After a decade in business, the face behind Faye’s Gifts is retiring from the quaint Qualicum Beach storefront nestled along the town’s iconic Second Avenue.
“It’s not without a lot of emotion that I’ve come to this decision,” a teary eyed Faye McKnight told The NEWS last week.
“I’ve loved every minute of it,” she said. “It’s been a fun ride.”
McKnight opened Faye’s Gifts in September of 2005, transitioning a space that was once a flower shop into a gift shop.
She kept some of the floral accents, but eventually took the store in a different direction.
“The store has evolved over the years,” she recalled. “We’ve added lines and taken some away.”
McKnight describes the store as “eclectic and unique” with many made-in-Canada items, something she’s sought out over many years in business.
“A lot of people say it’s the perfect gift shop,” she said proudly. “I cater to the little old lady who wants to spend $20 to those who are looking to spend $220.”
Given the older demographic of Qualicum Beach, McKnight said a lot of the people who come into the store already have everything they need — so it’s her job to seek out, for her clientele, things they want.
Faye’s Gifts serves locals and tourists alike, offering a wide variety of items from plush baby clothes to vogue scarves to the artful Pandora line.
“I really want to extend a big thank-you to my loyal customers because I have a lot of them,” McKnight said holding back tears of gratitude.
McKnight said her “tight-knit” staff have become her family, noting Fiona, Connie and of course her daughter Katherine, who have made the last 10 years incredibly enjoyable; along with her business partner and loving husband, Harry.
Before Faye’s Gifts, McKnight had another business venture in town: she and Harry opened Bailey’s In The Village, operating the neighbourhood coffee shop from 1998 to 2003.
In 2011 she was instrumental in getting the Qualicum Beach Downtown Business Association (DBA) off the ground.
“Faye was the first chairperson,” recalled Tom Pope, a longtime friend, fellow founding member and business merchant who owns Mulberry Bush Book Store. “And her interest while she was chair was much greater than of her own business… she cares about how other businesses are doing.”
Since then, the DBA has flourished and now has 65 members.
“Faye really played a key role in making the DBA what it is today,” said current chair Lilo Kallai, owner of Fresh and Fabulous Flowers and Gifts. “Without all her legwork and working with the town it just wouldn’t have happened — we owe her a lot.”
Pope said he’s going to miss working alongside McKnight.
“Faye’s a caring person with a broad range of interests particularly for Qualicum Beach, and not just the businesses, but the people,” said Pope. “She has a lot of integrity and honesty and that shines through and you think about her involvement in the community, the idea that it’s more than just her business, it’s about more than just making money, her heart is really in the community.”
Moreover, she’s been a longtime member of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce.
“Faye has been an integral part of the business community,” said Chamber CEO Evelyn Clark. “She is a successful business person who is also a business leader and friend to Qualicum Beach.”
Clark has worked alongside McKnight for many years.
“Faye was a founder and chair of the DBA and she always wanted, while supporting the vision and aims of the downtown merchants, to work closely with the chamber to make both organizations collaborative and successful,” said Clark.
“Faye will be missed by me personally and by the business people of Qualicum Beach.”
McKnight admits it will be a tough transition into retirement and she’ll miss the store, her clients, and fellow business owners — however, she is looking forward to spending time with her four grandchildren, doing yoga, hiking and volunteering in Qualicum Beach.
Faye’s Gifts is located at 142 Second Avenue West and a store-wide closeout sale started May 1. McKnight said it is undetermined what date the store will close its doors for good — stop in to say goodbye.