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qathet art supply business shuffles to Marine Avenue

Bowling district revitalization happening with shops opening and patio upgrades

Operating a small independent business continues to be a challenge for many, due to rising costs, housing needs, retaining staff and people spending less. However, many businesses in the qathet region continue to thrive and some are moving to bigger spaces.

Owners of qathet Art and Wares (qAW), Karen Skadsheim and Evelyn Russell, recently relocated their art supply store from Alberni Street to a bigger space on Marine Avenue.

The 4400 block of Marine is going through a revitalization. Beside qAW, a vintage clothing store is in the process of opening, and Strikers Bar and Grill, bought by Persephone Brewing Company last year, is creating a new outdoor seating space.

"Our lease was up for renewal and we knew we wanted a bigger space," said Skadsheim. "We talked to someone about the Kingfisher bookstore space, but it just needed too much work."

Timing was in Skadsheim and Russell's favour, as the space next to the now closed Kingfisher store became unoccupied, so they were able to snatch it up. The intention of the move was to have more space, and not only do they have a storefront, they now have a back area they plan to turn into a workshop.

"Everything was here; we basically put on a fresh coat of white paint and that was pretty much it," said Skadsheim. "We now have a 750-square-foot workshop in the back, where we have to do some plumbing and stuff like that.”

Russell said they are expecting a different kind of foot traffic, maybe more tourists or people just off the ferry.

"We [in our previous space] couldn't really do multiday workshops where stuff has to hang out and dry," said Skadsheim. "So now we have a designated space, and it's got a separate entrance."

Skadsheim and Russell said they want to try attracting artists from Comox to do day trips to buy art supplies, explore the area and still make it back home on the 5 pm ferry.

"They would spend less in gas than they would driving to Nanaimo," added Skadsheim.

qAW is a unique business that markets to professional and novice artists and not every town or city has access to the kinds of supplies it offers, according to the owners.

"We do miss being close to Artique and we have a different view here," said Russell. "It's a new chapter for us."

Another big surprise for those who frequent businesses on Marine Avenue was the recent announcement by owners of 32 Lakes Cafe and Bakery that it is moving from 4707 Marine Avenue into where Ecossentials is currently located (6812 Alberni Street). Ecossentials is shuffling over to the old qAWs space.

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