BUSINESS BEAT: Compact Victoria shop has unique designs, typewriter rentals

Market Square hallway the home to creative storefront

Rebecca Dolen

Stepping into the lobby of the Milne building at 560 Johnson St., one’s eyes immediately dart left, then right.

Before long the visitor realizes they’re in a retail shop. But it’s not just any store selling cards and other miscellaneous paper products. There’s a sense this is something special.

Most of the unique cards and paper at Regional Assembly of Text are displayed under the building’s grand staircase.

But against the other wall, surrounded by colourful stationery, are four stations with typewriters, available for rent to the public by the hour for a small fee. The quaint arrangement harkens back to a slower time when computers and the Internet were the stuff of futuristic fantasy.

The idea of sitting down to type out a note comes from the successful “letter writing club” co-owners Brandy Fedoruk and Rebecca Dolen began when they opened their first shop seven years ago, in Vancouver’s Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood.

“It’s kind of a challenging space,” Mount Doug secondary alumnus Fedoruk says, looking around the lobby. “But we were up for the challenge and fell in love with this space.”

Unlike at their other store, where once a month 20 or 30 people gather to click-clack away at whatever kind of notes they wish, the Victoria typewriters are expected to have a different use.

“I can imagine tourists coming in and writing a letter to someone,” Fedoruk says.

“The pace is slower. You can’t delete things so you have to compose your sentences (a little) ahead of time,” Dolen adds.

The women liken their business model to the back-to-the-land trend toward single-purpose specialists, such as butchers, bakers and fishmongers.

The unique cards and paper are all designed by the women, who graduated in 2003 from Emily Carr School of Art and Design and have developed a thriving wholesale business that ships around North America.

They’ll be based in Vancouver, but plan to arrange their schedule to be able to spend time at the Victoria location as often as possible.

“It’s nice having a little space where you can see people enjoying what you do,” Fedoruk says.

Regional Assembly of Text, lobby 560 Johnson St., open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Call 778-265-6067 or visit assemblyoftext.com.

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Students and staff at the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria are sure to benefit from a $500,000 donation from Vancouver-based resource firm Goldcorp Inc.

The funding will go toward the school’s Centre for Social and Sustainable Innovation, which has launched several research and education initiatives with a small annual budget since being established in 2011.

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World Culinary Olympics multiple medal winner Iain Rennie has joined the Oak Bay Beach Hotel as executive chef, bringing with him sous chef Josh Houston. Rennie comes from the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa … The West Shore Chamber of Commerce has added a couple new faces. Craig Sorochan is the new community relations and events co-ordinator, while Laura Smithson takes over as manager of community engagement. Lindsay Wilson shifts to director of operations and members services … Maxine Dell is the newest director on the Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion board … Blain Lawson of Victoria is the new general manager of the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch. He is former president/CEO of Coast Wholesale AppliancesMischelle vanThiel took over as executive director of Victoria Hospice this week, replacing long-standing boss Wayne Peterson, who retired.

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