Johnson: Downtown revitalization enters third phase

Please remember to come on downtown and keep supporting Bernard Street businesses between St. Paul and Ellis.

Another section of Bernard Avenue is about to become beautiful, as the works crews have just started the third phase of the revitalization work in the block between St. Paul and Ellis.

As it’s a fairly small section, the disruption to traffic flow is minimal, so please remember to come on down and keep supporting the businesses in this block. This section is expected to be totally beautified by the end of November.

I discovered a delightful corner “pocket neighbourhood” this week when I strolled over to the corner of Pandosy and Lawrence.

This area is just thriving with unique businesses: Duncan’s Bistro on one corner, Pulp Fiction Cafe on the other, Olive & Elle’s gorgeous homewares shop on another and a new arrival, Fusion North Boutique, on the fourth corner at Pandosy.

Charlene Hall, owner of Fusion North, tells me that she opened three months ago and is really happy to be downtown. She has another shop in Sun Peaks, but decided to open here as well. Her charming shop features her own clothing line of soft, easy styles in cotton jersey and silk/cottons. She also carries B.C. Designer Gilmour, Leopards & Roses (designed in Canada, made in Nepal) and Canadian-designed fair trade lines Pure and Neon Buddha.

She is such a dynamo that she also makes her own jewelry line, and it’s lovely. While browsing in her shop, I discovered the Kelowna-made bath and beauty line Barefoot Venus, a Kelowna-made greeting card line, and some absolutely adorable baby shower baskets from Diaper Designs by Debra.

A little north on Pandosy, just past Olive & Elle, is another new downtown addition, Duke & Duchess, at 1579 Pandosy. The owners of this new hot spot are Cassie Bonthoux and James Nelson. Both grew up in Kelowna, then moved to Edmonton for several years.

When they moved back to Kelowna, they missed the variety of shops in Edmonton, so decided to open their own downtown.

Their goal was to create a shop with reasonable prices that would appeal to a wide demographic—a place with “something for everyone.” They’ve succeeded admirably.

Their upscale, urban store has a very on-trend feel with wood floors and exposed brick walls. Their T-shirts run from $24.99 to $60, their hoodies from $60 up. Some of their top-selling lines are Beautiful Disaster, BB Dakota, Mafioso, Crooks & Castles and True Religion (don’t you just love these funky names?).

They also have some pretty little bikinis, and lots of cool gear for the guys—like Roar shirts, T-shirts from Ephin & SDK (made in Surrey) and their own line of ball caps. Their jean selection is amazing too, with lines like Levis, G Star and Laguna Beach, and their jean prices start at a very reasonable $70. They feature a really unique line of jeans which are made in Canada, called Naked & Famous.

Some of the other businesses in this unique pocket neighbourhood are Frock Clothing Co., Full Moon Jewellery, L’Amore Bridal, Wasabi Restaurant—it’s just overflowing with creative energy.

This foray was a good reminder for me that, when exploring our multi-faceted downtown, stepping off Bernard and walking a block or two in either direction can lead to lots of new adventures.

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