Posts

Don Loewen Saddlery

Leathercraft Nicola Valley Merritt BC

Nicola Valley Merritt BC’s own Don Loewen Saddlery – Leathercrafter.

 Don Loewen Saddlery – Leathercraft Nicola Valley Merritt BC Canada. Experience this Nicola Valley gem. With over 30 years of experience, Don Loewen Saddlery has created over 500 horseback riding saddles. This has earned Don’s saddlery a stamp of pure “Authentic Quality Craftsmanship”. Many of us who have tasted ranch life appreciate Don’s unique skill and talent. To ride in one of his saddles is truly an experience and honour.

Don Loewen Saddlery

Introducing Don Loewen.

In order to know Don Loewen, we need to know his history.

From birth, Don grew up within a cowboy family. Growing up with an interest in horses and saddlery he made his first saddle at 14yrs old. Don realised early in life he had a unique passion and talent for shaping leather with his hands. Don began his journey at the age of 17 leaving home and attending  “Saddle School” in South Dakota. Itis here he honed his skills as a saddle maker and artisan.

Don Loewen Saddlery - Leathercraft

Notably Don does not lack leatherworking skill.

Consequently Don opened up a home-based shop.

Meanwhile after cowboying in southern Alberta and at Douglas Lake Cattle Company with some time working in the logging industry, Don returned to his true passion of saddlery. In 1995 he opened a home-based saddle shop called Don Loewen Saddlery. Eventually he opened up a storefront business in downtown Merritt B.C. in 2004.

Don Loewen Saddlery - Leathercraft in Nicola Valley

Don showing Tania Stewart the frame of saddle.

Our saddles are highly customized to your specific needs.

Lets take a look at how Don begins to make a saddle. Firstly, a frame is made of wood and fiber glass of the horse’s frame. From that frame a saddle is fitted for the horse. Comfort, durability and the ability to stay positioned throughout a full day’s ride, is what makes Don’s saddles so well known throughout Western Canada.  Ground seat design, the skirt and seat design are skills that Don teaches and owns with a sense of pride.

Don Loewen saddles

This is a newspaper clipping of an article done about a few of Don’s students.

Equally important are Don’s unique leather belts.

Every leather belt is one-of-a-kind.

Don Loewen Saddlery leather belts

Don’s one-of-kind leather belts.

Additionally Don has added other high-quality leather products.

As well as saddles, Don crafts belts and traveller’s notebooks. Furthermore, Don passes down his art of leather crafting with teaching a wide range of people. Most rememberable were the young high school students and adults from Sweden.

Don Loewen leather bags

Truly a master leathercrafter.

Don’s saddles are well known throughout Western Canada and the World.

Horseback riding leathercraft

Horse reins.

Furthermore the skill of Don Loewen continues.

Together with his beautiful wife Jody, they have six wonderful children and two precious grandchildren. Don’s eldest son has also learned the basics of the craft of saddlery.

Don Loewen Saddlery - Leathercraft

Leather artistry at it’s best. Don Loewen.

Coupled with Don’s skill and talent everything is proudly made in the beautiful Nicola Valley Merritt BC!

Artisan Don Loewen

Artisan Don Loewen.

“I am busy as I need to be,” Don Loewen.

Horseman Don Loewen

Not to mention that Don once made a saddle for “Marmaduke”

Testimonial from Alex Robinson

“Don Loewen has always had a reputation for building a good using saddle. I looked at a couple of Don’s saddles that the cowboys in the valley had ordered and had been using for every day ranch work and I was impressed with the quality of the rigs and how they were standing up. I’ve been riding my Loewen saddles for some time now and haven’t got one complaint. The saddle sits on a horses back well and I’ve never rode in a more comfortable seat. Don’s saddles are reasonably priced and you will never get a better person to deal with.”

Alex Robinson
(Cow boss)
Quilchena Cattle Co.
Quilchena B.C.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Don Loewen Website

250-525-0220

Don Loewen Saddlery

Leathercraft Nicola Valley Merritt BC

The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company

Skateboarding in Merritt BC in the Nicola Valley

“Jay and Tobey would like to say thank you to their amazing customers, friends, and family who have made The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company in Merritt BC what it is today.”

 

Three Seven Eight Skateboard

A Hidden Little Gem

When skateboard shopping you will find that The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company in downtown Merritt, BC provides an array of skateboard merchandise, knowledge and experiences. The locally owned and operated skateboard shop services all of the Nicola Valley.

Jay the owner of Three Seven Eight

Falling in love at a young age

As with most kids, Jay got hooked on skateboarding when his older brother, Dave, introduced him to the sport. Jay loves the creativity involved with skateboarding.  Both in the actual physical activity side of the sport, as well as, the product art work side of things.

When dreams become reality

For as long as Jay could remember he wanted to have a skateboard company or own a skateboard shop. He knew when the construction started on the Merritt skate park, it was now or never. That’s when Jay and his wife, Tobey,  opened up their shop in the Spring of 2005. They will be celebrating 15 years, coming up, in the Spring of 2020.

Nicely done Jay and Tobey!

Not just boards sold but so much more

The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company offers the top brand boards in the skateboard industry and focus mostly on regular street skateboards, although they do a little bit of business in snowboards.and longboards.

The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company in Merritt BC Merchandise

In addition to a variety of boards, the shop also sells apparel, footwear, sunglasses, hats, backpacks, and accessories. Their in-house line of “378” apparel and skateboards is always a great seller. The customers love supporting a small business these days, and their 378 line creates a sense of community and family. The amazing customers and friends are the reason that Jay and Tobey can continue to keep their doors open.

The Future is looking bright for 378!

Jay and Tobey’s future plans for the shop is to continue to make their shop the best they can. Staying true to what they have been doing.  Continuing to offer the best brands in the skateboard industry and also expanding on their own 378 line.  Check out their Facebook page. An online store possibly down the road but they’re still on the fence right now.

