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Business notes: Duncan Cobbler is now making its own sandals

What’s going on in Cowichan’s business community
Duncan Cobbler’s Kim McNish and Stephen Schellenbert hold up a pair of the new sandals the shop is custom-making for its customers. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The Duncan Cobbler, located at 291 Trunk Rd., has started making its own sandals.

Stephen Schellenbert, an employee at the shop which has been fixing footwear in the Cowichan Valley since 1972, said the Duncan Cobbler used to sell the popular Birkenstock sandals, but the shoe company no longer sells its products to repair shops.

He said the staff at the Duncan Cobbler started designing some patterns to make their own sandals, and are now custom-making sandals by customer request.

Schellenbert said the sandals the store are making have a cork-type foot bed, rubber soles and leather straps with buckles.

“They start at $145 and can go up as high as $175, depending on the style the customers want,” he said.

“We’re just getting started on making our own sandals, and we’re in the process of making a couple of pairs for customers right now. If anyone has a strap configuration that they like, drop by the shop and show us and we will see what we come up with. We appreciate your support for local business. At this time, small businesses need local customers more than ever.”


Budget Pharmacy, a new independent and locally owned drug store, will open on May 20 at 5-301 Festubert St. in Duncan.

Owner Dhaval Patel, who has been a pharmacist for nine years, was the manager of Duncan’s Wal-Mart pharmacy before deciding to open his own store.

He said he wanted to open an independent drug store so that he wouldn’t be bound to the suppliers of the major chain drug stores, and he would save on franchise fees, so he’d be able to offer the best prices in the whole Cowichan Valley to his customers.

“For example, my dispensing fee will be just $6.99, which is much cheaper than the other drug stores in the area,” Patel said.

“I’ve talked to a number of people and they are excited about that. I’m also looking forward to providing great customer service at my store, which is what pharmacy is all about.”


Countrywide Village Realty in Lake Cowichan has new owners.

Realtors Jada Forrest and Patrick Miller have taken over the business from Keith Nelson, who has operated Countrywide Village Realty since 2004, and he plans to continue to work there until he retires in a couple of years.

Miller is from Youbou and worked in the construction industry for 30 years before he decided to switch to a career in realty several years ago.

Forrest is from Lake Cowichan and is in the process of getting her Realtor’s licence.

But she is no stranger to real estate after buying several homes over the years and flipping them after carrying out upgrades and renovations on the properties.

“I’ve always been interested in real estate, so I’m very excited to have parented with Patrick to take over the business,” Forrest said.

Forrest and Miller have kept the same experienced staff in place at Countrywide Village Realty, and have plans for upgrades at the building, located at 145 South Shore Rd.

“We’re also developing a new website and upgrading our market strategies,” Forrest said.

Miller said the real-estate market in their coverage area, which includes Lake Cowichan, Honeymoon Bay, Mesachie Lake and Youbou, is very active, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic as many people want more social distancing from others.

“A lot of people want to move away from the cities and large population centres to smaller areas,” he said.

“Last month, I sold a man in his 70s a home in the area because he wanted to move out of his apartment in Victoria that has 682 tenants and just two elevators. There’s also a growing market for young people who realize that they can work from home and don’t need to live in the big cities anymore.”

Miller said he’s also excited to take over Countrywide Village Realty with Forrest.

“We’re local Realtors who serve locally,” he said.

“We love the people and what we do.”


The Matraea Centre in Duncan celebrated its 10th Anniversary in April.

During those 10 years, the Matraea Centre has housed midwifery services that have grown significantly within the community, and is now delivering more than 60 per cent of births in the Cowichan Valley.

The centre is the long-term home of naturopathic physicians Dr. Rikst Attema and Dr. Jenna Waddy, each dedicated to holistic excellence in women’s and family health care.

While maintaining an over-arching commitment to family and women’s health within a multidisciplinary context, the Matraea Centre has expanded to include a “whole of life” definition of health, and is actively building a base of services to support every aspect of family life.

“We are deeply grateful to the Cowichan Valley for its support and loyalty to the midwives and practitioners who have contributed to the centre’s leading role in the provision of superior family and women’s health services,” the staff of the centre said on its website.


Trades and applied technology programs at Vancouver Island University can help students enter rewarding, high-paying careers after as little as nine months of school.

Those interested in learning more about which careers may be a good fit can come to VIU’s first-ever, free Trades and Applied Technology Virtual Expo on May 27.

The university has 17 different options to choose from, ranging from carpentry and heavy mechanical trades, to culinary arts and hairdressing, to office administration and information technology.

At the expo, prospective students will be able to connect with faculty in each program — and in some cases students as well — learn about funding opportunities and find out what it’s like to be a student at VIU.

Students can also learn more about how trades programs are delivered at VIU’s Nanaimo, Cowichan and Powell River campuses.

The event is hosted via Pheedloop, an online event platform that allows users to scan the different program booths and connect easily with those they want to engage with further, much like walking into an in-person conference room.

The idea for the event has been percolating for a year, after an in-person open house event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had a lot of interest in the event that was scheduled for last spring, so we wanted to bring it back as soon as we could; which is being made possible this year thanks to some new virtual software,” said Jason Lloyd, acting associate dean of the faculty of trades and applied technology.

“Prospective students can check out all the programs in one place, connect one-on-one with faculty from those programs, view a live presentation, get their questions answered and learn more about VIU as a whole.”

To learn more or register, visit the Expo’s Eventbrite homepage at