A successful entrepreneur and vital community leader, Judy Banfield recently sold her Mountain Baby shop at 636 Baker Street. The retailer first opened in a tiny space on Ward Street as Comfort and Joy in 1994. Not one to sit still for long, Banfield now plans on spending time writing a book on parenting, getting back into piano and enjoying the bounty of recreational opportunities in our region. Photo: Bob Hall

NELSON BUSINESS BUZZ: Baby, you’ve come a long way

Judy Banfield has sold Mountain Baby, and other business news from Bob Hall

There are going to be plenty of warm hugs and tears at 636 Baker Street over the next couple weeks as retail pioneer Judy Banfield gets set to leave the downtown shop she started 25 years ago. On Feb. 1, Banfield turned the keys of Mountain Baby over to new owner Angela Goertzen who will now guide the “the biggest little-kids store in Nelson” into the future. After helping with the transition this month, Banfield will say her final goodbye in March.

With an impressive background in early childhood education and parenting support, Banfield began her run as small business owner in 1994 when she opened Comfort and Joy in a tiny space at 536 Ward Street.

“The big thing for me is I wanted to have a store that was baby-friendly and child-friendly that only sold items that would really contribute to the quality of people’s lives… for the parent and the child,” she says. “That was the ethic that started at the very beginning and one which has driven this store the whole time.”

Comfort and Joy slid down to 509 Baker Street and then in 2006, Banfield changed the name to Mountain Baby and moved to the current location.

“I was always an advocate of kids being outside with their families and being in nature, I wanted a name that reflected that,” she says about the change. “I also thought it would be a really good name for a website.”

Banfield’s enthusiasm for her customers always put her ahead of the curve, which was the case with the name change and website. She was the second independent children’s store in Canada to have a website where products could be ordered and delivered.

The ebb and flow of the local and global economy has not always been easy, but there was one part of the job that always kept Banfield’s enthusiasm high.

“What kept me going through the years was that I love the interactions with the families,” she says. “Now the people who were babies when I started are parents, so I have seen the next generation. It’s delightful to see the continuity happening.”

Goertzen lives in Rossland where she started Delicious Baby and Toddler Boutique in that community. Stop in and say hi to the new Mountain Baby owner where you are sure to also get a big hug from Banfield.

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Over the last two years, Backroads Brewing Company has upped the vibe in Nelson’s downtown and as the crew behind the tasty craft beer get set to mark their second anniversary in March, they are also celebrating a major expansion that has doubled its brewing capacity and nearly doubled its interior seating capacity. Backroads began the expansion project back in May 2018 — just a little more than a year into its existence.

“Since opening in March 2017, the brewery has consistently seen huge demand for its beer and we struggled to keep up with the Kootenay’s insatiable thirst for locally made craft beer,” says Backroads CEO and founder Brent Malysh. “The additions to the brewery tank farm now put us in a position to keep up with local demand and potentially start distributing beer beyond the West Kootenay.”

The Baker Street destination also undertook alterations to the taproom layout that has allowed it to apply for and receive a new interior person capacity. Backroads can now have 103 people in the taproom and an additional 20 on the patio in the summer. The old capacity was 56 people inside and 14 on the patio. This significant increase should mean that the brewery will not have any more lineups to get inside, which previously was a regular occurrence.

The expansion is perfect timing as the brewery is set to celebrate its second anniversary on March 23 and 24. Cheers!

•••

This week (Feb. 18 to 22) is Chamber of Commerce Week in British Columbia. It’s pretty amazing to think that there are more than 120 members in the BC Chamber’s network. These organizations play a significant role in building links in their business communities with a key role of business advocacy. These are the folks encouraging policies that support businesses and economic development throughout the province.

The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce was established in 1893, four years prior to the incorporation of the City of Nelson. If you are stopping by the local office down in Railtown, ask current Chamber manager Tom Thomson to pull out the original petition to the federal government with the signatures of the 26 local business people that led to the incorporation the South Kootenay Board of Trade in April 1893. This town doesn’t exist without those pioneers and the generations of businesspeople since who have built a local economy that thrives 126 later!

•••

Whitewater Ski Resort is no stranger to making it onto impressive lists and if you’ve had the chance to get some turns in over the last week, you know exactly why! Just before Christmas, the little resort that does, made it onto a list in Forbes magazine under the headline: “The Top 10 Ski Resorts in North America for 2019.” The powder hangout was number nine and amongst the likes of Jackson Hole, Telluride, Whistler-Blackcomb and Vail. We are truly fortunate to have such an incredible world-class recreational amenity in our backyard.

•••

Golf season in the West Kootenay is just over a month away, but Granite Pointe Golf Course general manager and head professional David Belling is already in fine form. Last week, Belling won the World Senior Golf Teachers Cup at La Iguana Golf Club in Costa Rica. Congrats to Belling and let’s hope he brings some of that sunshine and warmth back with him so we can hit the links in early April!

•••

That’s it for this edition of the Business Buzz. If you have a noteworthy business bite to include in an upcoming column please fire off an email to bobbyhallten@gmail.com with all the pertinent information. Remember, this column is only as good as the information provided. Please note this column is not a platform for advertising sales or products, just a conduit for keeping readers up to speed on all the cool moves, awesome events, helpful workshops and notable promotions that take place in our wonderful little mountain community!

Bob Hall is the communications coordinator at Selkirk College and a volunteer director on the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce. His column appears in the Nelson Star once a month.

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