Skateboarding in Merritt BC

When I asked  the question of the best places to skateboard in Merritt, Jay’s response was that it was a tricky question…the BEST place to skateboard in Merritt would have to be the skateboard park.

However, the FUNNEST place to go skateboarding is anywhere in the streets where there are unique obstacles. Skateboarding has always been and always will be the best in the streets.

Heartfelt Thank You’s all around

In conclusion, Jay and Tobey would like to say thank you to their amazing customers, friends, and family who have made The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company in Merritt BC what it is today. They’d also like to thank anyone who prefers to buy from a small business when they can, it truly makes a difference in a community. Lastly thank you to Experience Nicola Valley for asking us for this blog article.

Contact Info

The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company
2149 Quilchena Avenue
Merritt, British Columbia
Call (250) 378-8179

Facebook

The Three Seven Eight Skateboard Company in Merritt BC

Skateboarding in Merritt BC in the Nicola Valley

Creative Company – Places to Shop in Merritt BC

Unique and Beautiful handmade products in the heart of Merritt BC

“Merritt BC has a wonderful little shop called Creative Company and there you will find something for everyone.”

Places to shop in Merritt BCCreative Company is a shop located in our downtown core where local artisans share and celebrate the art works and skills of our Nicola Valley artists. These art pieces include: Stained Glass, Hand Woven Scarves and Tea Towels, Handbags, Silver Jewelry, Baby and Children’s Clothing and Blankets, Photography, Slate and Wood Products Western Home Decor, and much more.. So many different and neat items. You will want to go in and check out Creative Company for a special gift or grab something for yourself.

Shop in Merritt Creative Company

Outside of Creative Company in Merritt BC Canada

Art Places to Shop in Merritt BC

Creative Company was founded in 1989 by locals who saw a vision of bringing artisans together to display their works with the people of the Nicola Valley and with visitors exploring the valley.

Let me introduce you to the first 4 artisans of Creative Company . I was fortunate enough to interview each one. I am sure that you will enjoy their stories as much as I have. Take some time to stop into this great gift shop in Merritt BC. Say hello and purchase something for yourself or your loved ones.

Unique Wooden Bowls by Pat Tombe

unique wooden bowls and plates

Beautiful bowls and plates made by Pat Tombe

Michelle Bacon (MB): Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Pat Tombe (PT): After spending most of my life taking things way too seriously and way too much time making a living, my wife Cathy and I made a change by moving to the Sunshine Valley outside Lower Nicola and commencing semi-retirement. This has allowed time to pursue activities that I never considered before. Instead of spending all my retirement fishing and golfing, I spend most of my time in my workshop making furniture and turnings.

 

(MB) : When did you start creating these beautiful bowls and join Creative Company?

(PT) : I started  wood turning in late 2017 and joined Creative Company in December of 2018. I really enjoy taking a bland piece of wood and carving it into a pleasing shape both to the eye and the hands.  Therefore my wood turning focus has been on bowls, platters, plates and hollow forms.

MB : Can you tell us a bit more about your wood working creations?

PT : I especially enjoy adding embellishments by way of carving, pyrography, dye, paint and texturing. One uses all manner of weird things in the process – guitar strings, blow torches, chainsaws, drills, hot metal, chisels, nail punches, nails, metal flakes, rust, crushed rocks, flowers etc. Also, one may start with a “plan’ but as the process is carried out sometimes I am amazed at where I end up.

And more about Pat’s work

PT : As with many things when learning something new I have applied the time proven strategy of doing everything wrong until I discover a new way – many times by accident. I still have many misadventures to cross off my list. I was amazed how involved the process can be and it sometimes may take me weeks to complete a piece. This results in having many pieces on the go. Once in a while some things turn out mostly right and with the encouragement of the nice people at Creative Company I offer these turnings to you.

If you were interested in more of Pat’s work you can email him at ptombe@tombeherrington.ca or call 250-378-9492

Vicky Martin Knitting and Crocheting

MB: Tell me a bit about yourself.

hand crafted kitting and crocheting

Hand crafted crocheted and knitted items by Vicky Martin.

VM : I have lived in Merritt for 40 years. I worked at Overwaitea Food for 25 years and then real estate for 5 years. Since I retired I have been very busy with my crafts. Self taught knitter and crocheter. I learned how to spin yarn and how to weave. I feel pretty lucky that I am able to do something that I love and pass it along to others through Creative Company.

MB : What products are you showcasing in Creative Company?

VM : I weave ladies and men’s scarves and tea towels. I have many crocheted items and many knitted items such as ladies, men’s and children’s toques, scarves, coats. Also, head bands, slippers, gloves, summer hats and other miscellaneous items. Hot and cold rice packs.

MB : How long have you been with Creative Company?

VM : I have been with Creative Company for 3 years.

Thank you for your time Vicky, I am sure our readers will be excited to come in and check out your beautiful creations at Creative Company in Merritt BC.

Richard Tenisch Silversmith

silversmith

Sterling silver rings, earrings, buckles and more.

MB : Hello Richard, can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

RT : Born and raised on a small farm in Switzerland and with the love of horses and open spaces. I decided to work as a cowboy. Then took a silversmith course 20 years ago. I have been doing buckles, earrings etc ever since.

MB : What types of products have you been sharing in Creative Company?

RT : I have buckles, earrings, conchs, pendants, rings, scarf slides, bracelets and money clips. As well as horse gear for saddles and headstalls all in sterling silver.

MB : How long have you been sharing your products in Creative Company?

RT : 6 years now I have been with Creative Company.

Thank you Richard, you have some absolutely stunning pieces of jewelry.

You can find Richard Tenisch online at Richardtenischsilver or on Face book here.

Sheila Schwan Weaver

MB : Good afternoon Sheila, we would love to hear a bit about yourself.

