STORIES

A collection of South Okanagan business stories

Oliver

Exhale Art Gallery

 

When you step into Exhale Art Gallery from Oliver’s Main Street, you’re overcome with a feeling of calm. Owners Aaron and Laura Metz are convinced that the calmness comes from the selenite crystal that Aaron uses in his artwork and Laura uses in an array of wellness products. (More…)

EXHALE ART GALLERY 3

Black Sage Butcher

 

Less than three years after Butcher Matt Leyes and his wife Ravina Johal moved to Oliver from Vancouver to open a shop, they’d outgrown their business. Black Sage Butcher, now on Main Street, fills a niche for quality meats from ethically raised animals, free range and without growth hormones or antibiotics. (More…) 

Matt Leyes and Ravina Johal, owners of Black Sage Butcher in Oliver, show some of their meat products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Maverick Estate Winery

 

When Maverick Estate Winery launched more than a decade ago, it was a family operation run by South African immigrants. In April 2020, they sold the winery to Andrew Windsor and Jan Nelson, along with partners Bob and Barb Shaunessy, all previously involved with Tinhorn Creek. Today, Windsor and Nelson are building on the original vision of the South African founders, while adding their own touches and expanding the business. (More…)

Eugene Kovalenko - Vineyard Manager Maverick Estate Winery

Bluewater Cannabis

 

The cannabis industry has changed enormously since legalization in October 2018, says Ryan Graham, managing partner of Bluewater Cannabis in Oliver. Most notably, there’s been a dramatic growth in the number of licensed micro growers producing a higher-quality craft cannabis. (More…)

Ryan Graham, managing partner of Bluewater Cannabis in Oliver, promotes the Bluewater brand with hats and other accessories. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Oliver Physiotherapy

 

Kristie Stefishen started Oliver Physiotherapy in her home in 2008, but the business expanded into her living room and den and ultimately a garage. Finally, in 2016, she bought and moved into the present building at 471 Fairview Road. “We progressed as we’ve grown,” she says. “It was the least stressful way to go.” (More…)

Kristie Stefishen (left), physiotherapist and owner of Oliver Physiotherapy, and physiotherapist Trish Stevens discussed how things work at the clinic. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Polka Dot Gifts

 

When you step into Polka Dot Gifts on Oliver’s Main Street, you’re in for an adventure of discovery. The spacious shop is packed with locally made crafts, bric-a-brac, little practical items like wallets, jewelry, pictures of movie stars, essential oils, aroma therapy products, and maybe a green vase shaped like a fish with a wide-open mouth. Owner Tracey Fleury reputedly has a “Spidey sense” of what will sell. (More…)

Jesa & Tracey of Polka Dot Gifts (Richard McGuire Photo)

Firehall Brewery

 

Firehall Brewery marked its 10th anniversary in 2021, following a decade of brewing and serving craft beer downstairs at the old fire hall. Brew chief and owner Sid Ruhland, who initially started the business with his father Jim, studied business and then taught himself how to brew English-ale-style beers – unpasturized, unfiltered and lacking preservatives – for extra flavour. (More…)

Brew chief Sid Ruhland pours a pint. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Jen’s Interior Painting

 

When you’re as busy as Jen Halvorson, you work Sundays and wherever the jobs take you – even if it’s up a twisty, slippery mountain road to a newly built house. Painters are in high demand. She enjoys painting for its instant sense of gratification, and she always makes sure the job is done right. “I eat, breathe and sleep paints,” she jokes. (More…)

Brew chief Sid Ruhland pours a pint. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Fillosophy Refill Bar

 

When Linsay Ogden opened her store in Oliver on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, it was more than just a business – it was a philosophy. That’s why she named the refillery store at 522 Fairview Road the “Fillosophy Refill Bar.” The philosophy is getting people to buy without wasteful, excess packaging — instead refilling and reusing containers, and selling locally made products. (More…)

Linsay Ogden, owner of Fillosophy Refill Bar, shows off a knitted wool hat made by Cecilia of Seawolf and Sage in Oliver. Ogden's store sells many locally made products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Backyard Farm Chef’s Table

 

Chris Van Hooydonk and his wife Mikkel Day-Ponce defied conventional restaurant wisdom when they started the Backyard Farm Chef’s Table in a heritage farmhouse on June 1, 2014. Conventional wisdom suggests as many sittings as possible with a standardized menu in order to maximize profits in a challenging industry. Backyard Farm, however, limits its sittings to one pre-booked group a night, each with a customized menu. It’s a business built to sustain a lifestyle for their family and staff. It’s a model that might not work for someone motivated by money. (More…)

