Services in Merritt and the Nicola Valley

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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

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Places to Stay in Merritt BC – Ramada

Places to Stay in Merritt BC

Ramada Hotel

Grown to Suit Traveler’s Needs

When asked what makes staying at the Ramada Inn in Merritt special among places to stay in Merritt BC, hotel owner Gurpreet Sekhorn speaks from the perspective of growth. The hotel has grown to include everything the traveler looks for in places to stay in Merritt BC. “The construction of this hotel was a long time in the making. It literally took ten to fifteen years to get it to where it’s at today. We’re the original family that built it. We started with thirty rooms and no hot tub, no breakfast.”

places to stay in Merritt BC Ramada water slide

East wing and water slide

places to stay in Merritt BC Breakfast room Ramada Merritt

Comfortable and sunny breakfast room

It’s Got It All!

The Ramada has certainly grown! Today there is a hot tub, indoor swimming pool, sauna, and a water-slide. In addition, guests will find spacious continental breakfast room, a meeting room, a mobile office, a fitness room, and a comfortable lounge area in the lobby.

Rooms have also been added. These include suites, kitchenettes, and honeymoon suites with private hot tubs. Gurpreet exclaims, “It’s got it all!”. 

We enjoyed our kitchenette, which was ideal for keeping snacks and beverages on hand. It was also very handy for the doggy bag from dinner at Nicola Sushi, which is just a short walk from the hotel.

 

Views–Inside and Out

While enjoying the swimming in the spacious pool area, one can enjoy the view outside and in. The mountain tops are visible through the large windows. The murals the decorate the walls and ceiling are a recurring theme throughout the hotel. They add a personal touch that is a pleasure to view. The fully equipped fitness room also affords a view of the mountains in the distance beyond the activity of the city. 

Murals complete the atmosphere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our room was a few steps away from a viewing area that tantalizes the outdoor adventurer! The mountain vista promises all kinds of activity! Merritt’s many trails, lakes, rivers and variation in topography make for easy access to all your adventures. From rolling grasslands to rocky knolls among pine forest, the fishing, mountain biking, bird watching, kayaking, hiking, paddle-boarding, and much more are great fun! Looking for gear rentals? The local bike shop, Breathe Bikes has mountain bikes, stand up paddle-boards, kayaks, snow shoes and x-country skis.

places to stay in Merritt BC Ramada patio view

Patio View

places to stay in Merritt BC

Spacious rooms

All of these additions are the measured result of the family’s long history in the business. Observing the existing places to stay in Merritt, BC, the tourism and types of people stopping in Merritt, these hoteliers added to the property to accommodate the needs of their guests.

 

What do Guests Look For in Merritt?

When asked what information guests most often request, Gurpreet says that his guests are often stopping over in Merritt, and are in need of the local businesses. He and his staff are able to provide options for places to eat and stocking up on supplies. Merritt has everything for the weary traveler. Other than those types of essentials, Gurpreet notes that the outdoors are a big attraction. Of course, I couldn’t agree more! He comments that this is what brings people to Merritt to stay for extended periods. 

Appeal of Places to Stay in Merritt BC

Gurpreet was born and raised in Merritt. He loves the small town appeal that Merritt provides for himself and his family. He has lived in California, but found himself drawn back to his hometown. Considering all that a place like California has to offer, Gurpreet’s example shows Merritt’s character as the hidden gem that most of its residents believe it to be.

Incredible Staff

Aside from the bricks and mortar amenities that the Ramada has to offer, Gurpreet praises his staff for making the Ramada what it is. He says the staff are incredible and have taken the success of their hotel to heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Places to stay in Merritt BC

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Sushi in Merritt BC

Sushi in Merritt BC – NEW Town Sushi

“Japanese food can be fancy and affordable”.🍴

That is what James, the owner and chef told me about offering his specialties; Japanese cuisine and Sushi in Merritt BC.  Oh yes, also James’s cuisine has his signature “style” and a “European twist”.  He may be the new kid on the block however he is  anything but new when it comes to preparing and delivering food. It is an experience at New Town Sushi that you will not want to miss.

If you live in Merritt, travelling through or a regular visitor to Merritt, you will want to make sure to take some time and make a stop at the newly opened New Town Sushi for an unforgettable meal. 

Exterior at New Town Sushi In Merritt BC

NOW OPEN at the Quality Inn In Merritt BC NEW TOWN SUSHI

 opened in October 2018 Don’t get this “New Town Sushi” confused with the previous restaurant at that location with a similiar name. Because it is NOT the same at all!  I think many are saying much better! Still in the process of branding New Town Sushi In Merritt BC, the goal is to offer  a dining experience in Merritt that brings  “Newer City Trends and Tastes to the Country”. There is plans for new and upgraded decor with a “classy” up-town environment. I was happy to see that James and his Family are doing what I thought was a great idea for Merritt. Something new and different, with a perfect balance of Quality and Price. I am pretty sure they will rock this!

