Trail residents are checking out a new shopping corner downtown since retail clothing and shoes became neighbours in the 1100-block of Cedar Avenue.
Lorraine Johnston of Sonsie says business is good since opening up her “fun but environmentally and socially responsible” shop this spring, but foot traffic has picked up since Comfort Walk recently flipped the open sign on next door.
“Having another business next door is fantastic,” she said. “We definitely need more downtown.”
That has been part of her mission. She is attempting to make shoppers more conscious of their purchase but also would like to see Trail’s downtown get back to the good old days.
Growing up in Rossland, Johnston recalls taking the bus down the hill to spend her allowance in downtown Trail but when she moved back from Victoria in 2009 “it was really sad because there was nothing here.”
“I worked a few jobs and got tired of getting laid off and no longer needed,” she explained. “I thought, ‘I’m almost 50, it’s time I took control and did it myself,’ so I went through Community Futures and took them my idea and went through the program, which gave me the knowledge and the backing.”
Johnston has traded in her plaid shirts and jeans from her younger years in Rossland for ready-to-wear funky patterned threads.
Sonsie, which is a Scottish term for attractively plump, specializes in plus-sized fashion with sizes starting at 14 but also carries one-size fits all items and shoes and accessories for all.
The store focuses on selling Canadian brands like Papa Fashions from Vancouver and Nelson’s Blue Sky Clothing that are fair trade and use “sustainably-sourced natural fibres.” Sonsie also offers consignment items, which are selected based on season, brand name, and quality. Johnston will keep an item for three months, lowering the price the longer it’s on the shelf before inviting its owner in to collect her portion of the sale or pick up stock that didn’t move.
Comfort is key, says Johnston, but not at the expense of fashion.
Same goes for her new neighbour Comfort Walk, owned by Alex and Angelika Pasko. The West Kelowna couple was drawn to the city after meeting sisters Margaret Crawford and Kay Oliphant, who visited their store back home in 2014. It wasn’t long after that the couple were introducing their goods at the Trail Market on the Esplanade.
“After more than one year of good relationship and always good positive attitude from people, we were thinking that maybe (it’s) a great time to be in Trail permanent and open a shoe store there,” the couple who immigrated to Canada in 2003 told the Times via email.
The Paskos have been in the shoe business since 1992 and take foot comfort seriously. The new store in Trail specializes in quality and comfort with select shoes and prefabricated insoles and custom orthotic footbeds, which can start with a consultation from Alex, who is a foot health practitioner.
New business in downtown is good news for Trail Mayor Mike Martin and his council who are committed to bringing more people into the core.
“We are absolutely delighted to see two new retail stores opening up in Trail and one of them, the shoe store, in particular,” he said Tuesday. “We have not had a shoe store in Trail for a number of years.
“This provides an avenue for our residents to shop locally for something that is probably sorely needed in the community.”