House of Savoy Backyard Pup-up Market (Zenija Esmits)

On the cusp of Oak Bay and Victoria is a consignment store that has been run by women since 1978. 

The owners have put a massive emphasis on running their shop in a way that benefits the community around them, which is why they put on a big fundraiser for an important organization last weekend. 

House of Savoy is the oldest consignment shop in all of Greater Victoria and the current co-owners, Émilie Hamel and Ženija Esmits, have been running it for the last two years.

Most recently, they put on their second annual fundraiser for the Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society (IRSSS) which brought in $4,273 for the organization. 

“We cried happy tears,” said Hamel.

This is four times the amount of money they were able to raise at the first annual fundraiser. 

House of Savoy donates items and money to a handful of organizations that help prop up and support the community around them, but when it comes to their annual fundraising event, they chose the IRSSS for good reason. 

“At the end of the day, we are on lək̓ʷəŋən peoples territory and we want to give back somehow to that Indigenous community,” Hamel told Victoria Buzz. 

When they started out in the endeavor of running House of Savoy, the two women quickly established three ‘pillars’ of business that represent important, ingrained values to them.

“To be customer focussed, of course, being environmentally friendly was massive for us and the third being community,” said Hamel.

“We’ve been very adamant about doing community events, with community support and we’ve done a number of different ones, this being one of them,” she added. 

This year’s IRSSS fundraiser

Their ‘Backyard Pop-up Market’ took place on Saturday, July 29th in the large backyard space the Oak Bay Avenue business has, and acts as their anniversary celebration — as Esmits and Hamel took over the business in July of 2021. 

The premise of this market is to have a large selection of clothes where 100% of the proceeds go to the IRSSS and they bring in 11 local vendors and artisans, who are in most cases just starting out in order to help them grow their own businesses. 

This year the vendors included: 

The event acts as but one step in a “donation centipede,” according to Hamel. 

The consignors, or clients of House of Savoy donate any leftover items at the end of their term, then Esmits and Hamel donate through the year to organizations like the Quadra Village Community Centre, Victoria Cool Aid Society, 1UP Victoria and more.

However, some items which seem too precious to donate right away, Esmits and Hamel tuck away for their annual IRSSS fundraiser. 

This year they filled seven clothing racks with items priced at $5, $10, $25 and $50 and sold most of their collection for the charity, while the small business vendors were able to make a profit. 

After the sale

Following the House of Savoy Backyard Pop-up Market, the remaining items continue on their ‘donation centipede’ journey and will be at the Wear 2 Start pop-up sale on August 5th and 6th. 

After that the final batch of leftover clothes go to the Quadra Village Community Centre or another charity partner of theirs. 

Esmits and Hamel are already looking forward to next year’s fundraiser and hoping they can one-up themselves once again.

“Next year, I don’t know if we’ll do four-times what we raised this year,” laughed Esmits. “But we will do more for sure.”

“Any event in any community, particularly Victoria, the more often you have them, the more people are used to them and more people will come every year,” she added.

A representative of the IRSSS will be coming to the House of Savoy so Hamel and Esmits can hand off a cheque in person soon so the duo can continue to build a relationship with the integral organization.

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