After years of running retail businesses around her hometown of Victoria, one woman and her husband decided to bet on themselves and open a business venture of their own in the form of Esquimalt’s new Warm Gift Shop.
Nestled in the former LifeLabs location of Place Valentine on the corner of Head Street and Esquimalt Road, Leah Davis and Peter Gardner found the perfect place to start their business.
“This [retail] space came up for rent in September…We had holidays booked to go to Japan and Peter came and checked it out two days before we left,” Davis told Victoria Buzz.
“When we got back we put an offer in — so it happened very quickly, but it all worked out.”
Davis says the idea of going into business for herself had always been something she had thought of, but had never been serious about until this opportunity arose.
When the space in Esquimalt, her new home, became available, she took it as a sign.
“We actually bought a place out in Esquimalt in mid-2019 and we love living here,” Davis said.
“We daydreamed over the years about what would be the best spot and, I mean, living in Esquimalt we have almost everything we need here, except there was no shopping.”
“There’s no gift stores, nowhere to really get a card other than maybe the dollar store,” she added.
The duo frequent the Esquimalt Farmers Market to feel a connection to their community and the makers that call their community home. This also played a role in helping them realize that something like Warm Gift Shop is needed in the Victoria satellite.
“The amount of people who come out and support the community and how many great vendors there are down there, there is just such a perfect market of people in Esquimalt.”
When it comes to the wares they offer in Warm Gift Shop, Davis said she wanted to be unique and she wanted the products they sold to reflect her life and her relationship with her husband.
“We love to travel, we went to Japan in September, we went to the UK and have done a lot of travelling. Whenever we travel we often try to find locally made goods wherever we are,” Davis explained.
“We just sort of acquired a house full of things that we’ve acquired that we bought supporting other makers from all over the world, so we were pretty excited to reach out to a lot of them.”
She said Warm Gift Shop features a lot of locally made goods as well but their focus is bringing amazing makers’ wares into the city that they want people to know about.
Some examples of this is that they carry Anchored coffee from Nova Scotia, blankets made in the UK and really nice Japanese stationery, to name a few of their offerings.
“We love to say handmade from all over,” Davis told Victoria Buzz.
Davis is a local maker herself and finds extreme joy and peace in crafting handmade ornaments year-round that can be found in the shop.
“There’s nothing like making Santas in the July heatwave,” she laughed.
Warm Gift Shop has been open for one week and the owners have been settling into the community graciously as people come by to check them out and welcome them.
People have been so warm to them, Davis says the reception of the shop has blown her away.
She says that as soon as their shop was posted onto the extremely active ‘Esquimalt Community Connection’ Facebook page, everyone wanted to stop by.
“People have just been so excited. I would say that every one-in-three people come in and tell us that they saw us on Facebook.”
“Everyone is stopping by to say hello. Maybe they’re just out and about, going to Subway, or Tim Hortons, or just out for a walk and it’s been fun to just see how many people come in and recognize us from that page,” Davis remarked.
The shop is open seven days a week and has an online store that is fully functional for those who can’t make it into the store.
Warm Gift Shop is located at 890B Esquimalt Road, and they’re open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.