Weaver merritt bc

Sheila Schwan weaver in Merritt BC Canada

SS : Retired to Merritt area to a small acreage off Mamit Lake Road. Started weaving about 10 years ago and fell in love with the craft. Also spin, knit, crochet, cross stitch and rug hook. 

MB : What types of products do you have at Creative Company?

SS : I have woven scarves, blankets, place mats and runners. As well as, hand spun yarn and dryer balls. Custom orders are welcome.

MB : How long have you been with Creative Company?

SS : I have been with Creative Company for 3 years now.

If you would like to see any of these artisans products then this is one of the gift shops to go to in Merritt BC.

Creative Company located at 2074 Quilchena Avenue, Merritt, British Columbia V1K 1B8

Store Hours: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm
Phone: 250-378-0813
Description: Unique Handcrafted Items for Sale
Payment: Cash, Debit, Visa
For more great stories about the Nicola Valley and Merritt check out our web site at Experience Nicola Valley.

Creative Company – Places to Shop in Merritt BC

Tim Horton’s in Merritt BC Canada

Where to get a coffee in Merritt British Columbia, Canada

“Double, Double is a very Canadian term! However, I am a 2 cream and 1 sugar type of Canadian.”

 

Anybody who knows me well knows that the Merritt BC Tim Horton’s is one of the coffee shops I visit regularly while I have been consulting here in Merritt British Columbia, Canada in the Nicola Valley.  Satisfying my java craving, some call it an addiction, comes easy for me as I have come to know many of the Merritt coffee shop owners by name.

Merritt BC Tim Horton’s Java Fix

However, at the Merritt Tim Horton’s they know me by sight and know my coffee order before I even speak a word. I guess I have made an impression. Not sure if that is a compliment or a dig? I am going to take it as a compliment. Why? Because I truly enjoy building quality connections and friendships wherever I go. If they know my order and serve it to me with a smile I must be doing something right. Better yet, they are the ones doing something right!

Nick, helping his staff, multi tasking as he helps serve his customers.

I Like Coffee

I like coffee a lot! In fact, I may just like meeting positive people even more. There is no doubt, when I can get both when ordering a coffee I am the big winner. The more I enjoy the conversations, laughs, stories and the company of an individual the more I want to support their business. The trick is to find the positive people in and among the negative. Harder to do then it sounds too.

I have seen plenty in my coffee travels while criss-crossing this great country. And the truth be told there are both. There are positive and negative coffee shop owners. The Tim Horton’s in Merritt BC has always served me a positive experience every time.

Nick and I at Merritt BC Tim Horton’s

Meeting Merritt BC Tim Horton’s Owner

So you can imagine my delight meeting Nick, the owner of the Merritt BC Tim Horton’s –  the home of the “Double, Double” (Canadian slang for ordering 2 cream and 2 sugar with their Tim Horton coffee). After I arrived in Merritt to do some tourism consulting it took a few coffees before Nick and I eventually connected. We introduced ourselves to each other and we hit it off right away. From then on in Nick has always made an effort to say a quick Hi even when his coffee shop is a buzzing.

The Apple Never Falls Far Away From The Tree

Then I started meeting his staff at the Merritt BC Tim Horton’s, one by one, while ordering my “Timmies”.  We built a relationship over the counter and now I am “fist bumping” with some of the staff when I visit.  So cool, right!

Merritt BC Tim Horton’s Supports The Community Website

Nick and I started our chit-chats on a more regular basis. Soon later, Nick got wind of a website launch party in Merritt being held at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame celebrating the new Tourism Nicola Valley “Living” Website. As a result, Nick offered to provide the coffee, tea and some “Tim Bits” (donut holes) to snack on. Thank you Tim Horton’s! Good thing too, because there was a lot of people.

Walk Of Stars – Ian Tyson – Merritt Tim Horton’s

Walk Of Stars

Outside the front door of the Tim Horton’s coffee shop there is a wooden display with a hand print of a country music star. These hand prints are located throughout the City of Merritt and are part of the Walk Of Stars self guided tour. In total there are said to be over 72+ hand prints plus 1 foot print. How cool is that. The Walk Of Stars display in front of the Tim Horton’s coffee shop celebrates the country music star, Ian Tyson.

Meet and Greet Over A Timmies

I finally freed up some time to meet with the owner of the Merritt Tim Horton’s, Nick. For some time now I have wanted to to tell his story and feature his Merritt business. We sat down recently for a quick chit-chat about his story and his Tim Horton’s.

Talking Merritt and Tim Horton’s with Nick

Here are the questions I asked Nick when we sat down:

(Q1) Why did you select Merritt BC as your location for Tim Horton’s?

(Nick) Merritt is such a wonderful place, just like paradise. It is a peaceful city. Very nice people here.

(Q2) What makes Tim Horton’s special?

(Nick) A great place for all to gather together and meet. Our menu is always growing. We treat our guests on a personal level and we work hard to welcome everyone as they come through the door.

(Q3) Tell us about your menu?

(Nick) We have breakfast sandwiches like sausage and egg on a biscuits, bagels, and english muffins. Tim Horton’s just rolled out a vegan menu now with “Beyond Meat” too. We have a lunch menu with cheese, turkey and other types of melts. In a few days we will be launching the “Beyond Meat” Burgers. However, our selection of soups seems to get a lot of attention. And of course our pastries like donuts, fritters, muffins, bagels and others.

Tim Horton’s in Merritt BC

(Q4) Tell us about your staff?

(Nick) My staff is wonderful. We are a mixture of personalities. We encourage friendly service etiquette therefore living up to the standards set out by Tim Horton’s. I have a wonderful, wonderful staff. I am very lucky.

(Q5) Where do you see Merritt Tim Horton’s in the future?

(Nick) Hopefully we can establish another location on the other side of town. Keep improving our site and, just maybe, we would like to put a patio. We want everyone to feel like home.

