It was a big adjustment when Amber Kennedy made the move from Haida Gwaii to Port McNeill.
“My kids went from a school of 28 people to a class of 28,” said Kennedy. The family moved to Port McNeill when Kennedy’s husband found work on the North Island. “But it’s still a nice small town feel here,” she added.
Kennedy has since put down roots in the community, owning East of Java at 584 Broughton Blvd in Port McNeill for going on six years.
East of Java is a quirky gift shop with a long history in Port McNeill, as it was previously owned by Colleen Kostyshyn for around twenty years.
“I knew that I wanted to be self-employed and I just fell in love with the store,” said Kennedy. “I was talking to Colleen one day and found out she wanted to retire and it just went from there.”
Kennedy said the biggest change she made since owning the store was moving to a new location. She added about 1000 square feet when she moved from the previous location by the drugstore to her current storefront in Pioneer Mall, allowing her to store more items. “It’s a better location for exposure,” said Kennedy. “I love everything in the store, I have to love it to bring it in – quality is the most important thing to me.”
She added one of her biggest priorities is that anything she imports has been fairly traded and ethically produced.
East of Java stocks a wide variety of unique gifts, baby items, clothes, oils, local art and so much more.
“We have functional items for the family and not just giftware, so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for,” said Kennedy. “We have a heavy tourist season here but I rely on local customers too because the store is open all year round.”
Kennedy hopes people who have never been in the store before, stop by to check it out. “You don’t know what’s here until you come and have a look,” she laughed.