Judy Stafford, Nathan Harben and Kristie Erickson of Cowichan Green Community. The organization is sponsoring a new category at the Black Tie Awards this year. (submitted)

Judy Stafford, Nathan Harben and Kristie Erickson of Cowichan Green Community. The organization is sponsoring a new category at the Black Tie Awards this year. (submitted)

Business notes: Retro game hangout opening in Duncan

Emily Lavender loves playing games.

And her new business venture promises to give Lavender an opportunity to share her passion for board games and video games with the community.

“Growing up in Duncan, my favourite things were playing Super Mario World with friends, boardgame nights with my family, and ’80s dance parties in my parents’ basement,” says Lavender.

The young entrepreneur is in the process of setting up The Fort, at 60 Queens Rd. in Duncan. The business will open on Feb. 1 with 30 board games, seven different video game consoles, ping pong and foosball.

“I wanted to create a space that combines all my favourite things and where people can come together to have fun and connect,” explains Lavender.

The phenomenon of playing board game in a public setting has been sweeping North America, perhaps inspired by a retro desire to go back to simpler and more social times.

Lavender has been hosting ’80s and ’90s nights every other month in Victoria for the past two years just for fun, but decided to make her dream of opening a retro hangout space a reality.

“I wanted to come back to Duncan because it has such a sense of community, including its love and support for small businesses,” she says.

“Also, as someone who grew up here, and sometimes searching for something to do after school, there’s room to open another place to go and have fun.”

Lavender says the space is for anyone that likes to play games and will be a venue for a great date night, family games night, or friend hangout idea. It’s geared for teens and adults.

There will be a $6 entry to use the space, and will include a complementary Polaroid photo, a further connection. Soft drinks and snacks will be available for purchase.

The Fort will be open Wednesdays to Sundays from 2 p.m. until 9 p.m. More information can be found on social media on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/thefortduncan/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/thefortduncan).

Private bookings will be available outside of open hours for things like birthdays and staff parties.

• • •

It’s not every day that a business turns down an opportunity to win a prestigious Black Tie Award.

But that’s exactly what happened recently when Cowichan Green Community graciously stepped aside after being nominated in a new category.

The new award category for the upcoming Black Tie Awards recognizes a non-profit society or charitable organization for outstanding contributions to the community, demonstrating innovation, engagement and impact through their projects, programs and services.

With one of the highest number of non-profit organizations per capita in B.C., Cowichan is home to countless candidates worthy of the honour, and the Chamber of Commerce has been receiving a steady stream of public nominations to prove it.

“It came as no surprise that among the first submissions was a nomination for the Cowichan Green Community, an organization with a 16-year history of advocating for environmental sustainability and improved food security in the Cowichan region,” suggests Alec Wheeler, events and membership manager for the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.

No stranger to the Black Tie Awards stage, Cowichan Green Community was the recipient of the Green Business Award in 2016.

However, in a surprise move, the organization declined the nomination, instead choosing to ‘pay it forward’ by sponsoring the award category.

“Winning the Green Business Award in 2016 was a tremendous honour and, of course, we were thrilled to be nominated again this year in the new non-profit category. But when we found out the Chamber was looking for award sponsors, we decided we wanted to help” says Executive Director Judy Stafford.

“We offered to have our nomination pulled in favour of sponsoring the award so our hard-working peers from other deserving organizations could reap the rewards we enjoyed from our nomination in 2016.

“We’re so excited for the opportunity, we look forward to hearing about all the amazing nominations, and we can’t wait to help pick this year’s inaugural winner!”

The Black Tie Awards will be held at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on the evening of Friday, April 17. Tickets will go on sale in March.

Nominations for the nine Black Tie Award categories will remain open until midnight on Jan. 31, 2020. Visit www.blacktieawards.com to submit a nomination.

• • •

Adjudication for the 20th Annual Grant Thornton LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards is underway as they pore over nomination information from 80 finalist businesses across the Island for the annual celebration of the best of the best in Island business.

A number of Cowichan Valley businesses are finalists for awards.

Grant Thornton LLP is the Title Sponsor of the Awards, and along with Gold Sponsor RBC Royal Bank and Business Examiner, will host a morning-after “Breakfast For Champions” business round table for winners of the event’s 17 categories.

Black Press is a Platinum Medium Sponsor of the BE Awards this year, set for Jan. 30 at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria.

Finalists include:

Chemainus: Bound To Be Different, The Wildwood Collective.

Cobble Hill: Creative Woodcraft.

Duncan: Cowichan Auto Repair, Mustimuhw Information Solutions, Alderlea Farm and Café, Resthouse Sleep Solutions Ltd., Farmer Ben’s Eggs/Running W Egg Farm.

For more information on the event call 1-866-758-2684 ext. 120 or email: mark@businessexaminer.ca

To book tickets ($125 each), visit www.businessexaminer.ca/events.