Products people want, an owner with a solid marketing/business education background, enthusiasm and a great location have added up to a good first two years of operation for Saheli Boutique in downtown Parksville.
Gurdeep Nagra, who owns the business with her husband Dale, spent two years at a private college in Surrey studying fashion design and merchandizing, before taking business courses at what’s now called Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.
Still, it’s a simple passion that seems to drive Gurdeep.
“I enjoy dressing people, even if they bring their own outfits and want to match jewelry,” said Gurdeep. “It’s fun.”
A few years ago, Gurdeep was managing Dale’s gym.
“We started to bring in handbags, jewelry and scarfs and it just took off.”
Saheli — which means girlfriend in Punjabi — started in a small space in the gym and has been at its downtown location on Alberni Highway since February, 2012. The store has three employees (including Gurdeep) and features handbags, jewelry, scarfs, home decor and, most recently, a large selection of clothing.
“This is a such a great location,” she says of the spot that can be seen from many vantage points, not only on the Alberni Highway but also from Craig Street one block east. “It’s front and centre and because of the way Parksville is designed, we get a lot of tourists right in this area.”
Gurdeep recently joined the board of directors for the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce and she said she’s excited about what’s going on, and what could be coming, business-wise in the downtown core and the city as a whole.
“It (joining the chamber board) kind of gives you a different perspective of the town, how we can all work together and make Parksville great,” she said. “I like the new shops that are popping up. I like the diversity and we work together — we send people to other shops too.”
Gurdeep has played an active role in events downtown like Ladies Night and Moonlight Madness, to go along with some fundraising efforts for various charitable organizations.
“I believe in endless possibilities,” she said. “If you are passionate about what you do you create opportunities. You have to do things to bring people in, but having that marketing background, that schooling, is huge.”
Her customers seem to appreciate her enthusiasm and expertise, too. This from a review by a Slat Spring Island resident on yelp.ca:
“Looking for gifts that are alluring and unique, small decor items to create interest in your home, fashion accessories to liven up your look? Here’s an emporium to meander through . . . good selection of inventory to choose from, and in all pricings . . . if you are looking for something special for that special someone, and you’re in Parksville, then check out Saheli Boutique.”
The Saheli Boutique is located at 124 Alberni Highway in Parksville and the phone number is 250-586-2228.