Nicole Vanwyk of Zolena Boutique describes the reversible wrap skirts, some of the many fabric and gift items at the store’s new location in Coombs Thursday, March 29, 2018. — J.R. Rardon photo

Expanded space means expanded product line for Coombs boutique

Zolena Boutique and Gift Shop finds new home in Old Country Market

Thanks to a new, expanded space, Zolena Boutique and Gift Shop is sharing a new, expanded line of products as part of Coombs Country Market.

After a decade of a nomadic existence in buildings in and around the main market, known for the Goats on the Roof attraction, Zolena Boutique has settled into three recently constructed buildings.

“We’ve always carried international textiles; that was a huge focus for us,” said Zoye Geekie, who co-founded Zolena with her mother, Lene Geekie. “What we’ve done now with the increased space is, we’re starting to take on more local retail suppliers.

“That’s been a change, and we’ve been able to do that with more space.”

Zolena has already populated two of the buildings, which have been nominated for the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s Commercial Building Awards for 2017 (see related story on page A9).

The third, located between the other two shops, will soon be selling plants, planters and assorted garden accessories.

The properties represent the second phase of an expansion project that earned Billy Gruff’s Creamery a 2016 VIREB builder’s award.

“It’s awesome,” said Nicole Vanwyk, who has worked for Coombs Country Market for five years and who is entering her fourth year with Zolena.

“It’s nice having a big, open area for displays, obviously, and with having all our colours in here, having a white building suits that.”

In her first year with the boutique, Vanwyk said, it was located in a house behind the produce market. Then Zolena moved into the small A-Frame building when Billy Gruff moved its ice cream shop into its new space two years ago.

Coombs Country Market opened in 1971 and remains a family business run by Larry and Lene Geekie. Nearly two decades ago, said Zoye, she and her mother were intrigued on an overseas trip by handmade cotton textiles created in India.

They began importing block-printed textiles — a form that uses a carved block of wood dipped in ink to impress patterns on fabric — and 10 years ago chose to create Zolena Boutique and Gift Shop as its own business.

“My mom and I travelled quite a bit, and we wanted to bring items in that were just a little bit different,” said Zoye. “We go directly to where things are being made and we have longstanding, wonderful business relationships.”

The block-printed textiles include tablecloths, placemats, napkins, table runners and pillows. Eventually, the two began to import clothing items, including reversable wrap skirts and blouses, as well as vintage bags and smaller Papaya accessory bags.

Zolena also carries rag rugs handmade by Indian farmers from recycled cotton materials.

“The farmers make them in their off-season, to supplement their income,” said Zoye. “It’s all recyled, so it’s very environmentally progressive.”

Along with the imported textiles that gave the business its start, Zolena’s now carries products from Salt Spring Soap Works; local silver jewelry artisan Emily Ferris; and a new makeup line it is testing out from a Victoria-based company that uses vegan, non-toxic and cruelty-free ingredients, said Vanwyk.

“We’re starting to convert over to bringing in more local products,” she said. “We’re still going to have the textiles, but will have more of a local option for tourists.”

Zolena Boutique is located at 2326 Alberni Hwy. in Coombs. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday. For info, call 250-248-6272 or visit online at www.oldcountrymarket.com.

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