Linsay Ogden, owner of Fillosophy Refill Bar, shows off a knitted wool hat made by Cecilia of Seawolf and Sage in Oliver. Ogden's store sells many locally made products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Red Raven Technology Solutions

 

Kevin Vetsch has lived with computers since he played games on a Commodore 64 as a child in the 1980s. Now 43, he’s worked with business computers for more than 20 years, but only in the past couple of years has his home-based business, Red Raven Technology Solutions, become his full-time occupation. He provides technology solutions to local businesses. He’s now set his sights on growing his business. (More…)

Linsay Ogden, owner of Fillosophy Refill Bar, shows off a knitted wool hat made by Cecilia of Seawolf and Sage in Oliver. Ogden's store sells many locally made products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Southern Irrigation

 

“If you don’t have irrigation here in the Okanagan, you’re not going to grow anything,” says Clayton Houweling, front-counter and logistic lead at Oliver’s Southern Irrigation. “It’s not just less crop,” he adds. “It’s no crop.” The company is owned by four brothers based in Chilliwack, and Oliver is one of eight locations across the West and Ontario. It opened in December 2018 when the company purchased the former Nulton Irrigation at the same location on Sawmill Road. Houweling moved from Chilliwack to Oliver in January 2020, and he says he loves the community. (More…)

Linsay Ogden, owner of Fillosophy Refill Bar, shows off a knitted wool hat made by Cecilia of Seawolf and Sage in Oliver. Ogden's store sells many locally made products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Argon Electrical & Solar Services

 

Installing a solar electric system for your house is a big investment, but there are government incentives and big savings on electric bills to make the investment worthwhile. That’s the view of Eric Pierce, who has sold solar systems for Argon Electrical and Solar Services Inc. for the past three years. Argon, owned by Dean Malmberg, of Oliver, has been doing solar installations for nearly 15 years, and work has been busy. “Right now we are probably the number one solar installer in the South Okanagan-Similkameen,” says Pierce. “It’s a fledgling market and it’s building quickly. We’re going to continue doing more solar… We’re very proud of the systems.” (More…)

Linsay Ogden, owner of Fillosophy Refill Bar, shows off a knitted wool hat made by Cecilia of Seawolf and Sage in Oliver. Ogden's store sells many locally made products. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Road 9 – Audrey’s Breads

 

The Enixon family arrived in Oliver in 2016 from France with one toddler, one big belly and six suitcases. Audrey’s husband, Jean Marc, had been invited to work in the South Okanagan as a winemaker. She drew on her own experience as a microbiologist to find her niche making sourdough bread. With help from South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, she obtained a food safe certificate. She’s been a vendor at Osoyoos Market on Main, and she also has customers who “subscribe” to her bread. (More…)

Audrey operates a microbakery from home l Feeding people some Sourdough bread, and french bake goods.

Osoyoos

Heaven on Earth Wellness

“From what I’ve been told, when people enter, they feel that they’ve just entered a space of comfort and they feel safe being here and they feel connected,” says Armanda Amaro, owner of Heaven on Earth Wellness on Main Street in Osoyoos. Amaro spends much of her time giving relaxing massages, but she emphasizes the connection between physical and spiritual. (More…)

Heaven on Earth Wellness - Armanda Amaro

Osoyoos Credit Union

Osoyoos Credit Union has served the Osoyoos community for more than 76 years, first opening in January 1946. Greg Sol, now the chief executive officer at OCU, got his career start at a major national bank, but he appreciates the differences that a credit union offers. Major banks aim to increase shareholder valuation. In contrast, credit unions are full-service financial cooperatives with profits going to the members. (More…)

Greg Sol, the CEO of Osoyoos Credit Union came to Osoyoos in 2015. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The Flame

In the summer of 2022, the Indian Flame on Main closed its doors next to Mami’s Pizza and reopened as “The Flame,” just up the street in the building that used to be home to Golden Chopsticks. It was a giant step to go from a little restaurant of about 25 seats to a new location with a 200-seat capacity. Behind the rebranding is Aman Rai, the 25-year-old owner and manager, who got a helping hand from his family. The larger facility has an attractive bar and serves an assortment of traditional Punjabi food. (More…)

Greg Sol, the CEO of Osoyoos Credit Union came to Osoyoos in 2015. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Rooster Mafia Foods

When Marco and Jasmine Calisto began making plans for a food business in Osoyoos, they envisioned a café bistro. Instead, through a turn of events, they opened Rooster Mafia Foods, a Portuguese-style deli-market near Legion Beach just after Valentine’s Day, 2022. The food is inspired by the multi-generation culinary skills of Marco’s Portuguese heritage, but the two say they’ve tweaked the recipes beyond traditional. (More…)

