, , , , , ,

Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

Looking for Things To Do in the Nicola Valley? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC – Vision Quest Optical and Gifts

“Come Downtown and Buy Something!” 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Decorative BC designed drum bag

Jeanine Gustafson, owner of Vision Quest Optical and Gifts, encourages people to shop local in Merritt BC and support our businesses. That’s the message she would like to send out to the people who live in the Nicola Valley.

Vision Quest is an eclectic shop right on the corner of Quilchena and Voght Street, a corner everyone passes when they are downtown Merritt. Jeanine has a prime location on the main block, and fills her windows with a lively display all year round. If you pop in to see what’s there, you’ll find jewelry, gems, glass frames, toys, cards, books and local art.

On the Quest for Vision Services? Glass Frames? 

Jeanine is an optician with 30 years experience and her shop began as a way for her to offer optical services to the people in the community. You can find a room full of diverse frames for children, women, and men in Vision Quest shop, and Jeanine can help you find a frame you like and fulfill your prescription. She offers one more great choice in the community before a person decides to head off for Kamloops or to online services. Definitely worth checking out!

Looking for Local Art? 

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Bead Jewelry Galore

Over the ten years Jeanine has been providing options for vision care, she has expanded the offerings in her shop. Vision Quest is full of art, crafts, and jewelry created by about 40 local artists. 

All year round there are gifts, mementos, and useful items to choose from: cards by Marilyn Lytton, blankets from Amelia Washington, handmade soap from Les Keys, baskets and beading from Charles McKay. 

Jeanine herself creates feather earrings and other jewelry. There are painted tiles and jewelry by Pauline Ouellet, cards by photographer Heidi Koehler, beading by Ashala Harvie. And beautiful pained rocks by local artist Georgina Beatty! 

1st Nations Art 

Jeanine says the majority of the artists showing their work at Vision Quest are 1st Nations from the Nicola Valley, and some

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

1st Nations Art

from nearby regions like Lillooet. Her contacts also provide her with 1st Nations items designed in BC to satisfy her visitors from other provinces and countries. Look for beautiful designs on drum bags, a red lampshade, beaded earrings, medallions, baskets, cards…

The prices at Vision Quest are reasonable and range from about $5 to…more. I was very taken with a gorgeous across-the-shoulder bright turquoise suede bag, for just over $100. 

The local work in Jeanine’s lively, full shop is worth a leisurely search.

But I will admit that the jewelry, especially the gem jewelry, at Vision Quest often draws me through the welcoming doors on Quilchena Avenue.

Gems and Trinkets Galore!

Shop Local in Merritt, BC

Gems and Jewelry

Jeanine’s windows are full of her jewelry, hanging or displayed in photo frames. And once you are in the shop, the jewelry is displayed in every cabinet, and in every nook and cranny. Amethysts, rose quartz, topaz, garnets, you name it. There are simple pendants to elaborately set jewelry, rings, earrings, bracelets in all shapes and colours.

There is also a diverse assortment of costume jewelry and a variety of pretty bags for storing your gems and trinkets.

What else? 

Jeanine carries local books from local authors when possible, fun toys for kids, guitar pics…

And a good supply of beading supplies: seed beads, gem beads, and others, and lots of supporting items like thread.

Business in Merritt 

I asked Jeanine what support she gets from the community. And her reply, “I am still open.” 

Shopping Local in Merritt, BC

Tiny decorative painted bird houses

In my opinion, with years of experience in owning a retail business myself, ten years is a success story!

Jeanine Gustafson is the owner of Vision Quest, renting her prime location from the local owners of the building. She has been open for ten years and is very familiar with what works downtown, and what doesn’t. She talks about how she is supported by the City of Merritt’s policies and attention. 

What can be better? 

However, Jeanine is very clear about what does not work and the trouble she has sometimes in her dealings with the City, like keeping the cobblestones level to reduce hazards to pedestrians and make it easier for wheelchairs and walkers. 

She discusses things that a city and the locals can do to support business in the community. What Jeanine chats about sounds a lot like the discussions that I hear happening at group meetings like the Business Resurgence, Vision Merritt, and the talks of

speakers at the Community Futures seminar.

We talked about business licenses, signage, opening days, first impressions…

What Works? 

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Hand made baby moccasins

Jeanine talks about other businesses and organizations which are supportive. For instance, she mentions how helpful the Open Door was to her. And comments on the support that Work BC has given to people she knows. 

“All sorts of fun people come in!” 