The menu is full of choices that  offer authentic Sushi to creative rolls like the one called “let’s Go Merritt”, to a really good steak dinner! Yes they offer Western style food as well. I am told that whenever possible they will use fresh and local, like the beef  I had for my  delicious steak dinner. “Top quality ingredients are always used for all meals”.

 

 

 

 

 

“My Food is my Fashion, It changes over time”

James is a professionally trained and  practiced as a General Manager for over 20 years at a variety of restaurants where he acquired his knowledge, skills, experience and expertise from  all of the best. Being a General Manager in the restaurant business is not only about the cooking. It is about creating, teaching and delivering. He teaches everything about HOW TO prepare and serve Japanese Food. And he is good at it!

He spent many years learning and working at a variety of restaurants in Vancouver BC, Alberta and Kelowna. Including most recently Blue Tail Sushi In Kelowna BC. Now here in Merritt, he and his Wife Jessica intend to set the bar high! A motivator so to speak. Having Sushi in Merritt BC at New Town Sushi, is a game changer. 

You may be surprised to find that the word “sushi” doesn’t mean raw fish; it is an outdated Japanese term that literally means “it’s sour.” It refers to vinegared rice, commonly topped or mixed with fish or vegetables.

Eat In or order out.

New Town Sushi in Merritt BC is an 80 seat restaurant with a very inviting and comfortable dining room. group tables or comfortable booths. Alternatively, you can order for take out. Changes are being made for both experiences as the interior, although very nice is going to get nicer! Online ordering is available as well! That’s innovative. Although James says there is no expense spared in his food, the prices on the menu are impressive. There is a special on right now, 10% off on take out over $30 until February 29 2019

The first time I went to New Town Sushi, I went with my friend Jared. He introduced me and this is what he has to say about them; “As someone who has come from the coast and is a big fan of Sushi, it was a pleasure to find New Town Sushi here in Merritt. Having experienced dining in the city, I can confirm that New Town Sushi has brought the trends and quality that you would find in the bigger cities. Their Quality and attention to detail is what you would expect to find in cities like Kelowna, Kamloops or Vancouver.

 

;

I Love the names for the rolls, and I loved the rolls too! Cool names and delicious too! Consider the steak dinner, I did!

  • Red Dragon Roll
  • Spider
  • Rainbow
  • Green Dragon
  • White Dragon
  • Quality Green

Hungry? Get in touch.

Call or just stop in! They are easy to find! 

OPENING HOURS

Mon – Sat: 11:30 am – 9 pm

Call (250) 378-0855  4025 Walters Avenue. Super easy to find on the main road into Merritt, Voght Street, call them 6, soon to be 7 days a week. Or connect with them on FaceBook.

Go Ahead and order online RIGHT HERE

Do you have a favorite Sushi Restaurant? If you stop in at New Town Sushi in Merritt BC, I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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Chinese Food in Merritt BC

Chinese Food in Merritt BC 

Chinese food Merritt BC

Located in the Heart of Historic downtown Merritt

Chinese Food in Merritt BC Canada, CANADA CAFE

Serving Merritt for over 50 years!

Canada Cafe is famous for it’s delicious Chinese Food in Merritt BC. Because of that, it is not the least bit suprising, after 50 years in the restaurant business in Merritt, they have earned their reputation by serving up some of the best to found in the Nicola Valley! I love Chinese food.  I love Chinese food dining and love chatting with Dennis when I dine in or on occasion ordering take out at Canada Cafe. “Hot and Fresh” Guaranteed! 

                 Chinese Food Merritt BC Canada Cafe Dining roomCanada Cafe Chinese Food in Merritt BC

                 Restaurant dining room Canada CafeDining area in the Canada Cafe

 

Meet Dennis and his family at Canada Cafe in Merritt BC

Canada Cafe is a family run restaurant located in the heart of downtown Merritt. Dennis and his family took over September 15 2015 and Dennis can count the days! He tells me how much his family LOVES Merritt and the Nicola Valley! They Love Canada Cafe!   Dennis would be by any chef’s standards an expert in the kitchen! He has over 20 years experience cooking in a Chinese food restaurant in Chilliwack. It is a journey, a family life sharing their passion for cooking and serving the public! Merritt is lucky to have them!

Dennis was excited to share all of the attention to detail that makes Canada Cafe top of the list for choosing  Chinese food in Merritt BC. He sat with me and shared with pride how his restaurants food is “hot and Fresh”. I have to agree with that! He showed me around the restaurant and I could not help but notice and admire the pride he showed me.  So, when your hungry for Chinese Food in Merritt BC, stop in. You will not be disappointed.

Eat In. Take out. Catering. book a group. Cater an Event Canada Cafe has you covered!

