A unique part of Old City Quarter Nanaimo is the Fitzwilliam Gate and Heritage Mews area.
The pair of arcades is around the corner from one another, connected by a path, located along Fitzwilliam Street between Selby Street and Wesley Street.
Liberty Eileen Harakas, proprietor of Lobelia’s Lair Metaphysical Treasures, has been at Heritage Mews for 12 years and at Fitzwilliam Gate for three.
“It’s such a wonderful community,” she says of the two. “Merchants and businesses support each other and we get lots of neighbourhood people through; lots of tourists through from all parts of the Island, across Canada, globally, so really it’s a lovely experience and very much a family-oriented area.”
There isn’t any other place Blue Poppy Garden Gallery owner Kim McNutt would rather be.
“I love the little courtyard and the charm factor,” McNutt says. “I’m not a mall person so this appeals to me way more. I love all the unique, quirky little shops; it’s something different.”
Like Harakas, McNutt says the sense of community is fabulous and that is a reason she chose Heritage Mews.
“I love the other shop owners and we all work together; it’s definitely a community,” says the Blue Poppy Garden Gallery owner.
Russ Morland runs The Electric Umbrella tattoo & gallery in Heritage Mews and echoes everyone’s sentiments.
“So far we have been treated with respect from all the other local businesses,” Morland says. “There is a sense of community here for sure. I feel that it needs to be modernized a little and maybe needs some more attractions and a facelift in some ways but for the most part it’s awesome.”
Artzi Stuff on Wesley Street technically isn’t located in Heritage Mews but owner Tanya Streeter Wilson says the sense of community still extends to her.
“Even though we’re mostly stuck in our shops all day long, we’ll still chat on the sidewalk and get together sometimes to try and plan events and everybody’s so supportive,” Streeter Wilson says. “If there’s some sort of problem, your neighbour is there to help out.”
Louise Whyte is a sales associate at My Undies at the very front of Fitzwilliam Gate and is happy about the store’s locale.
“We really love this location. The historic aspect of this location, the buildings and the atmosphere,” says Whyte. “It’s kind of funky and has that boutique-style atmosphere as well and there is a sense of community here where everybody tries to help each other out. We all support each other within the framework of this area.”