Jeanine enjoys the people who come in. She has regulars who pop in for tea and chats. She serves a steady flow of people coming in for optician services. And she welcomes all the visitors to town who make their way through her doors.

As we know, Merritt attracts people from all over the world. Jeanine often acts as an ambassador and tells people where to go in town, and what is happening locally. She has stories she shares with visitors, things I didn’t know about the history of some of the surrounding buildings and I’ve lived here for a lot longer….

What do you enjoy the most?

I asked Jeanine what she enjoys most about her business. After a moment’s thought, she describes the fun she has setting up

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Feather earrings by Jeanine Gustafson

the Christmas windows! Jeanine possesses the considerable Christmas village collection of the late Marguerite Kempin, a long time resident of the valley. It takes Jeanine a month to set it up, with no days off! And it will take a month to take down, ready for the next display! So it was great to hear that is a favourite part of her shop experiences.

I enjoy the Christmas window! And I know others who do too, some who take their grandchildren downtown to view it all.

Have you seen it? Whoops, it may be too late for this year. But the next display in Vision Quest’s display windows, on the corner of Voght Street and Quilchena Avenue will be there soon. Stroll by! Pop in!

Vision Quest is open Tuesday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday 11am-5pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.

But Jeanine is open on Mondays in the summer months. She says Monday is a busy day in Merritt in the summer!

And how will she keep going in the slow months? Jeanine’s message to the locals: “Come downtown and buy something!”

Now that’s a positive message that supports all the shops in Merritt!

Thanks, Jeanine! Good visit! 

Shop local in Merritt BC

Blue suede bag

 

Contact Jeanine Gustafson at Vision Quest visionquestoptical@gmail.com 

Vision Quest Optical and Gifts Facebook

More on the arts and culture scene in the Nicola Valley

And if you want to see more local art visit our local Arts Gallery at the heritage Courthouse on Nicola Avenue. 

And visit our Nicola Valley Arts Council site, to see what’s happening in the arts in our valley.

The NVCAC is also on Facebook. 

And check out my Creative Community Facebook page.

Shop local in Merritt, BC

Shopping at Vision Quest

.

 

 

, , , , ,

Country Christmas – Things to Do in Merritt, BC!

​Country Christmas Week Here in Merritt, BC!

Country Christmas delivers fun and community spirit…

​With a Festival of Trees, a Community Choir event, the Love to Dance Performance, our fabulous Christmas Parade, and shopping til midnight!

“We keep having to paint more little festive canvases as people buy them right off the tree!​”

Country Christmas

Tiny Painted Canvas Decorations

Our Country Christmas week is spectacular! It takes place during the last week of November and is one of the best things to do in Merritt.

My own experience started a few days before the week of celebration with the arrival of our tree at the Courthouse Gallery. For several years the Festival of Trees has involved an inspired number of businesses and non-profit groups. The groups each decorate a tree in their own fashion, from classic to creative, 

This means we have trees decorated with hockey pucks, ballet slippers, and peacock feathers-and everything in between. One year I decorated our Pop Up Shop tree with little dolls and teddy bears (all with sparkle halos on their heads) and rainbow feather boa garlands.

Festival of Trees 

Country Christmas

Festival of Trees Past at CMHF

For the first years of Country Christmas, all the trees were set up on the main street of town, in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. It’s a beautiful building with hard wood floors, high ceilings, and western-style chandeliers. The venue attracted locals and visitors from neighboring towns to see our Festival of Trees.

This year for the Festival of Trees event, all the decorated trees are spread out around the town, and people head out to do the tree tour. We adorned our tree at the Courthouse Gallery with tiny canvases, painted by local artists and interested Creatives. We keep having to paint more little canvases as people are buying them right off the tree! And all the money supports the Gallery.

Love to Dance Performance

Country Christmas

Love to Dance “Museum of Art”

This year, for the Country Christmas festivities, the Love to Dance Academy​ presented “Museum of Art”. Dance teachers Lizette Nel and Vanessa van Rensburg choreographed the dances which involved dancers of all ages, from adorable tots to graceful seniors. 

Herman Nel looked after the creation of the sets designed by Vanessa and Lizette, as well as the lights and music. Over a hundred colourful and gorgeous costumes and dresses were designed and sewn by talented members of the Merritt Dance Society. And there were plenty of volunteers, parents and dance lovers, who helped pull off the beautiful event. 

The two-hour long performance was presented at both an afternoon matinee, with classes of children arriving on school buses, and a stellar evening performance. 

Michelle Etchart, local songstress, performed two moving pieces while dancing continued around her. 

