all sizes, a good variety of colours,” said Cherlet. “Same thing with bathroom. I’ve updated all the accessories. I’ve got three different lines of towels, a nice selection of bathmats, huge selection of shower curtains — the things that seem to be important to people.”
Cherlet makes sure to buy products from ethical manufacturers, saying she makes sure what she sells doesn’t come from places that exploits workers.
She plans to start an online store, with a wedding registry, and she wants to work with other businesses in town so they cross-promote each other rather than compete.
“Let’s all work together and bring Revelstoke what everyone needs,” she said. “Keep everyone shopping here instead of having to go elsewhere.”
Skookum ownership goes local
PHOTO: Isaac Becker (left) and Mike Gravelle are now ownership partners with Skookum. Missing is their third partner, Tyler Bradbury, who was on vacation.
There’s new owners at Skookum Cycle & Ski. Two Salmon Arm partners in the shop have been bought out by two store employees, giving the Revelstoke store entirely local ownership.
“I think having three owners all in town will really make a difference,” said Isaac Becker, Skookum’s manager for the past two years and new part-owner. “We’re going to be here full-time. We’re able to do stuff in the community and run the shop.”
Skookum opened in Revelstoke in 2007 when Salmon Arm store owners bought up High Country Cycle. Two years ago, Mike Gravelle, who had moved here from Whistler, bought a share in the store alongside the two Salmon Arm owners.
Now, Becker and Tyler Bradbury have bought out the Salmon Arm group, giving Skookum an entirely local ownership.
Becker’s past includes working retail in Victoria and at Mount Washington. He spent six years as a landscaper before moving to Revelstoke and getting back into retail. Bradbury (who was on vacation last week) spent 10 years as a sales rep for a major ski company before joining Skookum.
“He’s coming from the other side of the shop, which is a very important role because he knows how to wheel and deal and get what we need so we can grow,” said Gravelle.
Gravelle said having three owners who live here will give the store a bigger presence in the community.
“It’s important to get out there and communicate and show your face,” he said. “Now that I have two partners that can hold down the store while I go outside, that makes a big difference.
“It’s a small town, just going for coffee you can make some sales.”
They don’t have any major plans for the store – the name is staying the same – but they are making small changes, like adding a change room. A big focus will be on improving tech support, said Gravelle.
“We’re going to work hard on our tech support because Revelstokians are pretty hard on their gear,” he said. “We need to be able to fix it on site. No more sending it away to Toronto of Vancouver to get fixed.”
They will be sharing the duties of running the store, with each one focusing on specific areas. Becker does a lot of the graphic design and web work. Bradbury will focus more on the purchasing and financial side. Gravelle will be getting out in the community more.
“We’re all doing the customer thing — that’s what we’re focused on,” said Becker. “The front line staff is going to be very key for sure.”
StokeFM moves downtown
PHOTO: Scott Duke in the new StokeFM studio on Second Street East.
StokeFM has moved off the mountain into downtown Revelstoke, with a new studio on Second Street East that manager Scott Duke hopes will give the station more visibility.
“It’s going to be a better location for people to come to,” he said. “We’ve had more visitors here in 12 days than the last three or four months. That’s good because you want people to come in and talk on the radio, talk about their events.”
The studio was started in the basement of Duke’s home on CPR Hill. It is now located upstairs at 111 Second St. East, next door to Benoit’s Wine Bar (which closed down at the end of last month). It shares an office with Revelstoke Property Services, the property management company Duke owns with his girlfriend Eve Northmore.
The move came because they needed more office space for the property management company. “StokeFM tagged along,” said Duke.
StokeFM has grown steadily since it was launched in late 2011. Duke said the station has 140 partner businesses and its advertising has been almost completely sold out for the past eight months.
Short term plans involve branding the new space.
“Beyond that we’re focusing on a digital push. For the next five, six months that’s our focus, to expand the brand out of town,” said Duke. “We’re never going to expand that far with our terrestrial reach because we can only broadcast to Revelstoke, but online we can go much further.”
He hopes to get online listenership up to 100 people (it was at 34 when I dropped by the studio), but the ultimate goal is 1,000.
“If we get people listening online and develop an online community, we can draw people to our town using the radio station,” he said. “It can be another avenue of drawing people to Revelstoke.”