– Words by Sean McIntyre Photography by Don Denton
If there was any doubt On the prospects for good old-fashioned brick and mortar stores in a world that’s not quite post-pandemic, just take a look at Nanaimo’s emerging OCQ.
The Old City Quarter’s specialty boutiques, community services, innovative restaurants and cozy cafes have breathed new life into the heart of downtown Nanaimo, making it a must-see for travelers passing through and a worthy destination for day trippers coming from across Vancouver Island. come and the lower mainland.
“We believe that having places where people can walk, get coffee, have lunch, do errands, sit in the park and walk into stores is hugely important to our everyday happiness,” said business owner Sara Edge, who opened the Hoxton Home in the neighborhood. with husband Daniel Martin last April. “The old town district of Nanaimo has an independent spirit that we wanted to be a part of. It has a growing number of like-minded people who want to shape the city they want to live in.”
The young couple is part of the recent wave of energetic, inspired and entrepreneurial migrants to Vancouver Island, shaping the rapidly changing region. Attracted by the island lifestyle, these newcomers seek to foster community and business development while promoting respect for integral human values.
That’s why Sara and Daniel take great care to ensure that the stylish and functional home and personal accessories found in their store are made with social and environmental impact in mind. Whether it’s a solid, untreated oak dining table or a 100 percent European milled linen beach towel, the couple aims to offer shoppers the same timeless, non-disposable products they choose at home.
“We want products to be both beautiful and useful,” Sara says. “In our modern society we find that we often get stuck in routines and tend to miss the beauty the moment we find ourselves. We believe that by living with intention and surrounding ourselves with objects that reflect that, we become more out of everyday experience.”
The new store combines a clean and unhurried aesthetic with elements of character embodied by the neighborhood’s heritage elements. The minimalist design is shared by many of the products found in the store and features prominently in the design of the company’s website.
The choice to proceed with a hybrid storefront-online business model arose from Sara and Daniel’s desire to recognize the importance of personal relationships in community building, while emphasizing the economic importance of forging an online presence in today’s retail world. .
Hoxton Home takes its name from a hip East London neighborhood known for its independent boutiques and restaurants, as well as a vibrant bohemian art scene. Like the OCQ itself, Hoxton represents the potential of what is possible in a post-industrial urban landscape. The couple regularly travels to London for visits with Sara’s family. It is during those trips that they form the vision that helps them reshape Nanaimo’s retail landscape.
“Part of the original inspiration for opening Hoxton Home is the fact that most of the shopping areas in Nanaimo are off the highway and are primarily large retail chain stores for businesses,” says Daniel. “We were definitely more attracted to a neighborhood feel.”
That neighborhood feel is a big part of why Sara and Daniel moved to Nanaimo from Vancouver about two years ago. Daniel, who spent many summers of his childhood on the island, says time on this side of the Salish Sea played a big part in shaping his perspective and attitude.
“We always knew we wanted to move here eventually,” Sara says. “COVID has certainly accelerated the move.”
As anyone who has made the switch can certainly attest, the transition had its challenges. The couple admits there is some adjustment to daily routines without having all the comforts and options of living in a bigger city. Sara and Daniel spent two years building a small loft space not far from the store and gradually shifted their focus from the lights of the big city to quiet island nights.
“The island creates more balance and we are so grateful for that,” says Sara. “Every day we wake up and look out our window at the ocean, we walk the many beautiful trails with our dog, we are less than five minutes to the beach access, where we often swim. Dan cooks great dinners that we enjoy on our terrace, and we spend a lot of time with family.
“The island has so much to offer in terms of wildlife,” Sara says. “We’re learning new ways to embrace that side of ourselves.”
Visit hoxtonhome.com or visit the store in person at 437 Fitzwilliam Street in Nanaimo. Be sure to visit oldcityquarter.com for additional information and a list of upcoming events in Nanaimo’s OCQ.
Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication
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