Country Christmas

Michelle Etchart

The night performance was captured on video, with CD’s available. I attended the matinee, and will be sure to acquire the evening performance CD. Worth watching again! And kudos to all those involved, with special recognition to the dancers showing such professionalism in putting on the two events in the same day!

Thanks to the Love to Dance Academy!

Christmas Concert!

Talk about things to do in Merritt! The night after the dance performances, several choirs and singing groups, duos, and soloists, provided a soul-satisfying musical evening to a large crowd at the Merritt Civic Center. (That’s the farthest away from the doors I have ever had to park in my many years of Merritt living!) 

Country Christmas

Merritt Community Band

The Merritt Community Band was there, the Community Choir, and more…

Also, Cecilia Dyck and Caitlyn Stephanie Walsh played piano duets, the four Snees entertained, and Michelle Etchart again performed with her spot on renditions.

And not only did the groups and soloists perform their own pieces, but the collaborations amongst them, and even the audience, brought the community together in inspired evening of music.

Well done! Bravo!

Then the Santa Parade…

I have heard that our Santa Parade is the largest in the world! The country? Our province? Well, I’ll wait to be informed properly but I do think the Nicola Valley Santa Parade is one of the best things to do in Merritt!

Country Christmas

Santa Parade 2018, Merritt Herald photo

​The Merritt Country Christmas Santa Parade’s success shows what stuff our community is made of. We are tough, determined, hard working, creative, and ready to have fun…and all in support of our businesses and organizations.

And this year’s parade tested all of those qualities because it started to rain as the parade entries were lining up, started to pour as it got going, and the rain didn’t quit until near the end, when big fat snowflakes started to fall. People knew they’d get soaked, but they didn’t stay home. The floors of the shops, open for business until midnight after the parade, had puddles from the rain soaked customers….

Check out the photos of the rainy event on Merritt Herald‘s online coverage.

Open Mic Night, one more thing to do in Merritt during our Country Christmas week!

Country Christmas

Donna Dixon, a regular at Open Mic night

On the Friday night of the Santa Parade, I jut got wet running out to my car, and then dashing in to Kekuli Cafe. We put on a special Open Mic night that night! And we watched the rain come down, then the snow, and then mopped up the puddles that our audience left on the cafe floor when they poured in after the parade and settled in to the cozy venue.

 Mugs of hot coffee, tea, and hot chocolate were in high demand! And we invited our musicians to warm up the crowd. Al and Denise, Robert Bertrand, Willard Wallace, Quade Lindgren, Jim West…

And regulars like Doug and Donna Dixon were there to enjoy the live music.

 

It was a special Country Christmas 2018 

Pouring rain during our Santa Parade only adds to the memories!

I hope there are always Country Christmas planners and volunteers. This week is a highlight in our community. It gets all of us who participate in any way, from young to old, in the mood for the holiday season, whatever our beliefs. We come together, show off our talents, have fun, support each other and are inspired to be thankful for each other. 

So kudos to the people in our community who plan Country Christmas, who put on the events, and who participate in them to make them all worthwhile. 

Let’s recognize each other for the contributions to community that Country Christmas brings!

Country Christmas

Painted Canvases on our Gallery tree

Now, does anyone want to come to the Courthouse Gallery to paint a little canvas for our tree? I found some empty spaces again! All welcome!

And you can wave to the LTD dancers while you are there. We share the Courthouse space.

Life as I know it, Jano Howarth

Creative Community

Nicola Valley Community Arts Council

 

 

 

Country Christmas

Phyllis Laage’s Tree Decoration

, , ,

Artists of Merritt, Canada – Libby Dybikowski

Artist of Merritt- Libby Dybikowski

“I like to work quickly and spontaneously…”

Libby believes art can help you see the world in a different way.

Artists of Merritt

Turquoise Vase 16″x20″ Acrylic on Canvas

Libby Dybikowski is one of our popular and prolific Artists of Merritt. Her work is known for colour vibrancy, for bold brush-work, and for simple themes with lasting appeal. She says the enjoyment of the Nicola Valley surroundings and the pleasure of travel to exotic locations drive her choice of subject matter. 

I first met Libby at a Nicola Valley Community Arts Council meeting. And I discovered a focused, articulate lover of arts and cultures, with skills of great use to a social-profit organization. We worked together when I first took on the Gallery Director job for the arts council. She hung my first show, collaborating with the three lower mainland artists for the “Poetic Language of Landscape” exhibition. I will always be grateful…

Artists of MerrittI first encountered Libby’s art, when I invited her to fill some spaces for a community show we held. A lot of the art contributed by the community ended up, to a large part, smaller in scale than I anticipated. Libby’s work is all sizes. And she brought in several large canvases, covered with bold colour and form. I became a fan…

From the words of Anne MacKay, Chief of Conservation at the McCord Museum in Montreal, “Libby Dybikowski’s skillful handling of colour and form give her work an impact that is hard to deny. Strong, sensuous and daring, her paintings grab the observer at first glance, and continue to engage with every viewing.”

