With 22 new business licences issued in Trail over the summer, who’s coming to the city and why?
Damian Brazeau first brought his leatherwork to local music festivals and fairs, then stayed for the people.
“My kids love it here and I love it here,” he says. “I’d been coming here for years and selling my art at places like Shambhala, Starbelly Jam and the Pass Creek Fair …. I had good success with my business in the Kootenays and I clicked with the people … and since I moved here it’s just been one thing after another falling into place.”
Originally from the Okanagan, the artist and leatherworker extraordinaire is owner of Kootenay Leathercraft located at 1338 Cedar Avenue in downtown Trail.
He is one of a handful of new businesses breathing life into the city – 22 new business licences were issued in Trail since June – bringing the total new business licences (resident and intermunicipal) to 53, compared to 45 in 2016.
“Kelowna was getting to be a little push and shove and hard for me to make a go of having a business of my own,” said Brazeau. “So I looked into where to go, I have a couple of kids, and Trail has great programs for children – and it’s affordable.”
Brazeau’s business in the “dying art” of custom handcrafted leather and repair has only been opened five months, but in that short time his reach has extended far into the community – high school students drop by on the weekend to draw from his expertise and he works with a person from the Community Inclusion Centre. He’s even donated an original art piece for silent auction at the health foundation’s upcoming Snowflake Gala.
“It’s like being on a different planet compared with the Okanagan, the quality of life and the people,” he said. “I am so glad I moved here.”
Another new business called “Threads” – a clothing store for women and men – is set to open Oct. 20.
Behind the store’s eye-catching white rock facade at 1265 Bay Avenue, is the new generation of well seasoned Trail business leader, Gerald Klassen.
Nicolas Klassen, Gerald’s son, grew up working the counter of his dad’s former Rossland Avenue shop, Gerick Cycle and Sports. (Two employees bought the well established business in 2012)
“I am extremely happy and thankful to be able to work and live in the city I grew up in,” Nic, now in his early twenties, told the Trail Times. “And contribute to the growing economy in Trail.”
He will be carrying high quality, simple, fashion forward adult clothing with brands sourced from North America, Australia and Europe as well as lifestyle footwear and accessories.
“I have always had a passion for clothing and fashion,” Nic shared. “After I finished university I knew I wanted to come back to Trail and create a business the Kootenays has never seen before.”
Gerald Klassen says both his children had been involved and seen first hand what it takes to run a retail business from “the day they were born, and know exactly what it takes to make this happen.”
“I have always told them that ‘people just need to take a chance on Trail,’” Gerald said. “And that he is doing … I am very happy that he has chosen Trail as the place to start his business carrier.”
Following the store’s Oct. 20 launch, Nick is planning a grand opening for the Black Friday weekend in November.
New energy from entrepreneurs like Brazeau and Klassen reflect a renewed confidence in the economy, Trail Mayor Mike Martin said on behalf of council.
“Trail City Council is very encouraged and pleased that the City of Trail is experiencing positive growth and investment in the business sector,” Martin said.
“Not only has council invested considerable moneys in local infrastructure to enhance services and improve the overall livability in the city, council has implemented various fiscal policies and other initiatives that provide a climate that is conducive to business,” he added.
“Council believes that this approach has been one of the key catalysts for what we are currently experiencing and are looking forward to the momentum continuing into 2018. Council’s strategic approach and ongoing structured planning that commenced early in their term has clearly resulted in the desired outcomes and bodes very well for the city’s future.”
After decades of being a big part of the Trail business community and understanding the challenges first hand, Gerald Klassen is encouraged by the current business climate.
“It is with great enthusiasm that for the first time in 35 years I am feeling something big starting to happen again to this area,” he said.
“It’s as simple as looking down Bay Avenue and seeing at least seven buildings and business either revamping their buildings and expanding, or new start ups, which is only positive and will give other’s the confidence to invest in this area,” Klassen said. “As well as give the consumer a reason to stay and spend their hard earned money at home.”
Besides Kootenay Leathercraft and Threads, doors have recently opened to iGotJuiced and Good Stuff on Cedar Avenue and a “Coming Soon” sign is up in the Bay Avenue window of the “Crown Columbia All-Suite Boutique Hotel” (former Crown Point).
“With more excitement, more shopping and attractions, comes the opportunity for all business to once again, after many many years capture the out-of -town clientele, which we have lost over the years,” Gerald said.
“So with that said, I see great things happening for Trail, Rossland, Montrose and Fruitvale, as living is still comparatively inexpensive, which makes it very attractive for entrepreneurs.”