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Small businesses on the move: Estevan entrepreneurs talk about changes

Several small Estevan businesses recently changed their locations, following their dreams, improving their spaces and growing.  They share their experiences.

ESTEVAN — Several small local businesses recently changed their locations, following their dreams, improving their spaces and growing.  

The Mercury talked to some business owners that recently changed their addresses about their operations, achievements and plans.  

Jewels and Jems Furniture Redesigns 

New address – 1132 Fourth Street 

Jewels and Jems Furniture Redesigns is nearing its second anniversary. The first stretch, a really busy time for them, culminated with moving to a new location, but staying in downtown Estevan.  

They currently occupy the former Southeast Youth Employment Services space, and Daralee Kittelson, who owns and runs the business with Dorothy Tait as an employee helping her with various projects, said they are pretty happy with their new store.  

Kittleson noted that while they now have a bit less space, for them this move was an improvement.  

"It works great for our retail stuff. The workshop in the back is a little bit smaller, but it works great for us. It's better quality [for our needs]," Kittelson said. "And we wanted to be downtown for sure, so we kept our eye open ... And then this one came available and just worked out that we could move in right away and it still works for space." 

They are a part of the Estevan Downtown Business Association and wanted to stay downtown, as that partnership has been working well for them. They signed the lease in September and officially opened at the new location on Oct. 5.  

When they first opened, Jewels and Jems was offering furniture redesign and sign design workshops. They were also selling some renewed furniture and accepting pieces to be redone. Since then, their offering has grown quite a bit.  

They currently still have custom furniture, take on projects and offer seasonal and occasional workshops, but they also expanded into kitchen cabinet refinishing, which proved to be really popular with the community.  

"We can come in and repaint your existing cabinets and give them a bit of an update," Kittelson explained.  

They also brought in some materials and products for sale, which would allow people to work on their furniture redesign projects, be it something they started or learned about at a workshop or something they want to do on their own.  

"For people that want to redo [furniture] themselves, we do offer a full line of furniture paint and all the accessories and brushes and everything that goes along with it," Kittelson said.  

They are currently booking Christmas redesign workshops, and doing kitchen cabinets and furniture redesign projects.  

Jewels and Jems Furniture Redesigns is open Wednesday-Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment only Monday and Tuesday. 

The General Store 

New address – 1207 Fourth Street 

After two years in operation in Estevan, The General Store reopened at their new location, just across the street from where they used to be, on Oct. 12, after a fast-paced three-day move. 

"It was insane. We had so many people come up to help. I couldn't have done it without vendors, friends and family. It was amazing," said store owner Kendra Sutherland.  

They are now occupying the space that was previously taken by Jewels and Jem Furniture Redesigns. The space is bigger than what they used to have, and Sutherland said she has several ideas for the space, but she won't get to that until later.  

"I have so many irons in the fire and I'm not sure which direction we're going to go yet," Sutherland said. "I'm going to try to get through Christmas because we're always really busy. So just get through that and regroup and see where we land. Because you constantly have to evolve."  

The past two years have been successful for The General Store. They've grown to over 80 vendors, offering their unique, mostly hand-made products on a regular basis.  

"Estevan rocks. People are awesome. Everybody's so supportive. It's been excellent," Sutherland said.  

While there is some turnaround with vendors, the volume of supplies remains pretty steady, she added.  

"Usually, every six months, we have about 10 vendors switch out. And then around Christmas, everybody wants in. We have some turnaround with vendors, but that's good because we need new stuff in here."  

When the need to move came about, Sutherland knew she wanted to stay downtown, so she took the building that came available at that time. She had to knock some walls down to make the space work for her needs, but now the store looks good and is open to customers.  

The General Store offers a wide range of items, supplied by Saskatchewan home-based businesses and local crafters. They strive to mix their offerings up and be able to provide people with great ideas for gifts and items for many different occasions. They have anything from homemade food, to jewellery, to home décor, to plants, to candles, to bath and body supplies, to clothes, to books, to toys, and much more.  

They will also have pop-up vendors joining them through the Christmas season.  

The General Store in Estevan is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 

V.S. Style Boutique 

New address – Estevan Market Mall, former Ardene location 

For online V.S. Style Boutique owners Oksana Sych and Irina Vlezko, opening a real, physical store was always a dream and a goal. This fall it came true when they opened a pop-up store at the Estevan Market Mall.  

The move came soon after their small business' first anniversary. In early October, they were able to welcome their first customers at the former Ardene space at the mall. The changes came with help and support from mall manager Arlene Stebeleski.  

"Already last year we were asking Arlene if there was a way to move to the mall. We are a small business, so we couldn't afford to take up a big space," recalled Sych. "And she came up with an idea of splitting up the space to make it more affordable for small businesses to come in as pop-up stores, and presented that idea to her employers."  

The project came to fruition this fall and V.S. Style Boutique was happy to be the first one to take the opportunity. Sych noted that Stebeleski not only helped them to get the space but was also working with them to arrange and fill it, providing racks, shelves and everything else needed.  

Estevan's Sych and Vlezko opened V.S. Style Boutique as an online women's clothing store last summer. Since then, the business has visited every corner of the southeast, won quite a few hearts of local fashionmongers and kept growing and adjusting to the needs of Saskatchewan, Canadian and American women.  

"We started with two racks of clothes, and now we have seven of them that we take with us to different communities for pop-up stores at various events and places … We also purchased a van that we use for taking our collection around. We call it 'our bus'ik' [pet name, made of English bus and Ukrainian affectionate ending]," Vlezko said with a laugh.  

They've been putting in endless hours the last year and reinvesting all they make to get their dream business off the ground, and now their hard work is starting to pay off. They have orders coming in from all across Canada and the U.S., see some stability in their operation and are finally able to pay themselves some wages.  

"We travel a lot, and that helps with growth," Vlezko said.  

"But we also have our regular local customers, they call, ask, they are really supportive and that's amazing," Sych added. "We are really grateful for that support, for our local customers that accepted us. And we are really thankful to the mall and Arlene for helping us." 

The owners hope they'll continue with growth and stability going forward.  

"Everything is possible, all you need is hard work, strong will and to love what you do," Vlezko said.  

"And we definitely like what we do and do it with passion," Sych added. "And our husbands help and support us a lot." 

V.S. Style Boutique’s hours vary from week to week. For more information and for their collection that updates every week keep an eye on their Facebook page.