 

Montreal beginnings, Vancouver life… 

Artists of Merritt

Burrard Inlet, Before 18″x24″

Born in Montreal, Libby spent her first twenty or so years in Montreal. From her website: Libby has been a lifelong appreciator of the arts, including music, theatre, dance and fine art. A graduate of McGill University in French language and literature, with a year at the Université Aix-Marseille and two summers at Cornell’s Hotel School, her professional achievements prior to painting included management strategist, negotiator, and founder of a successful national executive search business. 

Libby enjoyed painting as a child, and watched her father, an architect, paint “en plein aire”. As a teenager she found more interest in music, and playing the clarinet and appreciating classical and jazz forms.

From age 20 to retirement, Libby worked in Vancouver, in human resources for Hilton International and the Bay, and as a university administrator at UBC, and finally owning and operating her own executive search firm, Provence Consulting, that specialized in searches for university administrators for universities across Canada..

Artists of Merritt – Libby Dybikowski in the Nicola Valley Artists of Merritt

Upon retirement, Libby and her husband spent more and more time in the beautiful Nicola Valley. Here she ran across a watercolour workshop given by Jean Kiegerl, picked up her brushes, and hasn’t looked back since. She switched to acrylics and now paints often, in spurts. Inspired by her surroundings: the landscapes, the animals and people around her, and her travels. Libby includes mixed media is some of her work, like paper and netting.

She has a studio where she can leave out her paintings in progress. Libby walks away from them when the artistic flow stops or slows down, and returns to them when the time is right.

One of her pastimes, between painting bursts, is spending time with her horse, Buttercup. For a while Libby also created jewelry with semi-precious stones.

More About Libby

Artists of Merritt

Libby and fellow artist Kim Vizi-Carmen

Libby enjoys playing bridge with friends.

She prefers coffee to tea, dogs to cats. 

Libby watches tennis and late night talk shows – or parts, like Stephen Colbert’s monologues. Her favourite movie is still Lawrence of Arabia. And favourite books are Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities and The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje

Libby loves to bake and enjoys French cuisine. 

And France is her favourite country to visit.

Libby loves to travel, creating her own travel adventures with her husband, Jim.

Support, Inspirations, and the place of Art in Society.

Artists of Merritt

Libby and husband Jim

Libby feels she gets a lot of support for her painting, from Jim, and her friends and fellow artists, like Kim Vizi-Carmen and Jean Kiegerl. She has received mentoring from many artists, including Joanne Beaule Ruggles and Patricia Peters. She has enjoyed painting alongside artists, like Cyndra Bradford in California. Libby says she has learned a lot in the company of other artists.

When asked about the challenges she has encountered in pursuing her art, Libby talks about the importance of pleasing herself when she paints and not being affected by the opinions of others.

 

She believes that art stretches society, that it can help you see the world in a different way. “Bigger and better…bigger skies, deeper oceans.”

Libby has long admired Canadian Group of Seven artist, Lawren Harris. She visits art galleries and museums for inspiration in cities when she travels- Paris, Barcelona, Nice. “Amazing!” And most recently, Marrakesh, a city she would return to…

Merritt 2 Marrakesh 

Artists of Merritt

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Libby is showing at the Courthouse Arts Gallery. There are over 30 paintings depicting three themes: her recent trip to Morocco and the exotic city of Marrakesh, the city of Vancouver, BC, and the Nicola Valley. From horses, to mountains, to colourful city scenes, to flower still life, and in all sizes, Libby has something for everyone to enjoy. And all of us in the Nicola Valley have the opportunity to acquire a Libby Dybikowski painting of our own.

Come and see Libby’s work at the Courthouse Arts Gallery on Nicola Valley in Merritt. Or visit Libby’s website, where you will find her paintings are available for the world.

See for yourself and tell a friend! September 6-29, 2018

Merritt 2 Marrakesh

Read more about other artists of Merritt and art and culture in the Nicola Valley, here on Experience Nicola Valley.

Check out our local Nicola Valley Community Arts Council site to see what is happening in the arts in the valley.

Jano Howarth

Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation: it changes us.  Lawren Harris