Arlene Vandenhoven is excited to see more and more customers come into her shop, Swordfern Boutique, on South Shore Road, as Christmas approaches.
Swordfern Boutique, which is in its second year of operation in Lake Cowichan, is an eco-friendly shop dealing in locally produced apparel, jewelry and gifts that reflect the spirit of the West Coast lifestyle.
Vandenhoven said the Christmas shopping season started slowly for her, likely the result of a more depressed economy this year due to troubles in forestry and other issues, but she’s seen a big increase in business over the last week.
“I’m finding people like to buy local, and I carry a lot of local merchandise,” she said.
“I’m selling a lot of clothing from Canadian-owned companies, as well as stocking stuffers like bath and cooking salts from Saltwest Naturals Inc. from Sooke and another company in Nanaimo. I’ve got something for pretty much anyone.”
Vandenhoven said Swordfern Boutique, as well as many other businesses in the area, lost almost a full week of sales just before Christmas last year when the windstorm struck.
“There’s no big storms in the forecast during the next week, so I don’t think that will happen again this year,” she said.
“I’m happy to be part of the Lake Cowichan community and proud to support local businesses, artists and other producers. Tourism is big in the summer around here, but local businesses rely on local sales at this time of year. It’s very important.”
Lake Cowichan’s Country Grocer has ordered more turkeys for Christmas.
The store also has a wide selection of Christmas trees for its customers to choose from as the festive season heats up.
Store spokeswoman Jo-Anne Pimlott said the Christmas spirit is strong in the community, and Country Grocer has joined in.
She said the store was pleased to have the Lake Cowichan fire department’s annual food and toy drive, in support of the Cowichan Lake Community Services’ Christmas hampers, last weekend in the store’s parking lot.
“The fire department used to host these events at its station, but our store’s central location in the community was chosen as a better place for their event and we were more than happy to help out,” Pimlott said.
Pimlott said Country Grocer also assisted with Palsson Elementary School’s Winter Feast on Dec. 13, which features turkey dinners.
Lake Cowichan’s Home Hardware store is beautifully decorated for the festive season, and manager Doug Fast said the business has a wide variety of sales to entice people through the doors during the Christmas shopping season.
They include power tools, small appliances and much more.
“Of course, Christmas trees are a big seller in the lead up to Christmas,” he said.
“We’ll also be holding Boxing Day sales.”
Lake Cowichan Home Centre’s Dennise Eddy said the store is having a bump in business as people get to their long-delayed home projects, like bathroom renovations, before family members arrive for Christmas.
Eddy said the store will be helping out with this week’s food hamper drive at the Community Services building.
“We usually donate a forklift to move the food around at that annual event, as well as some staff time to drive it and help out,” she said. “We like to do our part at this time of the year.”
Healthy treats for pets is the big seller during the Christmas season at the Cowichan Pet Emporium on Cowichan Lake Road.
Spokesman Jay de Goesbriand said clothing for dogs and cats is also popular at the store, but most of the shopping for those items was taken care of at the beginning of the rainy season weeks ago.
“Our business is pretty steady throughout the year, but we love to see more people come in during this time of year,” he said.