(Q6) Is there anything else you would like to share?

(Nick) Merritt and the Nicola Valley are a wonderful place to live, work and play. It is a wonderful tourist destination. I want everyone to come and enjoy Merritt, meet the people, and come to see why we love it here. In conclusion we have everything here in the Nicola Valley including a lot of lakes, adventure trails, parks, and attractions like a golf course and the Canadian Country Music Hall Of Fame. There is so much more.

Tim Horton’s Location

3340 River Ranch Rd,
Merritt, BC, Canada

Tim Horton Website

Tim Horton Facebook Page

If you are dropping in at the Merritt BC Tim Horton’s give Nick and his staff a shout out from Greg at eh Canada Travel.

Merritt BC Tim Horton’s Coffee Shop

 

 

 

 

 

Courtesy Corner Supermarket

Lower Nicola Merritt BC Grocery Store

“We don’t need to go into town as much.”

 

Lower Nicola has a Merritt BC grocery store called Courtesy Corner. The mini supermarket is a family owned business located just outside Merritt BC Canada on Hwy 8 towards Spencer’s Bridge.  The Merritt BC grocery store offers a large selection of products that are priced comparably well with other big chain grocery stores.

But what everyone seems to want to talk about is how they are always treated with respect, and greeted with politeness by the proud owners of Courtesy Corner, Shamba Singh Bhown and wife Shreya Bhown.

Courtesy Corner Family Owned Grocery Store

Meet The Owners  Shamba Singh Bhown With His Wife Shreya Bhown,

I had the opportunity to meet Shamba and his wife Shreya while making a quick stop to buy a lottery ticket on Saturday March 29, 2019. And to my surprise they were having a customer appreciation day. Best yet, there was a  Lotto Max rep “Kyleen Horodyski” on site handing out free giveaways along with cake and balloons.  Sweet! I was greeted by the owners with free Samosas.

Time To Merritt Blog

I  took the opportunity to ask the Bhown’s if they have ever heard of Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers? My story telling side (my blogger within me) came out and explained to them what was happening online and within the Nicola Valley. They quickly agreed that it was a good idea for me to  write a blog about their business!

Shamba Singh Bhown with his wife Shreya Bhown, along with their reno/store handyman Paul Jensen.

Experience Nicola Valley Interview

Type of Merritt BC business – Corner Store/ Supermarket.

(Q1) What made you come to Merritt BC Canada and purchase this particular business?

Shamba “I knew that we would do a lot better here. With its great location, beautiful area, friendly community. Right away we were welcomed by everyone.”

(Q2) How long have you been in this type of business?

Shamba “Many years, I have a lot of experience and through the years have been able to connect with reliable wholesalers along with brands I stand behind.”

(Q3) Can u give me an example?

Shamba “Organic Natural Drinks, along with Saunders Family Farm.”

(Q4) Are there advantages to owning a Merritt BC business here in the Nicola Valley?

Shamba “Many advantages. It is very community based, loyal customers, situated on a busy Highway that is well travelled by tourists, as well as, we have other small communities nearby that rely on having a grocery store nearby that supplies products at comparable prices along with a large selection.”

(Q5) What future plans do you have for your store?

Shamba “We will be putting in two gas pumps, as well as, start selling propane. Soon after we hope to obtain a permit so we are able to sell fishing & hunting licenses too.”

(Q6) Why do your customers keep coming back?

Shamba “We work hard to model our business to what people expect. Honesty, quality, selection, comparable prices, listening to what customers want.”

(Q7) Can you tell me an example of going above & beyond for your clientele?

Shamba “Last year we purchased the store in April, and within a couple of weeks the river flooded washing out the bridge. It made it almost impossible for many people to get into Merritt. After a few days our supplies were running out, so I drove to Kamloops to stock up on merchandise, making sure we could supply all the necessities for the community. Furthermore, I also drove to the lower mainland to purchase goods and stock up.”

Courtesy Corner had a winning ticket celebration March 29,2019. Representatives from Lotto Max were on location for free giveaways,

The Store With The “Winning Touch”

Amazingly not once but twice,  Courtesy Corner has sold  a winning lottery ticket to 3 of their frequent customers. Making them instant millionaires and “Living The Dream”.  The last 25 million Lotto Max ticket was sold recently.  It was a ticket sold by asking the customer if he wanted buy a ticket for that nights Lotto Max draw.  Talk about upselling!

Products You Can Find At Courtesy Corner

Courtesy Corner Supermarket offers such a wide range of merchandise and household provisions that makes it a “one-stop-shopping” grocery store.

Courtesy Corner is well known in the region for having comparable prices, with a wide range of provisions. Everything from office staples to vehicle products.

Frozen goods. Ground beef from Lower Nicola’s butcher Keiper’s Ranch.

Beauty Products For Him & Her

Impressive selection of beauty products comparable to the larger box stores.

Products for men & women.

Great supply of hair products available.

 

 

Awesome Selection Of Ice Cream For Every Sweet Tooth For “Those Hot Summer Days”

World’s coldest Ice Cream! Try the Mini Melts!

Happy customer enjoying a tasty cone.

Hard to resist this Cotton Candy Ice Cream!

 Fresh Produce Or Planting A Garden

vegetables and fruits are fresh and a great variety is available. Along with garden seeds they also have spice & seasoning.

Planting a Garden this year. Great selection of seeds.

Fresh produce available daily.

In case you forgot. Spices & Seasonings

Merritt BC Fishing And Hunting In The Nicola Valley

Unique items can be found at Courtesy Corner.

Hunting & fishing essentials.

Cabin Fever!

 

 

Vehicle Products

With its own section, vehicle owners will be pleased to see the selection of essentials needed for their ride.

Found at Courtesy Corner vehicle oil and wiper fluid.

Air Fresheners also!

