It takes a village — If retail trends in outdoor soft and hard goods and motorsports are any indication, it’s going to be a busy 2021 in the West Kootenay backcountry. Ski and snowboard touring gear, snowmobiles, snowshoes — even snowblowers — have sold at a record pace. Local shopping support has been critical for businesses throughout town this year, including Main Jet Motorsports, whose staff posed for the Chamber of Commerce’s Support Local, Stay Safe campaign last week. Photo: Darren Davidson

It takes a village — If retail trends in outdoor soft and hard goods and motorsports are any indication, it’s going to be a busy 2021 in the West Kootenay backcountry. Ski and snowboard touring gear, snowmobiles, snowshoes — even snowblowers — have sold at a record pace. Local shopping support has been critical for businesses throughout town this year, including Main Jet Motorsports, whose staff posed for the Chamber of Commerce’s Support Local, Stay Safe campaign last week. Photo: Darren Davidson

BUSINESS BUZZ: Hey 2020. ABC-ya later

Part 1 of the Nelson Star’s alphabetical year-end review

By Darren Davidson

With 2020 winding down and a light at the end of the pandemic’s tunnel, The Buzz bids an A-B-C-ya’ to a rough and tumble twelve months, with a few more left to go. Hopefully not too many.

A stands for Advertising. It keeps this newspaper, its website and all our contemporaries alive and kicking. And these days, dependable journalism, local or otherwise, is so important. The Nelson Star couldn’t do it without you. So. Thank you to everyone who has supported the paper this year, and the rest our community’s media outlets, too.

B — Boxing Day. To open or close? The big buying and browsing day is the perfect storm for the sort of crowds health officials are warning against in these Covid-y days. Some local stores are considering closing, in an effort to reduce foot traffic. Seems a strange consideration, but then again, these are strange times. With the unexpectedly strong numbers some retailers have experienced, perhaps some can afford to close for the sake of safety. A big ask.

C — Cannabis + Commerce. With nearly $700,000 in provincial monies provided to the Central Kootenay Community Futures’ Central Kootenay Cannabis Initiative, and an estimated 2,500 small scale producers in the region (yes, 2,500), the program’s recently secured processing facility site in Playmor Junction is proof the province wants to see profits from pot. So do private investors. Check out the progress at 45 Government Road, home of the Nelson Cannabis Collective. The first phase, including four 4,500 square foot grow rooms, is slated for completion this spring.

D — Dancing Bear. Opened on July 1995 when local visionaries Brooke and Sandi Leatherman renovated the old Allen Hotel, the Baker Street hostel has welcomed visitors from ‘round the globe. New owners Chloe Melville and Ian Ord took over from Jamie Renney and Tucker Braund just in time for The Bear’s 25th birthday — and a worldwide pandemic. “Quite the time to get into the hosteling business,” laughs Chloe, with a boisterous 17-month-old and four-year-old rollicking in the background. But they’re doing it. Way to go Chloe and Ian. Hang in there.

E — Elected officials. Morrison, Mungall, Anderson, Dooley, Conroy, et al. Even without a global economic shut down and hellish health scare, there has never been a more difficult time to be a politician or community leader. No matter what party flag you fly, these folks deserve our thanks. There’ll be one more brave soul to join City Hall’s fray in the civic by-election later this winter – will they lean left, right or wrong? Time’ll tell.

F — Fashion. From our laneways to locally-made labels, Nelson really is a little couture colossus. In true shop-local spirit, lots of clothing retailers have expanded inventory to include locally made jewelry, bath and body product inventories left behind with the cancellation of Christmas fairs and seasonal markets. Hit up stores and sites for the likes of Scout, Zinnia, Strutters, Lily and Cohoe, Silver Lining/Shoe La La, Bia Bora, Lilikoi, Moon Monster, Habits, Woosahh, Esprit De La Femme, Baker Street Men’s Wear, Blue Sky, We Are Stories, Want … and for the kidlets — Pipsqueaks and Zapped.

G — Get out there. Be kind. And this winter, be patient. Coveted for years thanks to its crowdless quiet compared to Whistler/Vancouver’s Coast Mountains and Calgary’s Rockies, the West Kootenay’s beloved backcountry is slated to be quite a bit busier in 2021 according to retail trends in outdoor soft and hard goods and motorsports. Ski and snowboard touring gear, snowmobiles, snowshoes — even snowblowers — have sold at a record pace at Main Jet Motorsports, Playmor Power, and all along Baker Street, now a world renowned and veritable freeway for consumers of fresh air, its prerequisite wares — and directions to not-so-secret stashes.

H — Hall Street. Six years after the city undertook its $4-million dollar Hall Street Revitalization, the thoroughfare linking downtown’s stores to the West Arm’s shores is coming to fruition. Since the days of past mayor Deb Kozak, Hall Street is hitting its stride. There’s a major reno planned at Vince Devito’s Shoes, ROAM’s new boutique venue is a hit, the space at Hall and Vernon has some new tenants — Focused Life-Force Energy. Kootenay Co-op Radio has undergone an inside spruce-up and next year an outside one too, Nelson Cares’ 43-unit affordable housing block at Hall and Front fits right in, and in January, the city will know if the Hall Street pier overhaul will happen. The project, slated at over $1.2 million and mostly grant-funded, has been beautifully envisioned thanks to the minds at Nelson’s Stanley Office of Architecture.

I — Interior Suspension. For mountain bikers looking to take the bumps out of their braahhpin’, former Campbell River businessman Kevin McEvoy has opened up a much-needed new shop for suspension repairs. Located in the Front Street Emporium, the journeymen welder and ironworker has sourced some top notch equipment from Italy, and plans to branch out to Fox moto and snowmobile suspensions next. Need your shocks repaired, but don’t have the removal know-how? Go see Darrel at Secret Service Bike Repair beside Whitewater. The pair work in tandem. McEvoy moved here with his gal Page Allison, who found work as an acupuncturist and athletic therapist at Solis Integrative Health Centre.

J — Jobs. And loss. Losing a business or job can be as devastating as losing a loved one. It’s true. And not having work — even if you’re getting a partial paycheque sitting at home — can be horrible and painful, financially of course, but emotionally and mentally too. There’s a great article in the Globe And Mail from last year — “How to handle isolation in times of job loss.” Some advice — be aware, be accountable and take action. If you or somebody you know has been bumped off the payroll, check in with Kootenay Career Development Services for job support, and Nelson Community Services for mental health assistance. There’s a helping hand out there.

That’s it for this week — Merry Christmas and all the best this season everyone. Stay safe. And keep on keepin’ on.