Going into the Canada Cafe to dine is just great, in addition you have options to order out for free delivery, plan a group party and have a custom buffet, Cater out to any special event or meeting for groups of 10 or more. Dennis will promise you a great deal and Chinese food in Merritt that will be cooked up “Fresh and Hot”  

Chinese Food Canada Cafe Merritt BC Menu

More than just Chinese Food

Canada Cafe not only serves up some of the best Chinese food in the Valley, you can also dine on the classic western food like chicken strips, grilled cheese or deluxe burgers and fries! Canada Cafe is also fully licenced.

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Locals  Love the fresh food and Service

On my last visit, I talked to Kay who was waiting for her take out order. She has lived in Merritt for six years and has been going to the Canada Cafe in Merritt for six years!  Kay said she doesn’t have a favourite choice because, “It’s all good”!  She has tried other restaurants but says she “always comes back”!  Her favorites to order here is the Hot and Sour Soup, along with Chow Mein,  Sweet and Sour Pork and the Prawns. 

Canada CAfe boasts being awarded with Merritt Heralds People Choice Award 2018 for BEST CHINESE FOOD. you can see the award proudly displayed in the front window as you walk by. 

Best Chinese food Merritt BC award

NO MSG

There is no MSG at all, whatsoever, used in any of the food at Canada Cafe. That is good news for people that mat have allergies to it. 

Contact Canada Cafe is as simple as checking out their Facebook Page or calling 250-378-5551. They are open seven days a week and are easy to get to located at 2055 Quilchena Avenue, Merritt BC. (across the street from Fields)

After all this talking about their food, I’m hungry! I think this time, I will try the Hot and Sour Soup! 

Chinese food in Merritt BC

Canada Cafe Chinese and Western Cuisine In Merritt BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things To Do In Merritt, B.C.

Things To Do In Merritt, B.C. 

Spring, summer, fall or winter you will find many things to do in Merritt, B.C.

Seek out new stores

New and different “Things to do in Merritt, B.C.” just has to include new and different places to go. There are some new businesses in town and it took me less than 10 minutes to find two of them.

Both “The Bee’s Knees” and “Petals and Plants” are new shops on Quilchena Avenue in the downtown core and several more will be up and running by the time you read this blog. Seek them out and enjoy something different!

The Bee’s Knees

Owner Amanda loves her job! She started out with the idea of selling clothes from home but that idea sure mushroomed! So she  began “The Bee’s Knees” in March 2018 but outgrew that tiny space almost immediately!  Next, Amanda moved to her present location in the 1900 block of Quilchena Avenue in July, taking all her great ideas (and clothes) with her! 

This lady knows how to dress her clients! Amanda will offer you ideas and combinations you probably would never have thought of yourself. She is one creative business  owner and if you are an old doll like me, her advice will help you update your wardrobe, or at least bring it into the 21st century!And, bless her, the woman carries plus sizes too! Don’t be embarrassed. Ask Amanda! Shop here at The Bee’s Knees where you won’t be all alone!

Check out “The Bee’s Knees” for great event clothes, vintage looks and up-to-the-minute designs too!

Amanda will even do your nails to match your outfit! At the Bee’s Knees you will certainly leave happy, even if you just go to look! Check out Bees Knees Boutique on facebook.

Petals & Plants

The next new place I came across when I was hunting for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” was Petals & Plants. I heard more than one person say “Finally, a flower shop in Merritt!”

Yes, it is a flower shop- and more! Vicki, the owner, started her shop because, as she puts it, “I’m not great at retiring. I missed the people.” She won’t miss them here! The place has been full of customers and visitors every time I’ve stopped by! In addition to flowers, of course, Vicky carries lots of constantly changing items that make great gifts, so the place is likely to be full of people as well as petals & plants no matter when you go. So check it out!

Enjoy a mini spa day

For a list of “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” why not include a mini spa day! Start by going to the Aquatic Centre for a workout, followed by a swim, sauna and whirlpool. Then, take a hot shower, scrub with an exfoliant, pat down with a soft towel and use plenty of body cream. There. Now you are all soft and energized! Feels good, doesn’t it?

Afterwards? Keep your prearranged appointment at one of Merritt’s several hair salons for a wash, trim and blow dry. Then have a complete mani-pedi since many salons do both. And while you are there, try some new makeup too!

Now, you feel as fantastic as you look, so treat yourself to a nice lunch! Also, why not enjoy the rest of the day shopping?

 Return home happy, relaxed and revitalized, a new you!

Things to do in merritt, B.C.

