Store owner pours heart and soul into new gallery in Port Alberni

When Erika Hansen opened the door to Soul of the Shore on Nov. 5, her dream of opening a shop of her own came true.

Soul of the Shore is a gift shop and gallery at Harbour Quay, featuring handmade crafts and spa products.

“I still can’t believe it’s real,” said Hansen.

Hansen grew up in Creston, B.C. where her family had a restaurant. She started out in the service industry, studied at university to become an English teacher, and after two years decided teaching wasn’t for her.

“This has been a lifelong journey for me,” said Hansen, who includes mixologist and entrepreneur to her background.

Hansen revived her mother’s company, Cold Mountain Spa in 2016, using a pain reliever her mother created and then adding her own blends into the mix. She now offers a whole spa line of products. “Everything I learned about coffee and tea and alcohol over the year applies to essential oils,” she said. Everything has a top, heart (middle) and base note. “The main difference is you’re dealing with scent instead of taste.

“This is where I found my niche.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced her to move indoors from farmers’ and craft markets to an online community. When the spot at Harbour Quay opened up, she made the leap to a brick and mortar storefront.

“I’ve wanted to have a shop for three years now,” she said. She moved to Port Alberni in July. She likes the walkability the Harbour Quay locations offers.

Many of the makers whose work is at Soul of the Shore come from Hansen’s online community. Some are from Port Alberni (like Askewe Wooden Things), some from elsewhere on Vancouver Island and others, such as Dragon Forge Armoury of Edmonton, are from further afield. Marianne Hansen from Indigo Sea (Erika’s mother) creates one-of-a-kind, Scandinavian-inspired fabric items. Erika Hansen has had discussions with a few artists and artisans from the Alberni Valley and surrounding region and is looking at bringing in more items.

Hansen offers curated gift boxes featuring her Cold Mountain Spa products as well as handmade items from some of her featured artists.

Hansen is celebrating her birthday this Saturday, Nov. 26 with some specials and a guest: meet maker Marianne Hansen from Indigo Sea. Marianne, an RMT, will be giving hand massages by donation, which will be going to The Attic.

Soul of the Shore is located at Unit 116-5405 Argyle St. in Harbour Quay.


Cheryl Graham has opened CG Hair Studio Supply Outlet at Harbour Quay, in unit 112 beside Soul of the Shore. Graham started her business in 2004, and in 2018 moved from Toronto to British Columbia—bringing her business with her. Since then, Graham had been selling hair care and styling products while also cutting and styling hair in her home studio.

Now located in Harbour Quay CG Hair Studio has a new home with a brand new shop and up-to-date salon furnishings.


Another relatively new business in Port Alberni is responsible for the finishing work at Soul of the Shore. Brothers Chris and Jack Lotoski own and operate D.J.C. Renovations. Chris, who moved here from Alberta, is loving life in Port Alberni.

“Jack’s been here on the Island for a while,” says Chris, who came to visit his brother from Calgary—where, he noted, it is already snowing. “And I said ‘I’m never leaving.’ I sold my renovation company and I’m never going back.”

The Lotoskis provide renovations, handyman services, flooring, decks, fences and painting work. You can reach Chris at 250-918-4543 and Jack at 250-918-5020.


The Grove–Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley Gallery has also opened at Harbour Quay, in Unit 7–5440 Argyle St. Formerly the Rollin Art Centre and gallery, the arts council had to move out of the Rollin Centre on Eighth Avenue to allow for construction of an arts-centred childcare centre. When construction is complete it will be connected with the historic Rollin House.

Until then, the City of Port Alberni has temporarily leased the former Alberni Aquarium space to the arts council, and the space opened with a new name: The Grove.

Arts administrator Melissa Martin and others are helping to revive the annual Christmas Light-Up event at Harbour Quay. The arts council used to hold its own festival of lights at the Rollin Garden. This year’s Harbour Quay Light-Up is planned for Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. (the tree will be lit at 6 p.m.). The event will feature music, pictures with Santa (bring your own camera) and shopping until 8 p.m.


Jim’s Clothes Closet at Johnston Road and Adelaide Street celebrated a grand reopening on Thursday, Nov. 17, with a ribbon cutting and some fanfare.

When Don Ferster, Drew Bradley and the crew at Jim’s celebrated their 50th anniversary a few years ago with an expansion to the sales floor, they thought that was as big as the store was going to grow.

They were wrong, Bradley said. “We’ve doubled our size, so we’ve added 2,500 square feet. Behind the scenes we’ve doubled the back office and shipping and distribution centre.”

They took over the store next door, which used to be Deb’s Fashions.

Port Alberni is the flagship store for Jim’s Clothes Closet, but there are also stores in Courtenay, Campbell River, Prince George and most recently, downtown Duncan. “To support the addition of another store plus the increased size in Campbell River we needed to increase our distribution centre in Port Alberni,” Bradley said.

“We’re having the best year we’ve had in 54 years.”


Businesses in Uptown Port Alberni will celebrate Moonlight Madness on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Shops will be open late, Santa will be at Steampunk Café and Coffee House for photos (bring your own camera) and there will be entertainment.


Naesgaard’s Farm and Market has been transformed into a Christmas Wonderland. Their sparkly, tree and decoration-filled annual display is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily at the market, 5681 River Rd. Free admission.


Coastal Community Credit Union has earned workplace culture distinction for the fourth year in a row. The CCCU, which combined all its businesses into one new facility in Port Alberni earlier this fall, was re-certified as a Great Place to Work by the Great Place to Work Institute Canada.


Congratulations to owner Susan Kozlowski and her staff at The Funk Trunk, who celebrated the store’s 16th anniversary this month. And to Louise Pearson of Finishing Touches, who held her 43rd annual customer appreciation last weekend. Chris Washington at Flandangles Kitchen and Gifts just held her store’s 42nd annual customer appreciation event last week as well.


Wynans Furniture celebrated its 67th anniversary in business. It was a bittersweet anniversary this year after the family lost their patriarch, Art Wynans, a few weeks ago. The Alberni Valley News offers our condolences to the Wynans family.


Do you have a business-related item you’d like to see included in Business Beat? E-mail your information to AV News publisher Teresa Bird at [email protected].

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Jim’s Clothes Closet general manager Drew Bradley cuts the ribbon to open the newly expanded store on Johnston Road at Adelaide Street, Nov. 17, 2022. Staff from the Port Alberni store join Bradley and City of Port Alberni councillor Deb Haggard, right, at the event. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Jim’s Clothes Closet general manager Drew Bradley cuts the ribbon to open the newly expanded store on Johnston Road at Adelaide Street, Nov. 17, 2022. Staff from the Port Alberni store join Bradley and City of Port Alberni councillor Deb Haggard, right, at the event. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)


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