 

Prepaid Cards Available & Rapid Chargers

A wide sort of prepaid cards available at Courtesy Corner.

Need a charge? Rapid charge available.

 

 

Testaments From Happy Customers

The customers I talked to couldn’t say enough positive things about the owners of this Merritt BC grocery store. They were telling me how impressed with the re-modeling of the inside, as well as, the selection of merchandise available.  Most importantly how gracious and friendly the staff are.

Brad & Irene Bennet

“Love Lower Nicola Courtesy Supermarket! What they have done to it , staff are great, courteous and helpful. amazing selection of products!” Brad & Irene Bennet

In Conclusion

Nicola Courtesy Corner Supermarket. A  family run business that offers a selection of merchandise/provisions that equal any big box store prices.  I was amazed at the selection that was on display.   Above all I dont live in Lower Nicola but I may find myself shopping here more. Experience The Nicola Valley.

“Awesome Store! We don’t live in the Lower Nicola, but we love this store” Dorothy & Helen Clarke.

Bus Stop 

There is a bus stop located on Aberdeen Rd. in Lower Nicola Valley. The bus stop is only a few steps from the store. 
There are public bathrooms. Video surveillance on site inside and outside.

Lower Nicola Courtesy Corner Friendly Staff

Courtesy Corner Contact List

Phone Number (250) 378-9457,

407 hwy 8 w
Lower Nicola, British Columbia

Outside Lower Nicola Area, Dial +1 2503789457.

Hours 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM Mondays – Saturday
Sundays 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Price Range $$ comparible to larger Supermarkets
407 hwy 8 w (4.92 mi)

Facebook Page: Courtesy Corner Lower Nicola

Lower Nicola BC Canada Corner Store – Merritt BC Business

 

 

Merritt Dry Cleaning & Coin Laundry

Merritt Laundry, Country Music and Storytelling.

“In all my travels criss-crossing Canada I can safely say that Christine and Joe are the most fun and entertaining laundromat hosts I have had the privilege of meeting.”

Not all laundromats are created equal and the Merritt BC laundromat I visited today not only cleaned my clothes but also welcomed me to Merritt BC Canada with history, stories and life lessons. I have had a busy, busy past 10 days, living in and out of wearing shorts, jeans and dress pants. As a result my dirty clothes pile was getting out of hand, taking over the corner of my sleeping quarters. Drastic measures needed to be implemented. I was running low on the essentials like socks, pants and you know what. What to do?

Searching For A Merritt BC Laundromat

The dirty clothes pile was taking on a life of its own and 1 washer and dryer was just not going to cut it. It would take me days to get through it all. The situation called for drastic measures and the help of laundry experts! Therefore I was left with little options. I packed up my clothes and went to a Merritt BC laundromat.

The Coolest Country Music Laundromat Ever

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Christine Taylor and Joe Astleford – the owners of the coolest country music laundromat I have ever washed and dried in. It was refreshing, as friendliness sometimes is lacking when washing clothes. However, not at this laundromat. For over 30 years this couple has serviced locals and visitors alike when they have been in need of clean clothes. On this day it was my turn.

“Christine and Joe are real fun characters of the “good people” kind,” Greg Girard 

Christine and Joe

Washers and Dryers

The Merritt BC laundromat is rumored to be the 3rd largest in British Columbia, Canada. I have no idea, but from my experience it is one of the largest I have been in during my travels across Canada. There are many washers for all sizes of loads and an equally abundant number of dryers. And… they all work! That is a rarity in laundromats, right. Also, in the back of the building, there is a service counter where people can arrange for laundry pick-up and dry cleaning services.

Merritt BC Laundromat Washers & Dryers

Merritt Attraction and Laundry

What makes this laundromat a Merritt attraction is the massive collection of country music paraphernalia. On every wall there are portraits of Canadian and international country music artists. Many of them signed by the artist themselves. If you look closely, some of the portraits have a gold star. The gold stars indicate that the country music personality has played in Merritt BC Canada at one time or another. There is said to be over 280+ portraits. You got to check out this Merritt hidden attraction. It is almost worth it to have dirty clothes when visiting and exploring in the Nicola Valley.

Country Music Artist Portraits

Country Music List for Rockin’ River Musicfest

The List – Country Music Artists

For the true country music fan there are is a list, posted in the back, of all the country music stars who have played in the Nicola Valley at the Merritt Country Music Festival and the Rockin River Music Festival. It is an impressive list. And for all of you who have grown a liking to Merritt BC Canada make sure to pick up one of the Merritt t-shirts or hats sold on site.

Meet Christine and Joe

But it is not the clean facility, the country music artists nor the amount of washers and dryers that made an impression on me during this laundry day. No, it was the conversations I had with Christine and Joe that made my day whiz on by. I appreciated that they took the time to chat with me about Merritt, its history, and why they love it here – on most days. They are only human by the way.

Encyclopedia Christine

Christine was my first conversation with the Merritt BC laundromat. She was a joy to talk to right off the bat. What a pleasant and nice women. She joked that I got her on a good day. It did not take me long to like this lady and to figure out that this women is a staunch supporter of Downtown Merritt. The conversations we had took many lefts and rights covering many topics covering a 30 year community timeline. She kept my attention so much so that when it came to putting more change in the dryer there was a substantial delay on my part.

Joe The Mechanic

Then there was Joe. A great compliment to Christine. I learned that Joe has a deep passion for family, cars, motorcycles and travel. I was fortunate enough that Joe decided to share with me his many photos of his classic car collection, and motorcycle travels. Then came the stories of where and how Joe and Christine did some road tripping throughout North America. That was when my karma peaked. The mention of road tripping is my trigger. I will talk all day with people who enjoy the art of road tripping. I ate it all up. In closing Joe shared a another photo of one of his creative moments – the time Joe built an “elevator” high-riding bicycle. That is my name for it. Have to visit and ask Joe if you want the official name.