Seniors aquafit

Take a Walk

Among the best and easiest “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” is to take a walk! Enjoy some of our gorgeous scenery and beautiful parks! Check out the possibilities in my blogs Walking Around Merritt” and “Parks in Merritt”and have some fun in any season. Incidentally, if you have kids with you, winter is a great time to walk in the park! Make snow angels, snow forts, snow people or snow pets! In addition to this, you can pack a snow picnic and add thermoses of hot soup and hot cocoa! Yum! You will have just as much fun as the kids!

Things to do in Merritt, B.C. -Parks

Ready for a picnic after a walk in one of Merritt’s parks

Check Out the Library

These days the library goes way beyond a simple place to read and borrow books. There are many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” right in our library!  Yes, we all know about borrowing cd’s, dvd’s, and audio books. In addition to these standbys, there are also many children’s reading programs, crafting classes, story times, adult literacy programs and art classes. Besides all this, there are computer classes (and computers to use), knitting, crocheting, gardening, painting, food preserving and various discussion groups that meet at the library. Surprised?

Add to this list some very interesting lectures and guest authors who do readings. Or, if you want a quiet, peaceful day, pick out a book, sit on the comfy sofa by the fireplace and just read!

With all this available, I’m sure you will find many “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” that will entertain you at any time of the year!

Have a Pub Lunch

Well, we all like to eat, don’t we? So of course I include food in my “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”  blog. Not the regular restaurants this time, though. The pubs!

A few years ago a friend dragged me, kicking and screaming I’ll admit, to a local pub for lunch. What a revelation! I actually had fun and a good lunch- at a reasonable price! Also, the lunch crowd was lively and fun. I could hardly believe it! I enjoyed myself!

Most pubs in Merritt have daily lunch and dinner specials. Try one! You will be surprised at how good pub food can be! And no, you don’t have to order alcohol with your meal if you would rather have coffee! However, a burger and a beer can go down nicely when you are in the mood.

Bonus- no one will give you a “look” if you laugh a little loudly with your friends!  

 Look at the seniors programs

If you are a senior, or know one, check out the goings-on at the Seniors Centre. This group certainly adds a lot to the “things to do in Merritt, B.C.” list. Try some of the following programs:

  • Vinyasa Yoga @ the Civic Centre
  • Seniors Free Swim @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stretch & Stability @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Noon Hour Aqua Fit @ the Aquatic Centre
  • Stand Tall, Don’t Fall @ the Seniors Centre
  • Cribbage
  • Bingo 
    Things to do in Merritt, B.C.

    swinging seniors

                                                                           
  • Duplicate Bridge
  • Carpet Bowling .                                                           
  • Court Whist
  • Physically Challenged Floor Curling                                 
  • Floor Curling
  • Floor & Table Shuffleboard
  • Drop-in Lunch
  • Drop-in Activities, Fridays
  • Rummoli & Games
  • Drop-in Activities, Saturdays
  • General Meeting
  • Potluck

Wow! And some people think seniors aren’t active!  Compared to what? Test out some things from this list and see if you can keep up!

Go bowling

How long has it been since you got a group of friends together and went bowling? Have most of us bowled regularly (we’re talking 5 pins here) since we were kids? Or maybe not bowled regularly since we were kids! If you’re looking for “things to do in Merritt, B.C.”, bowling is a fun one with the bonus of being genuine exercise! Check out Merritt Bowling Centre.  Enjoy noise, laughter, exercise and yes, food! Bring back some of the good times of yesteryear. Repeat often.

What Else Can You Come Up With?

 While there must be dozens more ideas that I haven’t even touched on, these are a few to get you started. What new ideas can you and your friends come up with?

Your senior blogger signing off for now.

Diane 

 

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Street Market Art – Merritt, BC

Street Market Art – Merritt, BC 

Community Art in Merritt, Canada

Youth Take Leadership and make Summer Nights Street Market Art

Street Market Art

Amy Maclaren’s creative flower crown

Street Market Art is happening every Friday night for the whole summer. Amy Maclaren has laid out a plan for character creation – decorating crowns and hats, belts and sashes, masks, and even shoe fun. And her fellow workers, Amrit Ahuja, Felize Omori, and Alexia Clark are a part of the action on the downtown Quilchena block in Merritt Canada.

The Nicola Valley Community Arts Council is employing these four young people through the Youth Employment Program. So this summer, the arts community has help with all kinds of projects and programs!

From the Street Market, to Open Mic Nights, to Corbett Lake Paint Outs this young group is pitching in to make our summer events successful.

 

From Prep to the Market

Street Market Art

Alexia and Felize create flower crowns

First comes the idea of setting up an NVCAC gazebo at the Friday Summer Nights Market, and enlivening it with activities.

With Amy leading the way for this arts project, the activities planned are all about costume and character building. As a student in Costume Design, Amy’s creative direction includes everything from coloured sketches to rainbowsequins.

Amy sources her materials for the market activities in town, materials accessible to everyone who lives here or are visiting the Nicola Valley.

