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Business notes: Uncle Albert’s Home Furnishings celebrates 50th anniversary

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community
Jill Ayearst, owner of Uncle Albert’s Home Furnishings, invites everyone to come check out the store’s inventory as it celebrates its 50th anniversary with a sale. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan’s Uncle Albert’s Home Furnishings on Second Street is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Owner Jill Ayearst, who has worked at the store for 37 years and owned it for 10, said the store has been operating from the same location at the corner of Second Street and Canada Avenue since it first opened.

The store is approximately 12,000 sq. ft., with 5,000 of those added on during an expansion project in 1990, that is covered in premium furniture for every room of a home.

Uncle Albert’s carries furniture from great manufacturers and suppliers, as well as area carpets, sofas, lamps, hardwood and leather pieces, accessories and more all at great prices.

“We were selling ‘Canada-made’ products even before it was cool, and it’s all still pretty much Canadian,” Ayearst said.

In celebration of its anniversary, Uncle Albert’s is currently holding a sale in which all its floor stock is being sold for up to 50 per cent off.

“The sale will continue until we get rid of our excess inventory,” Ayearst said.


The Cowichan Valley’s Blue Grouse Winery has new owners.

The Jackson family from California, who are well-known vintners around the globe, have purchased the 65-acre Blue Grouse Winery, located on Lakeside Road, from long-time owners Paul Brunner and his family.

This is not the first purchase in the region by the Jackson Family Wines corporation, which has vineyards and wineries in California, Oregon, Washington, Italy, France, Chile, South Africa, and Australia. They bought Unsworth Vineyard in 2020.

The Jackson Family Wines website said the company has been family-owned and operated since it planted its first vine in 1974.

The website said that while the family of winegrowers has expanded over the years, one thing that has not changed is its family culture.

“Wine is our passion, and from this passion comes our multigenerational vision to grow wines of distinction, do business ethically and empower our people,” according to the website.

“We see ourselves as stewards in relationship with the vineyards we call home. We work to preserve wetland and wildlife habitats, build soil health, conserve water, and reduce energy use. Because of this, nature-based wine-growing practices are a cornerstone of how we make wine to reflect the terroir of each vineyard site.”

Blue Grouse Winery, which celebrated its 30th commercial harvest in October, currently produces approximately 6,500 cases of wine each year.


Lucky Paws Pet Supply in Mill Bay has moved to another site.

The store, which offers a variety of pet foods, toys, accessories and related products for dogs, cats and small animals, is now open at 700 Shawnigan Lake Rd., Unit 105, Building #40, which is located at the south end of Shawnigan Lake Road where it meets the highway.

Manager Maria Wall said the store opened in its new location on Jan. 3

She said the new site is larger than the previous one in the Mill Bay Shopping Centre, which means Lucky Paws can hold more events and hold more inventory in the bigger space.

Wall said many of the staff from the old store made the move to the new location, and there are some new faces as well.

“Business has been good since we moved and we have had a positive response from our customers, especially those who live in this area,” she said.

“Many of our customers from the old location have also followed us here. It might be a little inconvenient for some of our customers to come here, but we now offer a delivery service that we’re sure will be popular.”

The business has another location, called Lucky Paws Pet Supply and Dog Wash at the CrossRoads Mall, just south of Duncan.

As well as pet supplies, this location has two U-Bath Dog Wash stations where pet parents can bathe their dogs.


The Cowichan Valley Regional District invites employers, workers, developers, public-service providers, and others to a series of virtual workshops to identify issues and opportunities for workforce housing in Cowichan.

The workshops are part of the process as the CVRD develops a Workforce Housing Strategy for the Cowichan region.

Economic Development Cowichan is leading the work with support from the Cowichan Housing Association.

The goal of the project is to come up with actions for increasing housing availability and affordability for the labour force.

CitySpaces Consulting will bring their extensive expertise to the work, and a project-advisory group has been formed with representation from a wide variety of sectors and groups.

“We are keenly aware that Cowichan does not have enough housing for everyone, and more people are moving here every year,” said Barry O’Riordan, manager of the Economic Development Cowichan.

“When workers are unable to find or afford housing in the region, Cowichan businesses of all sizes and sectors struggle to attract and retain staff, exacerbating the national labour shortage. The Cowichan Workforce Housing Strategy will identify actions that can be taken to address these housing issues.”

Specific workshops are being held for employers, workers, builders and developers, service providers, local government, and the public.

The workshops will take place virtually between Jan. 30 and Feb. 8.

Registration is open now at