Victoria’s local businesses have more to offer than just products: their people. Meet your new neighbors!
When it comes to shopping local, some think that it’s the new hipster trend or they don’t offer products cheaply or the products aren’t considered trustworthy. I’m here to introduce you to another perspective.
Steph Shannon moved to Victoria 8 years ago and started a jewelry store named Little Gold. It was meant to be a “laid-back, less fussy jewelry store that bucked the traditional” and presented pieces, from independent and international designers, that had something more to offer than just being an embellishment. Steph prefers to treat jewelry like a “personal talisman.” For example, years ago I stole took my mother’s university ring out of a small silk pouch and ever since I’ve worn that ring in every test and examination as a token of luck. The brilliant thing about wearing inanimate objects is that you get to imprint your own meaning onto them, or let them bring out something in you. When you find something, forget the media-blasted trends and labels, and realize that this piece “has been picked with care and thought” so that you can wear “something with meaning and a story behind it.”
When she was younger, Steph started making beaded jewelry and as she got older, she got into exploring metals and gemstones. Her mom teaches taught her metalsmithing techniques, which “felt like alchemy” when she first started. She’s come into a trove of raw Ethiopian opal stones that she hopes to set into rings and wants her customers to “feel as connected to their pieces” as though she had picked them out specifically for them. And when it comes to accessorizing, forget the rules. She says, “If you’re feeling it, you can’t go wrong.”
Chelsey Gordon runs the vintage store Lovely Things Vintage, which stocks authentic vintage and exclusively carries a Montreal brand called Stay Home Club. She’s got fanny packs and Lizard Breath patches a-plenty! The thing about Chelsey is that she tries not to be a “forceful seller.” When I first discovered the underground store, it seemed like an open secret because in passing you’ll only notice it by chance. (And there’s something so romantic about that.) I was awestruck by the selection and felt completely at ease because there Chelsey was, chilling on a couch watching Groundhog Day. Talking came naturally. And if you want to talk to her about Buffy or cats or whatever else you find in common for an hour, she’s totally down for that.
Lovely Things Vintage was meant to be a place “where people liked to come into and come back to.” One-of-a-kind pieces may come from the past or the local present. I must admit wearing vintage was hardly my taste, having been raised very cleanly. But you get into it when you realize that something old means it comes with a history, which is fun to guess at. Plus, washing machines exist. Chelsey wears more stuff from the 70s since polyester is the “easiest out of all vintage to clean” without having to go through the chore of hand washing. But she also appreciates beautiful, detailed pieces from the 50s that are “just phenomenal” when the style and cut fits someone’s body perfectly.
Carey Salvador runs and operates Pigeonhole Home Store, a local furniture and home goods store. With her keen eye, love for design and background in interior design, she manages to “bring new and unique home goods, furniture and lighting into Victoria.” She feels strongly about “creating a beautiful space” that allows you to express yourself, whether it’s at home or at the office.
Arrow + Sage ceramics, Britt Buntain’s locally-made tapestries, candles from Sydney Hale Co., and Turkish linens and blankets are just some of her current well-crafted favourites in store. “Almost everything in Pigeonhole is one of a kind.” And that’s the result of how everything is handpicked. Carey is “always keeping the shop fresh and sourcing beautiful home goods.” Through travels across North America, visits to even the smallest towns, and people met along the way, Pigeonhole Home Store has become a place to fly into without wanting to fly out.
And that’s not all. There’s Chorizo & Co., a Spanish delicatessen, owned and operated by Tomás Dosil, that has the best tortillas (seriously, get there early!); Mavens, a smashing vintage shop run by Ashley Tait; KinderSpiel, a toy store started by Sandra Baxter that mostly stocks items from Germany; and the list goes on.
Some of these businesses are run by one person; others are run by some. But none are run by none. When you visit these places, you meet the people behind them and may even develop a relationship with them. These shops each come with a unique atmosphere, a vibe that you can sink into – a personality. And once you get to know them, you’ll come to appreciate the work that goes into keeping local businesses alive and realize why your support is needed.