Tanya Gruszecki re-opened her store

Tanya Gruszecki re-opened her store

Tenants displaced by downtown Nanaimo fire finding new homes

NANAIMO - Former Jean Burns Building tenants find business booming beyond downtown.

Some former tenants of the Jean Burns Building have found business booming beyond downtown Nanaimo.

The Jean Burns Building, heavily damaged by a fire March 30, awaits its fate behind blue construction fences as its owner Crankshaw Holdings, the city, and insurers wrangle over proposals and costs to clean up the site. The fire displaced about 15 tenants, most which moved to new locations and, in at least one instance, on to new beginnings.

“I retired the morning of the fire,” said Rick Smith.

The former counsellor, who spent most of his life treating people with drug and alcohol addiction, had picked up a newspaper and was walking to his office when he noticed traffic cones blocking Terminal Avenue.

“I turned my eyes to the left, had a quick look and I went across to Starbucks and started phoning everybody and said, ‘I just retired.’”

Smith, 67, plans to write spy novels and other stories, based in part on his military experience.

All shop owners praised landlord Crankshaw Holdings and property manager Rick Hyne for the support and fair rent while they were tenants.

Whispers Adult Superstore re-opened June 1 at Bowen and Northfield roads.

“Amazing” is how Julie Browett, store manager, describes business at the new location.

“We’re just getting so many new faces and stuff and business has just been really good,” Browett said.

“I do not foresee us moving at all,” Browett said. “It’s been busier since we’ve moved here. We are a destination shop, for sure, and the parking has really made a big difference for us,” Browett said.

Hired Guns Creative has a new design studio at 41 Chapel St. Cindi Cameron, owner of Luscious Me Clothing, who suffered a total loss in the fire, opens her new store on Fitzwilliam Street Saturday (July 2). Tanya Gruszecki has re-opened My Favourite Fabric Store on Wesley Street.

“Even though it’s like five minutes away, it’s just a different atmosphere,” Gruszecki said.

She said clientele in the Old City Quarter tend to spend more time in the shops and restaurants and buy more compared to the younger “college crowd” downtown.

“You can’t even compare,” she said. “We’ve only been open for six weeks, but so far it’s way better. I loved Commercial Street and if I had the opportunity one day to be back down there it’s a possibility, but I think for now our best interest is up here.”