Hidden gems on Main Street

I had a meeting in Summerland this week. After, I wanted a bit of time to enjoy the day, so I stopped for a walk on Main Street.

I was struck by how many businesses were only open a few days a week. That inspired me to find a way to enjoy the ones that were open.

I will offer my confession first: I love a good Main Street. Small towns everywhere have a central road that offers the quintessential enterprises that showcase the town’s character.

They are the real-life version of Dr. Seuss’ Mulberry Street, full of amazing folks and incredible sights.

There are some common features, like a hardware store, a post office, and a bank. The most interesting of these is the hardware store – they can hold all kinds of nifty gizmos and brick-a-brack, ripe for the collecting.

My favourite Main Street hardware store in the Okanagan is the Home Hardware in Osoyoos. If you haven’t been, you need to put it on your summer bucket list. Plan on at least half an hour, and don’t forget to go downstairs.

I have bought charming garden ornaments, crazy socks, replica vintage hooks, kitchen tools and even hot sauce here.

Main Street is also the place where the locals hang out for coffee. My experience is that most towns have two coffee shops and maybe a diner too, to allow for the different tastes of folks in the area.

One should never miss the opportunity to hang out with those in the know.

In Summerland, I like both java joints: True Grain Bakery is a great place for artisan flours as well as a good cup of joe, and The Beanery Café is a spacious and funky spot with plenty of options (I love their ginger snaps). In Kelowna, I’m partial to Bakehouse 350. (Their apple fritters are amazing, and the lattes are made with love.)

The other thing that a classic Main Street often contains is an antique store. Once one gets to be a certain age, these are fun if only for the trip down memory lane. (If you’re younger, trust me – it’s worth humouring your relatives and tagging along; some day you will reminisce about those times wistfully too.)

Summerland has the quaint and charming Carousel Antiques. Vernon has the cavernous Distinctive Décor, full of treasures big and small (again, don’t miss taking the stairs).

My takeaway this week was small, but I shall cherish it as I do all my treasures. At Carousel Antiques, I found a vintage community cookbook, on sale for the original published price — one dollar. It’s title was
Cook Book – Tried and Tested Recipes from the Ladies of Union Hospital Area. There was a picture of the Porcupine Plains Union Hospital.

The cover was tattered around the edges, with scotch tape holding the cover on. The pages had that bluish purple ink that I remember from mimeographed documents of my early school days.

It was a fundraising effort, with ads from local businesses like SZYDLOWSKI BROS., saying “shop at our Modern Self-Serve Groceteria.”

I especially want to try the recipe for Apple Upside Down Cake, featured opposite that ad on a page splattered with drops from past efforts and having a folded corner. Tried and tested indeed.

As I drove home sipping my latte and nibbling my ginger snap, I congratulated myself on having found a new gem.

I need another cookbook like a hole in my head, but the thrill of recreating someone’s family favourite along with having supported a local business warmed my heart.

I hope you will look for hidden gems this summer as we stay mostly closer to home. Businesses of all kinds will be very happy to see us, and after so much time in isolation, craving a community, I think it behooves us to cross their thresholds.

Besides, who doesn’t need a good story to tell at the end of the day about where they’ve been and what they saw?

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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