Parrywinkle, November 10, 2016

In last week's column, you may recall that I wrote about big box stores and my aversion to shopping in general. As well as the Hudson Legion's ongoing Poppy Campaign leading up to Remembrance Day being saluted worldwide Friday, November 11.

This week dear readers, and just by happenstance, there’s more on The Legion which hosted its Remembrance Day Dinner this past Saturday at the Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre followed by the Annual Parade along Main on Sunday. As well as another local retailer, much different this time, celebrating its 30th anniversary with a big party bash to which all are invited on Saturday, November 19.

And where, to be honest, I have always found shopping a pleasure. Particularly when I'm looking for exquisite presents for my beautiful Sunshine and dear friends any time of year that always come in their distinctive signature wrapping.

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AMAZING ALENA KIRBY – “So what's so extra special about a 30th anniversary, apart from the obvious reasons?” you might be asking yourself. In a nutshell, because it's no secret that since the 1980s when spending was big, retail has been a tough industry in which to survive.

And that between difficult economic times and fierce competition coming from the emergence of big box stores that have been sprouting up like mushrooms close by, the small local, family-operated business has become an endangered and almost extinct species.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

In front of their festively-decorated fireplace at their eponymous boutique, Alena Kirby and her daughters Stefanie and Christine Zigby, are looking forward to welcoming the community to their 30th anniversary celebration.

Well, I'm pleased to report, not so of the beautiful and eponymous Alena Kirby Boutique on Route Harwood in Vaudreuil-Dorion specializing in giftware, décor, fashion products, and much more. Established by Alena and her husband, Stan, in 1986 and still run by the couple with their two daughters, Christine and Stefanie Zigby. Together with an incredible staff that they say is like their very own extended family.

I popped by the boutique earlier this week to learn more about this remarkable family, and was fascinated to learn that Alena was actually born and raised in Hudson, has deep roots in the community, and has always wanted to make her life and living in her home town. And, as she told me, “For me it’s about family, community, and loving what you do.”

With their mom, a creative type and entrepreneur at heart, her daughters told me they have very early memories of Alena leaning over a kiln making ceramics in the basement to sell to local merchants. And that when they became school aged, while Alena got back into the workforce managing Hudson’s former Christmas Shop on Main Road, it wasn’t long before she decided to branch out on her own. And that, with the support and financial know-how of Stan, a business partnership was formed.

Christine came on board full-time in 2001 and, over the years, has grown into a tremendous leader and business woman. More recently, Stefanie joined the team and has become integral to the store’s marketing and social media presence. Of working with family Alena laughs, “It isn’t always easy! But I can’t even imagine a greater joy.”

Adds co-owner Christine, “This milestone is important to us and, we feel, to the industry. We’re hoping that it celebrates the possibility that with the right concept and community support, an independent boutique can survive and prosper. Even in a very difficult climate. And this is our way of showing our appreciation to all who have supported the boutique over the years.”

Well, with the right formula, passion, and commitment, you gals and guy are living proof that it can. And a big bravo!

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ALL INVITED - As for that celebratory 'big bash with a carnival-like setting' complete with gourmet tastings, food truck, product demonstrations, and a plethora of door prizes and promotions and to which everyone is invited, it's on Saturday, November 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 3200 Route Harwood and hope to see you there.

After all, before we know it, it will be time to be buying holiday gifts. And unlike last year - and many more before that I should add despite the best intentions - I really don't want to be standing in line with a bunch of other guys who share my 'love' of shopping with the clock ticking down to Christmas Day!

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A SPECIAL SALUTE - Not sure what those aforementioned tastings will comprise - but sure to be exquisite à la Alena - I can tell you that the roast beef cooked and served up with Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings by manager, Joan Hughes, and her team at the Legion dinner on Saturday night was an unqualified success.