Pride Of Ownership In The Nicola Valley

Christine and Joe are a great example of small town pride and “pride of ownership” of a local business. Their customer interaction skills are top notch. As I walked out the door, I joked with them both,

“I am going to dirty this laundry really fast so I can come back soon.”

As I walked to my jeep I said to myself, “Did I really say that? I want to do laundry soon?” In hindsight that is probably the best type of compliment one could give to a laundromat. That says everything you need to know about Christine and Joe’s Merritt BC laundromat.

Contact Laundromat:
Merritt Dry Cleaning & Coin Laundry
1926 Quilchena Ave, Merritt, BC V1K 1B8
(250) 378-2676

Hours:
Monday to Saturday: Closes at 5 PM
Sunday: Closes at 4 PM

Merritt BC Canada Laundromat and Dry Cleaning Services

Experience Nicola Valley Community Website

Your Community. Your Voice. Its Time Merritt.

Unveiling and launch party April 15, 2019

MERRITT, BC. APRIL 15, 2019 – Tourism Nicola Valley will be hosting the unveiling and red-carpet launch party for a new interactive and digital community tourism website called Experience Nicola Valley. The event will take place on April 15, 2019 at the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame . There are  appys, entertainment, door prizes and an unveiling.

The hall is located at 2025 Quilchena Avenue in Merritt BC.  Most importantly, the event is open to Nicola Valley businesses, non profits, clubs, societies, associations and events. Above all, look for your invitation in your email inbox or get one hand delivered (invitation below)

Tourism Nicola Valley presents the Experience Nicola Valley Website

Tourism Nicola Valley presents the Experience Nicola Valley Website Launch Gala

Travel Merritt BC In Real Time

The digital platforms, which are the first of their kind in Canada, is in partnership with tourism marketing consultants Greg and Colin Girard from ‘eh Canada Travel’. More over, the new Experience Nicola Valley Blog and Website platforms use state of the art technology and content writing techniques to publish in real time. In short, authentic content is created and developed by community members in the form of informational pages and blogs.

In addition, the Nicola Valley website will feature tourism related information about events, activities, restaurants, hotels, as well as, other tourist related businesses. Best yet, the new interactive website is an opportunity for local businesses, non profits, clubs, associations and events to participate too. It is an opportunity to educate, self market, as well as, generate awareness in real time.

Merritt BC Website Launch

Travelers want it now and in real time

“ Firstly, 74% of travelers plan their trips on the Internet. Secondly, 89% of millennials plan travel activities based on authentic content. Travelers of today and tomorrow research prior to visiting a destination. To clarify, they want it now and in real time”, states Greg Girard. “Most importantly, these people are looking for authentic stories and experiences from their peers. They are not looking for “corporate speak”.

Community and Technology Working Together in Merritt BC

The Experience Nicola Valley platforms create authentic content covering everything that visitors want to do in Merritt BC & the Nicola Valley including fishing, snowmobiling, mountain biking, and cultural events.

Experience Nicola Valley – New Merritt BC Website Launch

The “Experience Nicola Valley” Blogging Program hosted by “Tourism Nicola Valley” and led by the brother team of Greg and Colin Girard from “eh Canada Travel” is one of the most satisfying programs I have ever been involved with. The program commands your thoughts, inspires your hopes, as well as, creates faith in yourself and your abilities. The stories and experiences are positive, inspirational and motivating. Furthermore, the feeling of watching your blog position on the first page of searches is exhilarating. I would recommend everyone give this program a try and see for themselves.”, Melvina White (Merritt City Counselor)

Merritt BC Canada

Meet the Experience Nicola Valley Bloggers.

Proud to be working with eh Canada Travel

“Tourism Nicola Valley (TNV) is proud to be working with ehCanadaTravel in presenting this new and exciting venture for smaller communities. TNV is impressed with the quality and speed eh Canada implemented the program and with the support they have provided. The volunteer Bloggers are a huge asset to the community and we look forward to seeing them flourish further under the guidance of ehCandaTravel.” Anoop Sehon (President – Tourism Nicola Valley)

Showcases and supports local Merritt BC businesses

“We are very excited about this project and specifically how it showcases and supports local businesses here in Merritt. Tourism dollars are such a huge source of income for so many of Merritt’s business owners, but the work that Tourism Nicola Valley and Eh Canada Travel have done on building this “Experience Nicola Valley” brand is also keeping people here to shop local and renewing interest in exploring their own back yards, which is amazing.” Meagan Preston (Merritt Chamber of Commerce)

Excited about the future

“I am really excited about the future of tourism in the Merritt and the Nicola Valley area. A strong team of bloggers are writing almost daily about the many opportunities and adventures we have to offer in this area. In short, the opportunity to tell the world about our hidden gem by local residents is, to me, priceless.” Tony Luck (Merritt City Counselor)

Proud of the successes of Experience Nicola Valley

“I am very proud of the successes of Experience Nicola Valley team. They continue to share positive stories and experiences about all that is good in the Nicola Valley. Furthermore, the new interactive website is going to add to this “feel good” story,” Greg Girard (cofounder of ehCanadaTravel.com / Small and Rural Community Tourism Consultant – Top Ranked Canadian Travel Blogger).

Tourism Nicola Valley – Merritt BC Community Website

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe, Merritt, BC

“Don’t panic….we have bannock”

One of the best places to eat in Merritt is Kekuli Cafe. “Don’t panic… we have Bannock” is the official slogan of Kekuli Cafe in Merritt BC. A wonderful place to enjoy a number of indigenous foods.

Before we dive into the amazing food I’d like to treat you to a look at the amazing skor bannock. You have got to try one.

skor bannock kekuli cafe merritt bc

Ohhh so yummy Skor bannock from Kekuli Cafe

How Kekuli was born?

