The allure of a well-established community is a significant draw for two business owners who shifted from Victoria’s downtown to Oak Bay Avenue.
Lorna Ketler started her business in 2000 on the Lower Mainland as a consignment clothing store focused on plus sizes. She moved around a couple times, shifting up to the Sunshine Coast for a while then back to her Granville Island base before expanding to Vancouver Island, and downtown Victoria, five years ago.
She’s always specialized in larger sizes, what she calls “clothing to celebrate your curves,” though these days Bodacious Lifestyles Boutique features new items including a style line of its own.
Ketler loved being at the heart of Victoria, but the last couple of years she came to realize a handful of things she wanted: more space, better parking and better access to her business. To fulfil those desires, in December she moved the business to Oak Bay Avenue just on the Victoria side of Foul Bay Road.
The Bodacious boutique opened in January and Ketler said she saw an uptick in sales from the start. And the welcome from residents and neighbouring businesses was warm and genuine.
It’s not unlike the welcome the owners of Hughes Clothing reported when that business returned to Oak Bay Village in 2020 – after 35 years in downtown Victoria.
Jennifer Brewerton also moved Lazy Susan’s shop of vintage and vintage-inspired goods to Oak Bay literally for the village vibe, including the walkability and events that already draw businesses together.
Brewerton was previously part of a group of Fort Street merchants that coordinated events to draw shoppers to the 700- and 800-block. In the village, the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association (BIA) representing 150 businesses adjacent to The Avenue, organizes several special events that benefit those beyond its official boundaries.
Building on that, Brewerton took some of the larger space now available to her and created a backroom studio for rentals and workshops – a space where people can create.
“My experience with people downtown who came into the store, and in Oak Bay too, during the pandemic people felt disassociated with each other,” she said.
Both business owners are also fans of colour, as noted from their decor, but also art. Each features artists in her own way, from an artist of the month wall to decor strung from the ceiling.
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