Jasmine and Marco Calisto have been operating Rooster Mafia Foods since February 2022 near Legion Beach in Osoyoos. It's a market deli strongly influenced by Portuguese traditions. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Tumbleweed Craft Distillery & Tasting Bar

When Mike Patterson purchased Tumbleweed Craft Distillery and Tasting Bar in the summer of 2021, it was a spur of the moment decision. He knew Osoyoos because his family vacationed there each summer for about a dozen years, sharing space with the family of his business partner, Darren Bowman. Bowman phoned Patterson at his Abbotsford home to tell him the distillery was for sale. “We should buy it,” said Bowman. Patterson didn’t even consult his wife. “Let’s do it,” he replied. (More…)

Jasmine and Marco Calisto have been operating Rooster Mafia Foods since February 2022 near Legion Beach in Osoyoos. It's a market deli strongly influenced by Portuguese traditions. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Wayside Select Books & Art

It’s been years since Osoyoos had a dedicated used bookstore. That changed in May 2022 when Wayside Select Books & Art opened its doors on Main Street. It’s no ordinary used bookstore. Instead, the brainchild of Dan Williams and his informal volunteer group aims to raise funds for community service projects in and around Osoyoos. “Their motivation is very much to be doing something in the community… and looking for some meaning between golf games,” Williams said, noting that most of the group members are retired.(More…)

Jasmine and Marco Calisto have been operating Rooster Mafia Foods since February 2022 near Legion Beach in Osoyoos. It's a market deli strongly influenced by Portuguese traditions. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The Art Gallery Osoyoos & ODAC

Just west of the town hall in Osoyoos, behind a sculpture of a family of quails, is an older building that houses The Art Gallery Osoyoos. The historic building was once the old RCMP station, and besides the gallery, it also is home to a pottery studio, painting studio and a boardroom. The volunteer-run gallery hosts artisan markets during the summer and before Christmas, as well as shows featuring local and regional artists throughout the year. (More…)

Darlene Fillion, one of two co-chairs on the gallery committee, is displaying her ceramic work at the Summer Artisan Market. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Osoyoos Farmers' Market

Around 8 a.m. on a summer Saturday morning, vendors are busy setting up for the Osoyoos Farmers’ Market. The market runs from early May right through to the end of September, or in the case of 2023, to Oct. 7. It’s held in the Town Square park next to town hall on Main Street. Most vendors set up canopy tents to provide shade in the blistering summer sun. Hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.. (More…)

Darlene Fillion, one of two co-chairs on the gallery committee, is displaying her ceramic work at the Summer Artisan Market. (Richard McGuire Photo)

C3 Industries

When Martin and Trish Hahn took over the landscaping business C3 Industries in 2017, they decided to run it from a small shed in their backyard. It only took about three months for them to realize they’d underestimated the local need for their services and the company’s growth potential. “We found out very quickly in that first year that there was such a need for the service,” said Trish. “For lawnmowing, for cleanups, for hedge pruning, and irrigation.” (More…)

Martin and Trish Hahn, owners of C3 Industries Landscaping and Property Maintenance, pose next to a truck in front of their shop at Lakeshore Drive and Hwy 3 in Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire Photo)

McLean Construction

Len McLean is a builder in more ways than one. He’s not only the owner and general manager of McLean Construction – a company that builds houses, works on hotels, and does renovations in the South Okanagan. He’s also a strong believer in building the community. “It’s not just because they give to me, but to make the community better for everybody, for our kids, for the seniors and everybody in between,” he says. (More…)

Len McLean, owner and general manager of McLean Construction, is currently working on two houses at Reflection Point, north of Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire Photo)

South Okanagan Property Management

Ashley Lutke-Schipholt has been working as a property manager in Osoyoos since 2010, but until May 2021 she always worked for other companies. Then she took the plunge and started South Okanagan Property Rentals, her own business, based in an office on Spartan Drive in Osoyoos. “My dad has been an entrepreneur my whole life, so I guess I always thought I’d go the business route somehow,” she said, explaining her career choice. “There’s not a ton of work in Osoyoos, so I just kind of created my own.” (More…)

Ashley Lutke-Schipholt, owner of South Okanagan Property Management, greets customers at her office on Spartan Drive in Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Nk'Mip Cellars

When Justin Hall took over as Estate Winemaker at Nk’Mip Cellars in June 2021, he decided he wasn’t going to mess with success. Under his predecessor, Randy Picton, with whom Hall had worked closely since 2004, the winery won awards and acclaim both in Canada and internationally. It was North America’s first Indigenous winery. “Being part of this winery for years now has really moulded me into the place,” says Hall. “Nk’Mip Cellars is as much a part of me as I am part of them. I know this building inside out. And I know where we’ve come from and where we’re going.” (More…)

