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Coquitlam teen shocked after thieves smashed into her gift store before opening day

Nicole Doiron is grateful for the support of the Austin Heights neighbourhood after her store was broken into this week.

Nicole Doiron may be only 16 years old, but she's on a mission to create a gift store full of fresh cut flowers, gifts by local artisans, and a scented, calm space in Coquitlam's busy Austin Heights neighbourhood.

But on Wednesday (Feb. 1), the atmosphere at Artisan Gifts and Flowers, was anything but calm.

The store, located at 1038A Austin Ave., had been broken into the previous evening, and Doiron had a big mess to clean up, including boarding up the front door and taking stock of the inventory.

According to video taken by the alarm, thieves smashed through the front door, rifled through the cash desk, stole the cash register, and went out the back door, leaving the front door unlocked.

Fortunately, there was no money in the cash register. 

But Doiron was upset to see the store in disarray Wednesday morning because it was supposed to be the opening day for her new business.

"I wasn't scared, I was shocked," said Doiron, a Grade 11 student at St. Thomas More Collegiate in Burnaby, who runs the business, with the help of her mom, Susie, and sister Meagan.

Coquitlam RCMP have confirmed the break-in and say officers are on the case.

Meanwhile, Doiron and her mom are coming to grips with what happened.

Grateful for community support

"When I came into the store I felt jaded," said Susie, "But a lot of people have come in today and they've been so kind."

The debit and credit card reader still works and Doiron sold her first gift Wednesday morning — a baby shower gift consisting of a cute bowl and spoon.

"A lot of people have come in [and] they've had a lot of nice things to say," said Doiron.

Despite the setback, Doiron is eager for the challenge of taking over the business from the previous owner.

"I have a lot of optimism," she told the Tri-City News.

Started propagating plants

Plans are in the works to update stock to feature more local artisans and sustainable products.

Doiron learned flower arranging when she previously worked at Artisan Gifts and Flowers and has always had a bit of a green thumb, planting, growing, germinating and propagating plants in her bedroom during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Her dad, Patrick, a business owner himself, said he wants his daughter to be a success and supports her efforts to run the gift shop between school and homework.

Doiron is fine with hard work, she says.

"It's a bit hectic," Doiron admits, acknowledging that she had to get up at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning (Jan. 30) to get to United Flower Growers, a flower wholesaler in Burnaby.

But the business gives her a sense of purpose.

Her sister and mom mind the shop when Doiron's at school but it's Doiron that is leading the business.

And so far the high school student seems to be ready to take on the challenge — despite this week's break-in.

"She knows what she wants and she's going for it," said mom, Susie.

Coquitlam RCMP investigating

Business hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, except for the week of Valentine's Day, when the shop will be open Monday and Tuesday.

Coquitlam RCMP have confirmed that frontline officers attended Artisan Gift and Flowers for a report of a break and enter that occurred overnight between Jan. 31 to Feb. 1, 2023.

The file is still under investigation.

Coquitlam RCMP is asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident or may have dashcam or video footage to contact the Coquitlam RCMP at 604-945-1550 and quote file number 2023-2939.