A long-time Port Coquitlam business woman has re-launched a local institution in a brand new location during a pandemic.
Ask Rose Vander Zalm what it’s been like in the last 10 months to open Hampton Home Living, formerly Art Knapp. Was it exciting, challenging, or even exhausting?
“All three,” she said with a laugh to Tri-City News.
Looking out over the well-stocked store in Fremont Village in Port Coquitlam, it’s easy to see why getting the business up and running would fuel so many emotions.
It takes a lot of hard work to start a business from scratch — especially one with the history of the 31-year-old Art Knapp store that was sold last year to make way for a car dealership.
Still, Vander Zalm is hoping to attract a loyal following with a curated selection of plants, home decorations and fashion that drew customers to the larger store.
So far, it appears the new store has generated a buzz in the Village that is now starting to fill its shops with cafes, restaurants, services and even a giant climbing facility.
“The people in the area are excited that finally something is happening,” Vander Zalm acknowledged.
Customers appear drawn to the modern store with its light-filled corners with intriguing items selected from producers in B.C. and across Canada. Although some are manufactured off-shore, Vander Zalm said she strove to acquire stock that was produced to high standards, using sustainable practices.
Gardeners won’t find insecticides in Hampton Home Living garden products such as pest control, fertilizers and soil are all organic, she said.
JEWELRY FEATURES LOCAL ARTISTS
Local artists will be represented in jewellery, and some of the fashion, including Up! Pants, is made in Canada.
Starting a store during the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge.
As there were no shows that Vander Zalm could attend to choose product, everything was purchased online and there were delays to getting the store open.
Still, the delays were a blessing in disguise as Hampton Home Living is opening just as vaccinations are ramping up, cases are declining and provincial health orders are loosening.
Vander Zalm said she is also looking forward to expanding the nursery area, which is currently hampered by the lack of fencing. But there is still a wide variety of perennials, annuals and pot stuffers to choose from, as well as lovely fuchsias and hanging pots catering to the local residents who are moving into new units being built in the area.
“The garden centre will be the real test,” acknowledged Vander Zalm, who said Art Knapp was known for its wide plant selection, including trees and shrubs, which aren’t available at her store.
FORMER STAFF NOW WORK AT THE STORE
Still, she hopes the Art Knapp connection — as well as many of the employees who were rehired at her store — will be enough to bring people to her store to see what’s available.
As for the store name, Vander Zalm kept close to home with this, too, naming it after the street she lives on.
And perhaps that was appropriate, because for the last 10 months, “My house became the warehouse.”
Now that the store is open, Vander Zalm deserves a bit of a rest as she surveys the shop with its nooks and crannies filled with specialty items such as Voluspa scented candles, Cucina soap and So Luxury body products.
“I feel so good about the feedback from the community and how happy they are that a little bit of what we created (with Art Knapp) is still here.”