old and new

When disaster strikes: Two small business owners rebound from tragedy

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By Jenny Lee, Vancouver Sun February 23, 2014

Sometimes the unthinkable happens.

Kelly Oswald’s Whistler store burned down while she was away in Mexico leading her annual retreat on how to live a more peaceful life.

“Petty Ironic.” said Oswald whose spiritual gifts, clothing and services store, The Oracle, was hit with “a double whammy” last November.

“The fire on the Friday night took the building out — the electrical, fire alarms… everything,” she said. No one was hurt. “My amazing staff were able to salvage stuff and clean up. We were confident we could reopen.”

But a few hours later, a hot spot reignited the fire, dashing earlier hopes of rising from the ashes. “The second fire killed it. We’re still out.”

The fire affected six neighbouring businesses as well as Oswald’s 700-square-foot store.

In the meantime, rather than twiddle her thumbs while waiting for the Whistler location to be rebuilt, Oswald and her husband, James, are opening a new 1,000-square-foot store in North Vancouver where they have a new grandchild. “We look for silver linings.”

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Two Whistler Companies Finalists in Awards

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By Brandon Barrett, The Pique Newsmagazine

A pair of homegrown Whistler companies will vie for top honours at this month’s BC Small Business Awards after being named as a Top 5 finalist in two separate categories.

Kahuna Paddleboards, Canada’s largest stand-up paddleboard manufacturer, is up for an international trade award, while The Oracle, which offers unique handmade gifts and spiritual and holistic services, is competing for best workplace. The Oracle was also named a semi-finalist in the Best International Trade and Best Employer categories in December.

The Oracle is up for the Best Workplace award, which honours businesses that provide a happy and healthy work environment for staff.

The Oracle regularly gives back to the community through fundraisers, and works directly with the artisans that handcraft the store’s products in Mexico and Indonesia. The business also donates raised funds and a portion of profits to two social programs in those countries that support women and children in need.

Oswald could not be reached for comment by press time.