Yarrow’s only gift shop is shutting its doors for good.
Inspired Arts and Gifts, a small shop which sells local handmade artisan items, will be closing on May 15.
The cute, yellow-coloured building has been a fixture on Yarrow Central Road for 80 years and has been an artisan gift shop for more than a decade.
Owner Leigh Jones bought the business five years ago.
“In 2017 while looking for a country home in Yarrow, I drove past a small retail store and saw a sign out front that read ‘Closing Out Sale.’ I went in… bought a scarf and then bought the business,” she recalled.
It wasn’t just the little shop that she loved, but the community of Yarrow itself.
“I was enamoured with the town and the charm and the country lifestyle,” Jones said. “It’s such a beautiful little pocket over here. That’s what I fell for, certainly.”
She and her husband had lived in Kitsilano for 30 years and were ready for a change. The store was a great opportunity for them to leave the city and come to the country, so she bought the business along with the name.
It’s been called Inspired Arts and Gifts for the past 13 years. The first business at that location, back in the 1940s, was a print shop. It’s also been a tattoo parlour and shop that sold gift baskets and floral arrangements, Jones said.
The single-storey building is painted a yellow flax colour and white pillars line the front entrance. An oval sign sits above the slanted roof of the front porch.
“It’s like a doll’s house and I think that’s what I fell in love with. It’s like going inside your doll’s house to play shopkeeper.”
Inside, antique furniture and shelves hold a variety of jewelry, pottery, ornaments and other items.
Although it’s open year-round, the business is very much seasonal. Peak months are during tourist season (May to the beginning of September) plus the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Since she announced the shop will be closing, business has increased greatly.
“It’s like two weekends before Christmas almost each time I’m open. I’ve never been this busy in March.”
But with COVID, rising operational costs and flooding in the area, the time has come for Inspired Arts and Gifts to close for good.
“It was a difficult decision to make,” she said. “The last two years have been challenging and difficult.”
The flooding was “the shocking component of the end,” Jones said.
The first three years of owning the business came with their own challenges as well. From the time they bought the store to when they actually moved to Yarrow was three years and she commuted from Vancouver to Yarrow during that time. She and her husband finally found a house they liked in Yarrow at the end of 2019, just before the pandemic hit.
During COVID she had to let staff go and is now down to “very part-time” staff.
Her little shop isn’t the only one affected over the past two years. Inspired Arts and Gifts is the third business to shut down during the pandemic.
Envision Financial announced it was permanently closing in September 2020 and Westland Insurance shut down and moved to Garrison. Additionally, Fas Gas (aka Rainbow Gas) caught fire in November of 2021 and has not yet opened up again.
“It’s an impact for the commercial business,” Jones said.
But, she couldn’t hang on any longer and said it’s time to say goodbye.
“It’s been a ride.”
She compares her shop to places like barber shops, general stores or soda fountains where folks would just come in to chat. That’s what Jones will miss the most – the conversations, the small talk, the chit-chat of locals.
She recalled people being in her store after the flood exchanging stories of what they had lost, like livestock and crops.
“People were able to get out of that zone and come in, even for a few minutes.”
She doesn’t know what the landlord has planned for the location, but would love to see another gift shop there.
As difficult as the decision has been for Jones, she said she is full of gratitude and wants to thank her loyal customers and the community of Yarrow who have supported her small business throughout the years.
She’ll be staying in Yarrow and plans to volunteer in the community.
“It’s been an amazing experience and life-fulfilling journey and for this I am grateful.”
Inspired Arts and Gifts, located at 42333 Yarrow Central Rd., will be closing on Sunday, May 15. Store hours are Thursday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All inventory will be marked down and all antique furniture along with shelving and other retail fixtures is for sale.