 

Street Market Art

Everything tied or taped down

Gazebo and other necessities are gathered and set up on Quilchena Avenue, the main block. Our first night’s set up was a gusty wind challenge. Duct tape and bricks were in place before flowers and feathers. 

Merritt is a windy town, so the locals are prepared.

But after our first night, we are adding a few bungee cords and table clips to our bin.

The YEP workers get everything set up, and then two of them leave to set up and help at Open Mic. Amrit works the sound and Felize and Alexia welcome the audience there at the Kekuli Cafe..

 

Neighbours on the Street Market

There is room for over 20 vendors or non-profits to set up on the town’s busy block. From a big food truck to gazebos, to small tables, the block is almost full. The Farmer’s market is to the west of us. And a variety of displays is to our east. 

Janet Roth is overseeing the Love to Dance Academy’s table. She is there to let people know what a great dance studio we have in town. And encourage memberships in the Love to Dance Society that supports it. 

Street Market Art

Janet Roth at the Love to Dance Academy table

Charlene Lively has set up the Pro Rodeo display, with information and some news about the High School event that was taking place just that weekend.

Street Market Art

Charlene Lively at the Pro Rodeo display

There are jewelry tables and displays of woodwork by local craftsman.

Tina has set up her Humble Hobo Hotdogs Stand at the end of the block. And there is a new Curried Chicken food truck that has line ups for their generous portions.

And there are baked good tables to pick up something sweet.

Music at the Friday Nights Market

Street Market Art

The Strange Companions

We can hear country music coming from the speakers on the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, right on Quilchena Avenue, our main street.

And if we keep going, more music…

A favourite local group, the Strange Companions, have committed to several Friday nights at the street market for the summer. They have created a board of info and calls to action, like “Go on over to Open Mics…” Read while you stop to listen!

This group has been playing together for years, with musicians and singers coming and going. We never know who is going to show up when we know The Strange Companions are playing… 

 

Back at the NVCAC Gazebo

Street Market Art

Felize and Amy help kids fancy up at the Arts table

Amy and the Youth Employment workers lay out the week’s art activity. Their first work was fancy name or character cards creation with foam letters, sparkles, and shape stickers.

The second week flower and birds were provided for crowns and embellishments like coloured feathers and foam sparkle stickers were attached to cowboy hats

Last week, the YEP workers got busy with face painting and created characters for the children coming by.

What’s up this week?

Support from the NVCAC Directors and Members

Beside our art activity table, the NVCAC Directors set up a membership table under our gazebo, ready to encourage passersby to join our Arts Council and support the arts in all of the the Nicola Valley. 

Street Market Art

Mischelle and Gale discuss the Street Market action and the dancing nearby.

Two active members, Director of Programs Mischelle Pierce, and artist and Gallery supporter, Gale Simpson, discuss all the arts action happening in town!

This week, right at the end of our Friday Nights Street Market, some good music and dancing is happening at the Adelphi Hotel. Some of our great country and western musicians play there regularly. And people come from far and wide to hear them and get up on the dance floor.

This weekend there was a group from Arizona dancing up a storm. Not sure if they were heading out to the Rockin River Fest event in the Valley. Or if they just staed in town and enjoyed the action right here on the main street.

 

Visitors from Hobart, Tasmania

Street Market Art

Jane, Jasper with mom Lani, and Jean

It’s Jasper! My grandson from down under. Jasper is chatting it up with Jane Bartle, NVCAC Treasurer, mom Lani, and president Jean Kiegerl. I think Jean is selling Jasper an Arts Council membership.

And I know Jasper ended up with enough RCMP Musical Ride tickets to take all of us! 

Jasper and family weren’t the only visitors from out of town. We have travelers weekly, often from Alberta, the States, Europe, coming to experience the Nicola Valley.

Join us for some  Street Market Art!

Come down on Friday nights 6-9pm. See what’s up, buy or make an embellished cowboy hat or flower crown. Check the current week’s activity!

Street Market Art

Wearing their embellished cowboy hats

Sashes? Shoes art? What Street Market Art are we up to?

It’s usually free, with people making donations to help us buy the next week’s activity materials….

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook page to check out the next event!

And be sure to come down and see us, listen to some music, grab some food, stop and chat. Make yourself a crown!

Jano, Arts and Culture Blogger

 

 

Street Market Art

Vanessa Trenholm led a community canvas painting again!

 

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A Nicola Valley Perspective on Youth Entrepreneurship

A Nicola Valley Perspective on Youth Entrepreneurship

When we are young, we feel we can conquer the world. 

Not that long ago I was part of this vigorous demographic. Time flies eh! When we are young, we feel we can conquer the world but it’s not until we struggle accomplishing our own goals that we realize growing up may not be as easy as we thought. Let’s invest in our Youth (Youth Entrepreneurship). Give our Youth the opportunity to remember us because of the positive impact we had in their lives.

