For the second consecutive year, Elly Ruge’s Cowichan Auto Repair has been named the top business in the automotive category at the Grant Thornton LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

For the second consecutive year, Elly Ruge’s Cowichan Auto Repair has been named the top business in the automotive category at the Grant Thornton LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Business notes: Embellish Home Decor closing its doors in Duncan

Owner says she’s looking forward to retirement

Lesley Zurrer is calling it a day after 15 years in business in downtown Duncan.

But, if things fall into place, the owner of Embellish Home Decor may be pursuing a new calling, this time calling out bids as an auctioneer.

“I’m hoping to take the auctioneering course that is offered by Auctioneering College of Canada in Edmonton,” Zurrer said as she prepared for the closeout of her popular Kenneth Street Store.

Her plan is to do some pop-up auctions or estate sales once she has completed the course. Meanwhile, she’s getting ready to try her hand at auctioneering with an auction at Embellish on Thursday, Feb. 20. It will be the final clearance for inventory that remains in the store after the clearout sale that is ongoing.

Zurrer says she’s looking forward to retirement, a new phase in her life that already promises to be busy.

“I’m so looking forward to the unknown, enjoying having some time that belongs to me.”

As well as taking the auctioneering course, Zurrer says her time will be filled with preparing for two family weddings in the coming year.

Embellish was a labour of love for Zurrer who says she’s “been a collector forever” and learned about the business as co-owner of a furniture company.

“I love furniture collecting. It’s always been the thrill of the hunt and it’s been a passion for me.

“Opening the business was something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Zurrer attended auctions and other sales events in search of items that could be restored or otherwise turned into eclectic, interesting pieces of home décor. Embellish also sold art, jewelry and treasures from Zurrer’s private collection.

Embellish will close at the end of the month and Excellent Frameworks Home of the E.J. Hughes Gallery will be moving in. Excellent Frameworks is currently located on Station Street.

Operating a small business is “pretty much all or nothing” Zurrer suggests, noting the commitment was huge but worthwhile as the downtown core of Duncan flourished in the last few years.

“Duncan has grown and blossomed into such a vibrant, eclectic collection of small businesses and become a shopping destination for people from Victoria, Nanaimo and the Gulf Islands,” she says.

“It’s been my life for 15 years, I’ve loved it and now I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life.”

• • •

Elly Ruge, owner of Cowichan Auto Repair, has added another honour to her list.

Cowichan Auto Repair of Duncan was the winner in the automotive category at the 20th Annual Grant Thornton LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards Jan. 31 at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort.

It’s the second consecutive year that Ruge and her team from Cowichan Auto Repair have taken home the prestigious award.

The business, located at 5275 Chaster Rd. in Duncan, also won the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s Black Tie Award for Customer Service in 2017.

VMAC Global Technology Inc. of Nanaimo was named Business of the Year and Nickel Bros. House Moving of Nanaimo was named Small Business of the Year at the event, which featured 79 finalists competing in 17 categories in the annual celebration of the best of the best in Island business.

Grant Thornton LLP is the Title Sponsor of the Awards, along with Gold Sponsor RBC Royal Bank and Business Examiner, which coordinated the event. Category sponsors included Coastal Community Credit Union, Invest Comox Valley and HeliJet, as well as Platinum Media Sponsor Black Press.

Category winners are:

• Automotive: Cowichan Auto Repair of Duncan.

• Beverage: White Sails Brewing of Nanaimo.

• Construction/Development: Island West Coast Developments of Nanaimo.

• Entrepreneur Of The Year: Stonehouse Teas of Campbell River.

• Food & Food Production: Fatso Peanut Butter of Victoria.

• Technology: Abeego of Victoria.

• Health Care: Comfort Keepers of Victoria.

• Hospitality: Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa of the Comox Valley.

• Manufactured Wood Products: San Group of Port Alberni.

• Manufacturing: SCS Steel Container Systems of Nanaimo.

• Ocean Products: CascaVdia Seaweed of Victoria and Port Alberni.

• Professional: R. Anderson & Associates of Port Alberni.

• Retail: Oui Jewellery of Victoria.

• Tourism: Campbell River Whale Watching of Campbell River.

• Trades: BMT Group Services of Sidney.

• • •

Chemainus author and book buff Tom Masters sent along a note about an opportunity for Cowichan Valley authors.

“Writers with books to sell may be interested in a new bookstore in the soon-to-open Chemainus Public Market,” suggests Masters.

“Authors with books available for sale will have an opportunity to offer their work seven days a week, year round, at an outlet in the new indoor market.”

Masters is inviting authors to the founding meeting of a group of like-minded people on Sunday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m. in the meeting room of the newly opened Chemainus Public Library, 9796 Willow St., in Chemainus. It’s where the old fire hall used to stand.

“The Cowichan Valley is blessed with a wealth of authorial talent, often looking for opportunity to sell directly to our resident public as well as the tourist trade,” Masters says.

The meeting will be an information session for everyone interested in this innovative venture and will include a tour of the newly renovated market building located in the former Chemainus Foods building on Willow Street across from Waterwheel Park.

For further information, call Tom Masters at 250-732-2162 or email

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