The former Chemainus Foods building in downtown Chemainus will soon be getting new life.
Chemainus Foods closed three and a half years ago after nearly three decades in operation, and now a new business venture is finally in the works for the building that’s been vacant ever since.
Laurie Douglas, formerly of 49th Parallel Grocery, announced on Facebook she’s been chosen as the manager by investors of an up-and-coming market at the site that will also include a fish and chip outlet and other outlets to be announced later.
The projected opening date is sometime in October.
“I’ll be looking after vendors and the events, things like that,” said Douglas.
“We’re trying to create a buzz and get vendors interested. Really, the sky’s the limit. There can be touristy kinds of things, but we also want to appeal to the locals.”
Flexibility is the key word, says Douglas. With almost 12,000 square feet of space, there is plenty of room to create studio or gallery space, permanent retail shops or even offices. And there will be a meeting room that can be used for business gatherings or community meetings.
Certain plans are already in the works, but the important thing for now, she added, is to involve the community and hear feedback. Douglas indicated there are also many opportunities from setting up a table to market goods or even employment in the fall for the fish and chip place or other aspects of the business.
The word “market” brings up all sorts of thoughts about what’s intended, but Douglas said it won’t be anything like a flea market.
Rather, there will be stalls available for short or long term leasing.
“We’ll definitely be open to their needs,” said Douglas.
Spaces will typically be 10-feet by 10-feet or possibly 10-feet by 15-feet, as required by the vendors.
“Not just goods, but services,” Douglas added. “Things people can use.”
There’s already a few vendors interested, she indicated. One local person is hoping to offer shoulder massages and local artists and artisans are asking about space.
“I want to make it fun and interactive,” stressed Douglas. “I want to make it like a hub for the town.”
Opening times are already considered important to her because of the many comments that come from tourists about business closures around Chemainus, particularly on Mondays.
“We will definitely be open for the Mondays,” emphasized Douglas. “We’re going to be open later, for sure. We’re definitely not going to be closing at five o’clock.
“We are going to be open year round. We’re hoping to get some interest from different groups – any kind of group.
“We’ll gauge the seasons as they come. Definitely, that’s a huge thing. We’re trying to enhance the other businesses. Having a market, it brings other people into town — something that’s new and interesting.”
Expanding the appeal of Chemainus that already sees tens of thousands of people coming for the murals and the theatre is part of the mandate.
The project has been in the making for a few months and “I’ve been doing a lot of research on different markets,” Douglas said.
There’s lots more legwork to be done and building renovations will have to be conducted before the market and fish and chip shop come to fruition.
“Once we know a little bit more and even during the renovations, I would like to hold an open house for potential vendors so they can visualize how it’s going to work for them,” Douglas said.
Selecting a name for the market is also going to be an important part of the process and Douglas insists it should have ‘Chemainus’ in the title rather than Little Town or Mural Town.
Engagement with the public is being conducted on the Facebook page, A Chemainus Project. Douglas said more details will be revealed in the next few weeks.