Back again on Vancouver Island. Starting to feel like my home away from home as we ramp up our expansion. One of the favourite places for our family is Parksville, and we rent a beach house every year for at least a week or more. We have been coming to the Island for many years and although this year was going to be a mix of work and family for me, it was a great home base for me to take care of business in Nanaimo and Victoria.
One great spot we visit on a regular basis while here is a tiny town called Coombs. Here's a link to a great story in the Victoria Times. In particular there is The Old Country Market, famous for Goats on their Roof!
Yup, goats. It's a Scandinavian tradition to to let them "mow" the grass on your roof. Yup, grass… anyway, you get the idea that this is a special place.
I really drink up the way they have marketed in such eclectic and unique ways. I always take away a few good ideas and a ton of inspiration on how I can apply the marketing to Costless Express. It's a real lesson in how to successfully brand a business and give customers a shopping "experience."
One trick they have up their sleeve is that there is no zoning regulations on their property, so they have been able to create what I can only describe as a mini main street (a la Disney) where each storefront seems to be a different business, yet they are actually all run as a group, with family running different stores. There is the main market with exotic foods, the very popular ice cream stand (one scoop is HUGE!!), a deli, cafeteria, fruit and veg stand, a garden center with lots of statues and bamboo items, a massive building filled with replica Far East inspired furniture (Sandy's favourite!) and a very cool surf shop Wabi Sabi (my favourite). All this and more on one property, and the crowds just keep coming back time and again. No matter what day of the week, the place is packed. (Tip: park way at the back of the property, not on the road or in the first few crowded lots.)
If you have kids, then you must stop to pick up some of the coolest toys found anywhere. The prices are cheap and granted the products can be kind of cheap too, but the kids don't seem to mind (most toys are destroyed before the trip is over, at least my kids', when they are on holidays with up to 6-7 cousins - all under 7yrs). This year I felt like a bad parent, since we bought our two boys wooden swords and shields at the market. It was not something I thought we would ever buy, but when the other cousins' parents (thanks Grace and Richard) bought swords and shields, I had to arm my kids out of defense. Any parent would have done the same, don't you think? Anyway, all the swords spent most of the time confiscated and hidden on the top shelf of the coat closet, but when all the kids "played nice," it was a treat to watch them role play, and we took some great pictures.
Check out Coombs if you haven't been already.