BUSINESS BEAT: Victorians getting ready for a fresh change

Downtown Public Market progresses toward spring opening

Victoria Downtown Public Market Society general manager Maryanne Carmack and board chair Philippe Lucas

The basement of the Hudson building, with its collection of concrete pillars helping hold up the floors of residential spaces above, appears more a  construction site than a place to find fresh produce.

In a few short months the Douglas Street space will be a literal beehive of activity – with real honey farmers setting up shop here, along with a variety of other food producers.

Members of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society, including chair Philippe Lucas, have been plotting the creation of a permanent year-round facility for the past three years. Lucas says the concept has been rattling around his head longer than that.

“We’re getting so close here that I can taste it,” he said Tuesday, after the society announced it has 70 per cent of the vendor spots filled and a floor plan laid out.

“For me, this has always been a beneficial social enterprise. I think the potential to marry the ‘eat local’ movement with the ‘shop local’ movement (creates a) unique proposition for positive social change.”

The hope is the market will become a destination for visitors and locals alike, much like the public markets at Pike Place in Seattle and the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

Established merchants Silk Road Tea, Wildfire Bakery and Salt Spring Island Cheese join a sweet and savoury pie seller, Mexican food kiosk, seafood shop and spice merchant as confirmed permanent or one-year contracted vendors.

“We’re actively looking for a butcher,” said general manager Maryanne Carmack.

With fresh produce sellers and other merchants expected to fill up the day tables, the market holds plenty of promise, she added.

“The way that it all came together was from the community supporting our successful summer and winter farmer’s markets. (That) shows that we’re missing that public market component for the city.”

The plan is for the seven-day-a-week market to open up sometime in June. The society also hopes to host outdoor markets in the alley between the former department store and the construction site at the back of the property.

For vendor information, call Carmack at 250-884-8552 or Lucas at 250-588-1160 or visit victoriapublicmarket.com.

Ocean River Sports hosts gear-up event

All things paddling and outdoorsy are the focus of this weekend’s Spring Gear-Up event, hosted by kayak and canoe dealer Ocean River Sports, in the parking lot across from its store at 1824 Store St. Attendees can find information on paddling sports and other outdoor recreation activities as well as deals from various merchants on outdoor products. The event happens from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Victoria app designer gains startup kudos

Alex Glassey, CEO of Glassey Technologies, walked away with a pair of awards for his new app, StratPad, at Startup Canada’s Bridging the Gap in Financial Literacy event last week. The app, which aims to help users create more effective and focused business plans, earned the Financial Literacy award for startups and the People’s Choice award at the competition, co-sponsored by business software company Intuit. Find out more at stratpad.com.

Garden pest management company grows again

Victoria-based Contech Inc., manufacturers of the Scarecrow sprinkler product and sellers and numerous other animal and pest deterrent products, has bought New York-based Scenery Solutions, makers of the Frame-It-All line of raised garden beds. The acquisition follows Contech’s purchase of pest management company Tanglefoot in 2009 and pheromone-based pest repellent product manufacturer Pherotech International in 2008.

Names in the business news around Greater Victoria

Teresa Ryback of TD Swansburg Design Studio won the bathroom redesign category, while fellow Victoria designer Ines Hanl of The Sky is the Limit took second in Whole House: Less than $400,000 category at last week’s Northwest Design Awards competition … Mary Bea Moyle is the new general manager for Parkside Victoria Resort and Spa, which was sold to local investors as of March 1. Moyle was formerly GM of the Queen Victoria Hotel and Suites until its closure last September … Kay Koot is the new GM of the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites, having formerly worked for Silver Birch Hotels and Resorts as GM at the Regina Inn Hotel and Conference Centre.

Send your business news to editor@vicnews.com