Entrepreneurship

From left to right: Carlos Olguin, Nathan Olguin, Alexander Olguin and Daniel Olguin

One morning I asked my 11 year old son what entrepreneurship meant to him?

We have different opinions for everything. Many times it depends where you are coming from and how life has treated you.  Entrepreneurship is no different; it might mean something different for each one of us. As an example, one morning I asked my 11 year old son what entrepreneurship meant to him? His answer was, “I know what the word means, but I keep forgetting. Entrepreneurship I think means like I heard it in the TV show Shark Tank. It was like learning to start a business and making your business. Kind of what you do at Community Futures helping people grow businesses”. 

If you had $50.00 dollars to start a business what kind of business would you start?

I was not expecting this answer so I had to ask a second question to my son. So Nathan, if you had $50.00 dollars to start a business, what kind of business would you start? This was his answer. “With $50.00 dollars I could start a lemonade stand and I could start selling lemonade. I would probably locate my lemonade stand in a populated area on a really hot day when people are rushing with their kids willing to pay 25 or 50 cents for an ice cold lemonade”. If we think a little bit about his answer, he not only thought about his target market, he also thought about the ideal location with the right foot traffic under the right weather condition to succeed in his business. Way to go Nathan!

What kind of programs and services are we offering to our Youth in our Community?

What are we doing to provide our Youth with the tools and resources they need to develop their entrepreneurial skills?

According to tradingeconomics.com “Youth Unemployment Rate in Canada remained unchanged at 11.10 percent in May from 11.10 percent in April of 2018. Youth Unemployment Rate in Canada averaged 14.04 percent from 1976 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 20.70 percent in October of 1982 and a record low of 10.30 percent in September of 2017”.

The option to invest in our Youth is no longer a choice but an essential need.

Given the high rates of Youth Unemployment in Canada, the option to invest in our Youth is no longer a choice but an essential need.  They are our future business owners that will represent the back bone of our local economy.

As mentioned by Will George, manager of Economic Development and Tourism for the City of Merritt “As a community we need to be open and eager to help assist Youth discover what entrepreneurship is all about. Starting a business is not just for adults but for anyone who has passion of starting their own business. Commencing at a young age helps Youth think about other opportunities besides just working at their typical jobs. Starting a business is not for everyone, but everyone should have an opportunity and resources available to them to make up their own mind on the matter.”

Entrepreneurship

Mark Nendick (PFN Coaching), Sarah Forsberg (Capital Cake Company), Travis Fehr (Breathe Bikes), Ashley Dearden (Sinfully Sugar’d), Preston Customs (Darren Preston).

Job creation is the opportunity to create local jobs for local people.

Part of my job at Community Futures is to help entrepreneurs start their own small businesses. Throughout the last eight years, I have helped numerous people start their own business. It is gratifying to see my clients succeed while running their own businesses, but I have also seen them struggling or breaking even especially for the first few months in business. 

Job creation is an important component within our community. It’s the opportunity to create local jobs for local people. There are some awesome programs that help create summer student positions such as the Summer Student Program. This program provides wage subsidies to employers to create employment for secondary and post-secondary students. I am all in favor of job creation, but I think we also need to incubate our local entrepreneurial talent.

Entrepreneurship

Merritt Youth Entrepreneurship Program 2018. From left to right: Manuel Olguin, Bryan Chavez, Sajjin Lali, Amrit Samra, Kara Wright, Julia Smith & Jacob Schultz.

Five young minds embracing lawn care, photography, web designing, and retail.

With this in mind, Community Futures Nicola Valley in partnership with the City of Merritt and the School District 58 this year launched the Merritt Youth Entrepreneurship Program.

This Youth Entrepreneurship initiative was offered to all Nicola Valley students in grades 8-12 who were looking for some extra cash this summer. This program not only provides up to $200.00 start-up funding but also provides business resources to support our students in their entrepreneurial path. 

 These five young minds will have the opportunity to run their summer business for the months of July and August. Four different industry sectors will be represented by these five entrepreneurs: lawn care, photography, web designing, and retail. These students will also have the opportunity to showcase their businesses at the next Provincial Community Futures Conference on September 13-15, 2018 here in Merritt, B.C.

Entrepreneurship

Photo courtesy of Junior Achievement

Junior Achievement has several programs such as Dream Big.

Junior Achievement has been working actively in our Community for the past years. They have several programs that include: A Business of Our Own, More Than Money, Dollars with Sense, Be Entrepreneurial, and Dream Big amongst other programs.

In 2016 I started working closely with Kara Wright the Program Coordinator for Junior Achievement office in Kamloops. We successfully delivered the “Be Entrepreneurial Program” to grade 9-12 students at Merritt Secondary School. While working on the Merritt Youth Entrepreneurship Program, Kara and I successfully delivered the business model canvas. This business model canvas was delivered to five successful students enrolled in the program. For those of you who may not know, a “business model canvas” is a business model all on one page. 

