Om is where the heart is: Melissa MJ Armstrong is opening Intuit Studio, a boutique yoga, dance, and fitness studio in the Nelson Trading Company on June 1. Intuit will offer over 30 yoga classes, and a dozen dance classes, seven days a week. Photo: Darren Davidson

Om is where the heart is: Melissa MJ Armstrong is opening Intuit Studio, a boutique yoga, dance, and fitness studio in the Nelson Trading Company on June 1. Intuit will offer over 30 yoga classes, and a dozen dance classes, seven days a week. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: Cover team bolstered for big days ahead, book business burgeons, tech study tells a tale

All the latest in local business from columnist Darren Davidson

by Darren Davidson

The Buzz starts out this month with a great success story from the gateway to Railtown.

Cover Architectural Collaborative Inc. have announced that team members Narelle Sookorukoff, Joanie Madore and Anne-Frederique Paradis are moving into partnership positions with the firm.

For the trio, the career move marks the achievement of respective lifetime goals, according to Paradis.

“Working as a professional in this beautiful little town is something I never thought I could do when I graduated from architecture school,” says Madore, who grew up in rural Quebec.

Sookorukoff, who hails from Nelson and started with Cover in 2015, says she’d always pictured that practising architecture in her home town “would mean contributing to mainly smaller projects and being a part of a small firm.”

Turned out quite the opposite.

Cover started in 2013 with just three employees. Now they’ve got 24 of them including principals Graeme Leadbeater, Lukas Armstrong and Rob Stacey.

The firm has handled roughly 350 contracts since opening for business, with many of those in Nelson and area, but also across B.C. and Alberta. Cover has made its mark, with more to come, having worked on projects like the new SHARE Housing development, Taghum Shell, the Cottonwood stage and plaza, Ainsworth Hot Springs and the new Kalesnikoff Mass Timber plant. Upcoming projects include a redesign of the beloved Civic Theatre — close to Stacey’s heart no doubt, given his sister Eleanor’s tireless work there for years. The firm’s client list includes School District 8, Selkirk College, the Interior Health Authority and BC Housing.

Cover’s specialization however focuses on energy efficient design. The firm has spoken at the North American Passive House Conference a number of times, including the conference’s stop in New York City.

Armstrong says with Leadbeater slated to retire in the next few years, the addition of Paradis, Sookorukoff and Madore paves the succession path for what looks to be a bright and busy future for the firm, Nelson and Railtown itself. Cover completely gutted a base-of-Baker Street building a few years ago and opened its new HQ in expectation of what it believes will be a decade of development at the west end of town.

***

With a Globe and Mail article recently asking the question: “Will Canada become the next Silicon Valley?” a new study from the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology provides a glimpse into present day impacts of the tech sector here in town, and those to come.

Along with Selkirk College’s Applied Research and Innovation Centre (ARIC) the KAST study aimed to measure the tech sector’s economic impact. Some quick stats: Tech employs 3,426 full-time workers here, the majority of whom are 35 or older, contributing $525 million to the economy. What’s more, 62 per cent of all regional tech businesses surveyed plan to increase staff over the next three years, and for revenues to increase by about 21 per cent in the next year.

***

Still down in Railtown. Congrats to Sandy Leonard, page layer-outer and ad-maker for the Star. Sandy has moved on to Hall Printing after a decade with the paper.

To the Chamber of Commerce now where the Visitor Information Centre is preparing for summer, having hired summer staff and community ambassadors Tianna Sikora, Ashley Gureckos and Emma Wheeldon. Good luck to seven-year VIC staffer Trina Walsh who has departed the centre for new adventures.

The Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) has plans to fund Economic Recovery Advisor hires in the Slocan Valley and Nakusp. The funding comes via the Rural Business and Community Recovery (RBCR) Program and Community Futures Central Kootenay. There’ll be 30 part- and full-time recovery advisor positions hired to help businesses and rural communities in the Southern Interior. The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce will be bringing an advisor on too. Stay tuned.

***

There’s a sharing-of-the-torch happening in the local book business.

After 13 years at Otter Books, out-going manager Samara Nicoll is opening Notably — a book lover’s emporium aimed at complementing the other stores in town — on Ward Street, this month. Notably will specialize in fiction and creative non-fiction for teens and adults, beautiful stationery and book-ish gift items. There’ll also be a space for author events, book club meetings and games nights.

Nicoll says saying goodbye to Otter and owner Letty Bartels was hard to do.

“I’m very grateful to Letty for hiring me way back when,” she says, “and sending me off to my first book fair where I discovered how strong and supportive and resilient the indie bookselling community is.”

Nicoll has wanted to open her own store since she was 16 and says the learning curve has been steep and thrilling. She heads out into the business world with big blessings from her former boss.

“Samara is a very creative, capable person,” says Bartells, “and incredibly hard working. She deserves to do well.”

Otter’s location has some serious history for lovers of the printed word. The corner building has been a book store since 1973. It was Oliver’s Books until Bartels took over in 2003.

Letty told the Star back during Otter’s 10th birthday that “in an age of over consumerism, books are a really healthy thing to be selling.”

***

Speaking of health… Melissa MJ Armstrong has done an impressive overall on the former used-record emporium in the Nelson Trading Company, transforming it to Intuit Studio. Armstrong, says the venue will be a boutique yoga, dance, and fitness studio rooted in intuitive movement — a practice that unlinks movement from body or weight management, to moving for the sake of the joy of movement.

“Movement is medicine, simply put,” says Armstrong.

Intuit has 12 instructors lined up to offer over 30 yoga classes per week — from Kripalu Flow to Yoga Bootcamp, Dark Yin to Prenataland — and a dozen dance classes, seven days a week.

The Intuit design theme, according to Armstrong, a yoga practitioner for the last 20 years who hails from the marketing, branding and manufacturing sector (she also founded the PipSneaks baby shoes brand), is “Brooklyn meets Bangkok.” After five weeks of intensive paint splatter, saw dust and a heap of sanding machine help from Andex, Intuit hopes to open June 1, with COVID spacing requirements in place.

***

Last but sure not least. Congrats to the 2021 graduating classes of Mount Sentinel, J.V. Humphries and L.V. Rogers. Way to make it through the last year and a half, and the end of a 12-year adventure. The world needs you. Go get it.

See you all next month. Any business tips, send them to ddavidson@sbdemail.com.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that Marg Stacey worked at the Civic Theatre rather than Eleanor.

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