It all started when for many years Sharon Bond wanted to own her own restaurant. Having a passion for cooking, baking and making people feel welcome. Sharon also had a passion for helping and pleasing people.

With all the other places to eat in Merritt Sharon knew she wanted to create a place like no other. Therefore that’s exactly what she did.

The Cafe

Sharon wanted a traditional cultural aboriginal ambiance. Low light pow wow music, aboriginal art, jewelry and of course aboriginal cuisine. She wanted a place where everyone would feel welcome and acknowledged. Along with her husband Darren Hogg they created one of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe.

You definitely feel welcomed from the moment you walk in the doors of Kekuli Cafe.

The Name Kekuli.

It was quite interesting to find out where the name Kekuli came from. Sharon was looking for a unique name that would have an aboriginal flair to it. While reading a book by James Teit she came across the word “kekuli” which means house. Right away she knew that was the name and sent in paperwork to have it registered that day.

The Thompson Indians used to live in these pit house( Kekuli’s)  hundreds of years ago.  These houses are build into the ground with logs, tule, dirt and grass. They were a safe, warm and happy place. That also protected the people from the elements during harsh winters.

You can still find Kekuli’s throughout the Thompson/Okanagan areas.

Kekuli Cafe pit house bannock

Photo Credit: Kekuli Cafe

Now however you can also find that warm inviting feeling of home in every Kekuli Café.

Franchise

The next step in Sharon and Darren’s endeavor was to start creating franchises. With the first being sold in December of 2018.

On Dec 1, 2018 Elijah Mack, just 22 years old, started living his dream by becoming the very first Kekuli franchise owner.  When asked what he wanted to be in 10 years he would say “I want to be my own boss.” Now Elijah is the proud owner of one of the best places to eat in Merritt.

Kekuli Cafe franchise owner

Photo credit Kekuli Cafe

Saskatoon ice tea is wonderful and refreshing treat any time of year. I love the flavor. Makes me want another one just thinking about it. My daughters favorite it the saskatoon berry smoothie.

Kekuli Cafe saskatoon ice tea

Saskatoon berry ice tea. It was so refreshing.

They have a variety of Bannock available and some amazing lunches. Fry bread tipi tacos, grilled Bannock flatbread, bannowiches, and a variety of salads. Check out their menu here.

Lunch

Oh my goodness, look at this amazing meal. So nice to have a place where everything is made fresh with fresh ingredients.

bannock blt

BLT Bannock with cran apple feta salad

BLT bannock fresh

BLT bannock at Kekuli

This BLT bannock was so amazing. The bannock was soft and warm, lettuce and tomato were fresh and no skimping on the bacon which was cooked to perfection. Must say this was the best BLT I have had in a very long time. Along with my BLT I chose to have the cranberry, apple and feta salad. It was so crisp and fresh. Accompanying the salad was a saskatoon vinaigrette dressing made in house.  Perfect for this salad.

salad cranberry apple feta

Cranberry, apple and feta salad.

Desert I had a skor bannock. It was so fresh and I have to say better than any doughnut I have ever had. I was very tempted to buy a whole bunch of them to take home.

Happy customers

While I was visiting there were a group from White Rock who stopped in for lunch. They were extremely thrilled with the service. One lady spoke of how Kurt, chief at Kekuli Cafe, resonated such happy vibes. They really appreciated it and would come back again for sure.

Look at these happy faces.

kekuli cafe great food eat merritt

Guests from Whiterock having lunch at Kekuli in Merritt, BC

 The Staff

When you walk into Kekuli Cafe you are greeted by the amazing staff.  They always have a smile on their faces and are ready to help you any way they can.

staff kekuli cafe

Amanda and Kurt staff at Kekuli Cafe

Kekuli Cafe isn’t just on of the best places to eat in Merritt. Friday nights they have open mic night where patrons can come and express themselves over the mic. They have had people sing, tell stories or say a poem. It’s a great way to spend some time with friends, enjoy the local talent and of course have some coffee and bannock.

So far I have tried the traditional, cinnamon sugar and skor. What kinds have you tried?

Art work

Something else you will find a Kekuli Cafe is some art from a local artist Wyatt Collins. Wyatt has such a flair for life and creates some wonderful artwork which is featured on the walls of Kekuli Cafe. There are also greeting cards with Wyatt’s artwork on them.

local art merritt bc kekuli cafe

Art work by local artist Wyatt Collins

Other aboriginal products

There are a number of aboriginal items for sale at Kekuli Café. Some of them include Jams, jellies, coffee, pottery and cards. Stop in and have a look.

Kekuli Cafe Merritt BC

Some other offerings from Kekuli Cafe

If you are interested in having a blog showcasing your business please feel free to contact me at Experience Nicola Valley. I would love to chat.

One of the best places to eat in Merritt – Kekuli Cafe

Shopping local in the Nicola Valley

Sometimes easier said than done when you live in a small town.

“Shop for the experience that you get locally.”

Shopping Local. Sometimes easier said than done when you live in a small town. I think most people would rather drive down the road to get something they need instead of heading out to a larger town. This is very true for Merritt, where you have to go “up and over the mountains” on a highway to go somewhere. But if we are honest, that isn’t always an option. Especially when what we are looking for is a specialized product, or the projects we are taking on are larger, more difficult or a one off endeavor. And sometimes, we simply “need it now” and can’t wait for something to be ordered.

I was recently approached by a lady, Shirley Reynolds, is a long-time resident of Merritt who likes to shop local. She started to tell me her story about how a local business, Home Hardware, had gone above and beyond for her and asked if I could share it. It is a perfect example of why so many really try to shop local in Merritt.

This is her story:

Going Above and Beyond

Shirley Reynolds at Merritt Home Hardware

“This summer I had a project that I wanted to complete. I had some thick, plastic greenery stems that needed to be cut, and tried scissors, wire cutters etc. to no avail.