4-H Club in Canada.

A few years back, I remember reading about the 4-H Club in Canada. It’s great to know that this club is finally back in Merritt. In the near future, I will be blogging about the 4-H Club in the Nicola Valley. Stay tuned!

The lack of initiatives to support the Youth in my home-town discouraged me from starting my own business.

For those who do not know me, I grew up in a small town close to Mexico City. Thinking back in time, I wish I had such programs as all those mentioned in this blog. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, but lack of initiatives to support Youth in my home-town discouraged me from starting my own business. I am glad my children are raised in Canada where I can let them explore their entrepreneurial skills by shoveling snow or cutting the grass in my neighborhood without being concerned about their own safety.

We just might figure out a way to make the world a better place.

Entrepreneurship may be kids selling candies or home-made popcorn to their classmates at school, or having a lemonade stand on a sunny day. It’s Youth with the courage, creativity and drive to face the potential setbacks along the way of their entrepreneurial path. 

By supporting and recognizing what our local Youth Entrepreneurs are bringing to the table, we just might figure out a way to make the world a better place.

Supporting our Youth! What a great legacy to leave behind us. 

MOR

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Merritt Summer Nights Market

Merritt Summer Nights Market

“People like to have a place to be able to shop unique items and congregate.”

Starting Friday July 6th, 2018

Small town summer nights markets…… if you haven’t experienced at least one, you should! StartingMerritt Summer Nights Market Friday July 6th, 2018 there will be more than ever to experience in the Nicola Valley. We want something new and exciting. Something to do on Friday nights. Merritt Summer Nights Market! A place to congregate and encourage business, and what better place than right down town Merritt?

An opportunity for local downtown and home businesses

There are a lot of small home businesses in Merritt, but not many platforms to sell their products. In the day and age of social media, it is easier than ever to get your business out there for free. But really, where else can you go to sell your products? Sure there is the odd craft fair. Maybe an event every so often like Canada Day in the Park, the Garlic Festival or the Fall Fair. But other than that, where do you go?

Merritt Summer Nights Market

Looking east down the stroll

The reality is, people like to have a place to be able to shop unique items and congregate. To take a little cash and maybe buy themselves something you can’t buy in a general store. Maybe it is just a garage sale antique, or something nostalgic from their childhood.

For me I like to find unique gifts for Birthday’s, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. I like to find unique jewelry for myself. I love my “real” jewelry, but I am a lover of “junk jewelry” and hand made items. I like things that are different, often statement pieces. I often find it is the cheap earrings that I just happened to stumble upon on some crazy clearance that often are the ones people admire most!  

And there’s the food…

Then there is the smell of a Summer Night Market. You know the one- the fried onions, pulled pork,

Merritt Summer Nights Market

Will there be fresh berry pie?

donairs, hotdogs, and mini donuts. The smell of fried food we all know we shouldn’t eat, but secretly relish in enjoying.

We are inviting vendors for different food. And for now we know we have…home baked goods. Love home baked goods. The banana bread, zucchini loaf, cookies, pies and squares we all take home in two’s so we can eat one to ourselves, and serve the other to guests so they think we baked (or at least I do LOL).

Stroll down the middle of the road.

Merritt Summer Nights Market

Cars now…but wait!

There is something to be said about being able to stroll down the middle of a road. One that is otherwise occupied by cars. That feeling of seeing the road as something different than a path for cars. It is now a place to greet people, stop and have a chat. Seeing the businesses that line the sidewalks with their doors open letting the cool Merritt Summer Nights Market air in after the sweltering summer heat has eased off. I don’t know about you, but I always feel more prone to walking in to a business with the door wide open. Almost like they are inviting you to come in and browse without pressure. Somehow it seems friendlier, and I find it’s amazing how such a small gesture subconsciously makes you want to go inside.

 

Let’s get this going! Participate in the Merritt Summer Nights Market!

We are just starting out. We’ll see if we can attract all the amazing small businesses, nonprofit orgs, the delicious food vendors and music to make this a small town success in our town of Merritt. Join us in making this Friday night event a success!

I invite you, I encourage you, to come down to Quilchena Avenue and enjoy a Merritt Summer Night Market. Shop all the local businesses, come for the food, the fresh produce, and some great finds, but stay for the experience. The experience of the Nicola Valley!

See you there!

 

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My Merritt Experience – Becoming a “Merrittonian”

My Merritt Experience

“…I AM a “Merrittonian” now. When I leave to go back to the Coast I can’t wait to come home…”

Writing a blog about my “Merritt Experience” with business …….something I had never really thought about until Etelka Gillespie approached me a few months ago. That was when I was all sparkly and new to my job as the Executive Director for the Merritt & District Chamber of Commerce. What would I write about? Would people really want the perspective of a “Coastie” on Merritt?

