After 21 years of success, What’s Cooking is having its best year ever.
Patrick Simpson, who opened the Qualicum Beach shop with his wife Vickie Sissons in 1994, said their model is to “provide high quality items and prices that still make sense.”
The goal was always a “true kitchen shop,” or the ‘store for cooks’ as their cards say, rather than just a gift shop.
“As one client put it, we sell good products and stand behind them with knowledge,” he said.
“A lot of stores don’t have these kind of products and we like to give advice on (for example) wooden spoons — it’s not just the complicated stuff.”
Simpson said that as a culture in general these days “we’re starved as customers for knowledge and service,” and they pride themselves on providing high end service.
The couple first discovered Qualicum Beach when they helped his father move to retire here. He said they loved the place and started talking about moving here, almost as a joke at first.
With a three year old and another on the way, they figured it would be a great place to raise a family and with a love of cooking, they’d dreamt of opening a specialty kitchen store.
They both had high stress jobs in Vancouver, Simpson working for an insurance company. Within seven months of that first visit here, they sold their house, moved to the Island, opened the store and have been active community members ever since.
They are involved with the QB Downtown Merchants Association and their sons Trevor and Adam are Kwalikum Secondary grads, on to further education at UBC and VIU respectively.
“Qualicum Beach is a great place to get involved, there’s no big line up to get into hockey or whatever organization,” he said touting the vibrant service groups in the area like Rotary and the Legion.
Simpson also feels his positive sense of community is part of their success.
“You hear a lot of negativity, but enthusiasm and attitude drives everything,” he said of the current business climate. “Enthusiasm creates activity.”
“I still get excited about flippers, or the latest gadget,” he said. “People ask what’s the cool new thing and I get to show them this great garlic press.”
And that’s part of why he thinks business is still increasing after 21 years. Sales were solid in the usually slow first four months of the year, he said. June and July set new monthly records, August was close and September is still going strong.
The little gourmet store continues to sell the latest gadgets along with a wide range of everything for the kitchen.
Check them out at 177 W. Second Avenue.