Cafe Guido & Co brought a touch of small town charm to the big city through their North Island inspired pop-up shop.
Davida K. Hudson, co-owner of Cafe Guido & Co, said after consistently hearing how impressed visitors are by locally created goods and art, she wanted to show off the North Island on a larger stage.
She decided to host a pop-up shop, a temporary storefront designed to create awareness in a new area and with new customers, in Vancouver.
Hudson said she wanted to let people know that “even in rural centres like Port Hardy, we still have culture – we still have quality, and we still have art.”
She chose the Little Mountain Shop, in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Vancouver, to host the pop-up shop event which she titled “Hometown Love” during the week of July 11 to 17.
Hudson said they called the event Hometown Love because “we all tend to hold a special place in our hearts for our home town and even if we move there is still something that draws us to it.”
Little Mountain Shop’s windows were transformed with Hometown Love branding and map decals of Vancouver Island featuring a little heart over Port Hardy.
The event was set up so precisely that many passersby weren’t aware it was a temporary store.
“We just tried to bring a nice representation of what someone would find if they came to the North Island,” said Hudson.
They brought a selection of books, art, clothing and some island vendors like Muscles and More Pottery – all things that represented the North Island.
The pop-up shop also prominently featured Drift t-shirts and sweatshirts with the phrases “Party Hardy” and “Take Me to the West Coast”.
As Cafe Guido & Co includes four businesses under one roof ( Cafe Guido, The Book Nook, West Coast Community Craft Shop, and the clothing brand Drift), Hudson had a wide variety of things to showcase during the pop-up.
“We also took travel brochures and information to encourage people to come visit us,” Hudson said, explaining they had a mix of people come into the pop up “who had been here before, were thinking of coming here, or were uncertain of where Port Hardy was.”
Hudson added many people who stopped by the shop were people who felt a kinship with the island.
“What I discovered is that island people are very true blue whether they are from Nanaimo, Victoria, Duncan, or Port Alice they are island people,” she said.
What surprised her the most was the support they received from back home. Hudson noted the response from people who were “cheering us on locally was really neat – they were excited and sharing it with their friends down in the mainland.”
Hudson said while the event was a success, it was a lot of work, and she is not sure if she would do the exact same thing again, but “would certainly encourage other people to consider entering into different markets.”