For those of you who don’t know what a “Coastie” is, it is an endearing term used by “Merrittonians” to describe those of us born and raised on the BC West Coast that migrate to live in Merritt later in life. Ok, I have to admit, I don’t really look like I am from here. Still sporting a “Coastie” hair do, short and platinum, and even after almost 5 years (this July actually). I still get asked “you’re not from here are you”. It is pretty obvious! LOL. People know me by my hair, or my kid, and not necessarily by me personally. That’s all a part of my Merritt Experience.

I wanted to be close to family…

I am looking forward to telling you about my experiences with the businesses of Merritt. But for me, that really isn’t what brought me to Merritt. Not a job, or anything related to business. I moved here because my Mom, Dad, and Aunt live here (and my sister and her family now). But honestly, I moved because husband was dying of cancer after a long 7 year battle, and I needed support.

My family now – Photo credit Julie Pollard ~ Merritt Pro Photo

I wanted to be close to family as I started my journey as a single Mom, living on my own for the first time in my life. Merritt was a whole lot more affordable than living in Sardis BC. Who would have thought I would be a widow at 36 after 18 years with my husband? Nevertheless 15 days before Christmas, here I was. New to Merritt, just 5 months of living here, no friends yet really, and working from home for a company at the Coast.

 

 

Adjusting to Merritt surprisingly wasn’t as hard as I thought!

 People recognized me as Maureen’s daughter (there may be a slight resemblance between me and my Mom) or just a “new” person. They accepted us, no questions asked. My daughter’s schoolmates, teachers, and parents supported us when her Dad passed away, even though they didn’t know us. Christmas gifts and casseroles, food baskets, cards and flowers were dropped off at the front door by people we didn’t even know. No explanations, just a Merry Christmas before we could even ask who they were. My late husband had touched people while volunteering with the Community Policing Office. Even in the short time he had been here, I couldn’t believe just how much.

Slowly I found myself venturing out more and more without having my husband to care for. I became a regular at some businesses. People wanted to know my name, where I was from. They remembered me and my daughter the next time we came in. It was so different from being at the coast, where there were simply too many people to remember just one.

The servers at the Home Restaurant knew my daughter loved the “Little Logger Breakfast” on the children’s menu and a hot chocolate, and they knew I loved the beef dip which I ate religiously unless it was breakfast time. As I became a regular to more and more businesses, I was greeted more often than not with familiar smiles, people who said “hey, we haven’t seen you in a while”. Even Jason at the mobile fruit stand that parks in the parking lot at Century 21 every summer asked how my husband was the following summer when I came back alone with my daughter (who he remembered by name). My “Merritt Experience” list was growing faster than I realized, all because of the people. 

My Merritt Experience – I was a person, not just a customer!

Living in Merritt was becoming more and more about the experiences we were having. It was about being able to buy something from Creative Company that was different than the norm and showing off the great thing I found in Merritt, it was still being able to buy myself a nice designer top or jeans at Spaner and Webb or Work N Play.

And yet it was also about having the option to shop at a franchise store like WalMart, Canadian Tire or Extra Foods, but with one big difference. There were no long line ups and crowded aisles, even at those franchises, they knew us. We weren’t just another customer. It was different here, special, still large enough to have the option of shopping for what we needed but small enough that there was always a level of personal experience wherever we went. That is what started my love of living here, those people that chose to own or work for a business here.

It’s about the people who make the town what it is.

Eventually it got to the point where now, we can’t go somewhere without seeing someone we know, in fact it would be a rare exception to have that happen. But that is what Merritt is. It’s the place where you find friendly businesses, you experience them, you don’t just shop in them. It’s about the people who make the town what it is. They are the ones who welcome tourists with the open front doors in the summer time, and a place to warm up in the win

Me, my daughter, and my “Shiny New Husband” – Photo Credit Julie Pollard ~ Merritt Pro Photo

ter. The people love this town so much and want to see it thrive. They love to show off what Merritt is all about when visitors arrive and are directed to all the great places they can experience when they are here. (I could go on and on but I guess I should leave that part for another blog.)

I guess what I am trying to say is I AM a “Merrittonian” now.

When I leave to go back to the Coast I can’t wait to come home, and in fact I even have a shiny new husband who has come to join me here and opened a new business! He too fell in love with Merritt, the people, the experience, the lifestyle…..but that is another blog for another day.

I hope you will follow my blog and follow my EXPERIENCES with the businesses here, through what was a tourists eyes. Even now, in a lot of ways, it is still through the eyes of someone who “isn’t from here” originally but absolutely LOVES to live here now!

You will begin to understand why you will want to come here and see what the “Merritt Experience” is all about.