I popped down to Merritt Home Hardware near closing time, and asked if they could help me out. Larry and Dea at the service centre were up to the challenge. They tried scissors, then medium sized bolt cutters, but the stems were very thick and defied cutting. Finally, they brought out the big guns, a giant sized set of bolt cutters.

When they used this tool, the stems went flying. Luckily, the store had closed and no one was in the line of fire. They happily finished the task until success was achieved, even though their work day had technically ended. On top of that, they didn’t even charge me for the use of the tools!

 

Awesome Merritt Home Hardware Staff

Great service and helpful advice is what I have experienced and received over and over again from the staff at our local hardware store. You can be sure that I will continue to give them my business. If you are new to town, shop local, give them a try, you won’t be disappointed!”

The truth is, that was one of the first things I noticed even before I moved to Merritt.

Going the Extra Mile

My shop local story is a little different. I drove up to see my parents for a few days when I lived at the Coast. My parents live off the beaten path 15 minutes outside town and 5 kms up a very well maintained gravel road on top of a local mountain. When I pulled up the garage and got out of my car I noticed a loud hissing, and looked down to see one of my front tires rapidly losing air. I had driven over a large sharp piece of shale which had punctured my tire. Darn!

Knowing I only had a small donut spare, I pulled the tire off, put it in my parents truck and my Mom and I headed for town. There is a Kal Tire just as you come in to town, so we proceeded to head there in hopes they could fix it. It was getting late in the day and close to closing time, but I arrived and explained I was from the Coast and had to head home the next day. The gentleman behind the counter quickly said “no problem, come back in 15 minutes”!

A Quick Fix

We left, only to return 15 minutes later to a fully repaired tire ready to go. I pulled out my wallet to pay but was quickly told “no charge, have a safe trip home”. I could only reply “what??” followed by “are you sure”? These people didn’t know me, and I had disclosed I was from the Coast. Shouldn’t they be charging me through the nose for my bad luck? Apparently not, the man smiled and told me to tell my parents to come in if they needed anything in the future. My parents reply was “yep, we will be back” and they were, again and again, they too choose to shop local.

I never forgot that day. And of course, when you have a good experience you tell everyone who will listen. Not only did I tell everyone at home, but my parents happily spread the word in Merritt. Even when I moved here 5 years ago (and probably 15 years after this experience) I remembered the kindness I experienced that day. Although I am sure staff has changed many times in the last 15+ years, my perception of the business never did.

There’s No Place Like Home

These two experiences, while different, are what shopping local are about. I am constantly reminding people that even the large franchises here are owned by families, not just the small businesses downtown. The fact is that often the vast majority of businesses here in Merritt, are owned by the person next door. The parent you see at hockey, the kid who plays with yours, people on the PTA, the people you curl with, etc. When you support local, you support people in your community who just happen to have businesses that add to your life conveniences.

I encourage everyone, to consider where you shop. Support your neighbors. Allow local business the opportunity to price match. Consider the gas and time to shop elsewhere, is it really cheaper? What if you were a business owner? But more than that, shop for the experience that you get locally.

 

Businesses in Merritt

Interview with Diane Lavoie – D&D Emporium

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

There are some really unique businesses in Merritt. D&D Emporium is definitely one of them. Walking into the shop is an adventure – your eyes are roaming everywhere and there are treasures everywhere! As they say “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”!

I took this opportunity to find out more about the shop and it’s owner Diane Lavoie.

Businesses in Merritt

Diane and one of her little treasures

When did you come to Merritt?

“I came to Merritt in 2006.”

Where did you come from?

“From Burnaby were I have lived all my life.”

Why did you come to Merritt?

“I wanted to experience life in a small town – completely away from an urban centre where I grew up and lived all my life. 60 years I spent there.”

What inspired you to open a business?

“I wanted to live in Merritt and I soon realized that if I liquidated all my assets I still needed to work. The problem with that was there were no jobs in the field that I worked. So I took a good look around and consulted with Community Futures, the City and the Chamber of Commerce and I found that one of the things I liked to do most was haunting second stores. And that Merritt had no second hand stores. So it hit me there was my niche. I opened up a second hand store.”

Why did you want to open a second hand store?

“I choice a second hand store because I hate seeing things go to the dump that are perfectly good. Refurbishing, repurposing and repainting can transform an object from a throw away to a precious keeper. From an old lady’s wardrobe a young persons delight, with just a coat of paint.”

Businesses in Merritt

D&D Emporium Merritt BC

What do you like most about running your store?

“I enjoy the people that come in. They are so interesting and creative. It is nice to hear their ideas. It makes it fun for me.”

What do you like about Merritt?

“Pretty much everything. The people are great. I was very surprised when I came here that people help you without being asked and I was at first taken aback. The friendliness of the people totally changed my street behaviour. In a city you don’t look at the people coming towards you – it is considered rude and intrusive. In Merritt it is the opposite – if you don’t look at people you might be snubbing somebody. I would never go back to live on the coast. The people are great and I have made a lot of friends here. Besides, the weather and the climate suite my old bones –nothing aches.””

What are your future plans?

“I plan to continue with the blogging for Experience Nicola Valley. Something I enjoy and that I can be useful doing. And sometime during this year I may consider sharing the store – to give someone the opportunity to set up on a small scale.”

What are your hobbies?

“What I am into right now is writing. I am currently working on short stories that I want to publish. Also art –watercolour and drawing which I learned here in Merritt. I plan to continue with that.”

Businesses in Merritt BC

One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.

About D&D Emporium

If you are looking for a bit of whimsy this is the place to find it! This store has things from the past and ideas on how to use them. Lamps of uncertain vintage, both sophisticated and cute, pictures old and new and even used books all have a place here. Look carefully. There is something tucked away in every hole and corner!

Visit D & D Emporium at 2070 Quilchena Ave. in downtown Merritt!

Businesses in Merritt