Justin Hall, Estate Winemaker at Nk'Mip Cellars, shows the barrels where wine ages in the lower level. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Okanagan Falls

Okanagan Falls Heritage & Museum

It’s easy to drive past Heritage Place in Okanagan Falls and be unaware that its buildings contain a treasure trove of the community’s history. The collection of buildings includes the Bassett House, an early 20th century prefab house; a thrift store; a museum dedicated to rodeo star Kenny McLean; and a larger museum containing numerous century-old local artifacts. (More…)

The volunteer-run thrift store helps to support the historic facilities at Heritage Place in Okanagan Falls. Pictured is volunteer Joanne Pedersen. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Okanagan Falls Visitor Centre

From the May long weekend to Thanksgiving, the Okanagan Falls Visitor Centre provides a friendly welcome to visitors from across Canada and around the world. It may not be immediately obvious, but this important service is provided by five dedicated volunteers, along with two summer students. In fact, without those volunteers, it would be hard to operate outside the summer months when the students return to school. (More…)

Jim Georgeson is the office manager at Center for Dentistry. He is also the father of business owner Dr. Georgina Georgeson. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Natural Family Health Clinic

Naturopathic doctor Tamara Browne sees patients from around British Columbia at her clinic in an Okanagan Falls strip mall. “They come from all over southern BC,” said Dr. Browne. “Some of the things I do are fairly specialized, and people will travel a long distance.” Two of the specialties that Dr. Browne has – and not all naturopathic doctors can do – are intravenous or pain injection therapies. These require extra training and licensing. “I guess that differentiates me from a lot of naturopathic doctors who don’t do those more advanced treatments.” (More…)

Dr. Tamara Browne of the Natural Family Health Clinic and Chelation Centre in Okanagan Falls. (Richard McGuire Photo)

KJ Coffee Bar

When Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent decided to open KJ Coffee Bar in Okanagan Falls in 2016, they wanted to be in a community small enough that they would know their customers. Oliver and Penticton were too big. They’ve built their business around regular local customers rather than relying on the tourism season. “I serve happiness with coffee,” said Mancheron. (More…)

Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent are owners of KJ Coffee Bar. The KJ in their name comes from the first initial of their first names. (Richard McGuire Photo)

OK Falls Hotel

The OK Falls Hotel has been a fixture of the community’s main street since the 1950s. But it’s recently seen some changes culminating in its closure for more than four years, major renovations, and finally a reopening in March 2023. “The bar is probably the highlight of it,” says Randy Stoltz, business owner of the hotel. “The whole room is just fresher and cleaner and a little more airy than it was in the past.” (More…)

Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent are owners of KJ Coffee Bar. The KJ in their name comes from the first initial of their first names. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Kaleden

Doug's Homestead

It’s a Wednesday morning and customers are lined up at Doug’s Homestead on Highway 97 in Kaleden to buy beef jerky before it sells out. Their jerky is so popular that customers send in pictures for the wall of themselves in distant corners of the world wearing shirts saying: “Keep calm, the jerky’s on,” or “I love Doug’s Homestead.” Jerky is one of the top three products, but the most popular is the bacon, say Brent and Linette McClelland, the couple who have run the business since the end of 2007. Pepperoni is the other product in the top three. (More…)

Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent are owners of KJ Coffee Bar. The KJ in their name comes from the first initial of their first names. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Linden Gardens

The name “Kaleden” derives in part from the Biblical Garden of Eden. The “Kal” comes from the Greek “kalos” for “beautiful.” The closest you’ll come to the Garden of Eden in this community is Linden Gardens, a nine-acre, idyllic, flowering corner of paradise overlooking Skaha Lake. Linden Gardens was created by Ken and Margaret Hayter, who decided in 2002 to get out of apple farming and, inspired by Brian Minter, to develop a garden instead. “We were pretty tired of fruit farming, so we were looking for something new to do,” explains Ken. “We were listening to Brian Minter on the radio. We thought, oh wow, he had a garden. Maybe we should have one.” (More…)

Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent are owners of KJ Coffee Bar. The KJ in their name comes from the first initial of their first names. (Richard McGuire Photo)

Okanagan Falls

Vounteers get things done

Rural communities depend on volunteers to get things done
Part of a Series

Volunteers: Service clubs struggle to stay relevant as nature of volunteering changes

Service clubs have been a major source of volunteers in South Okanagan communities, and they’ve left a legacy of recreation facilities and charitable work. But in recent decades, some clubs have come and gone and others are struggling to hange on. It’s partly the changing nature of volunteerism and partly demographics. (More…)

Karl Mancheron and his wife Joannie Parent are owners of KJ Coffee Bar. The KJ in their name comes from the first initial of their first names. (Richard McGuire Photo)