Specialty store offers unique products

[From left] The Nutcracker Market assistant manager Christine Konopelski, operations manager Jennifer Konopelski and owner Elaine Steiger.

As a specialty food store featuring products made by local, home-based vendors, as well as gift and kitchen items, The Nutcracker Market offers customers more than a Christmas shopping experience; the business at 201-4741 Marine Avenue is open year-round.

“Originally, we opened as a popup for three months in October 2016,” says owner Elaine Steiger. “We had so much fun we decided to stay, and we’ve been open ever since.”

Food products include fresh pasta, artisan breads, farm-fresh eggs, sweet and savoury preserves and frozen meals. A selection of homemade soap, potholders, greeting cards, fair trade leather handbags, clothing, spa products and handcrafted jewellery highlight the available non-food items.

“Right now, we have products from 15 different Powell River businesses for sale in our store,” says operations manager Jennifer Konopelski. “It gives them a space to try out their products somewhere other than at a farmers’ market.”

Vendors change periodically, which constantly changes the look of the store and continually offers different options for regular customers.

“If someone came in two months ago, what we have today could be completely different; our products are rotating all the time,” says Konopelski. “We’re always looking for new vendors, especially food related.”

Steiger says the close access to suppliers benefits customers in many ways and adds to the personal service the store is able to provide.

“Customers can come in and request specialty items and we, or our vendors, will try to get just what the customer needs,” she says. “We also have people coming in looking for a particular type of relish, chutney or jam, which can usually be made upon request.”

In an effort to enable customers to find specialty items without having to leave town, The Nutcracker Market also sources products from Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and Sechelt Peninsula, including spices and gluten-free food products.

“Our goal is to have specialty items customers can’t find elsewhere in Powell River,” says Steiger. “We source our products as local as possible, that’s where the quality is, and also bring in oils and vinegar from Gibsons, mustards from Courtenay and pasta from Cowichan, and the wheat is actually grown in BC.”

Most of the products brought in come from small vendors within 100 kilometres of Powell River, other than certain European specialties requested by customers, such as chocolates, candies and a wide selection of products from the United Kingdom, especially during the holiday season.

“People keep telling us we are great for Christmas,” says Konopelski, “because we have lots of stocking stuffers and gift ideas.”

Offering higher-end specialty items and sourcing customer requests is an important component of the business, says Konopelski.

“Specialty orders are a big thing for us; people are welcome to call or come in and ask about anything they can’t find in town,” she says. “We try our hardest to bring things in and most of the time we are successful; this is where you shop the world locally.”

In addition to their duties as manager and owner, Konopelski and Steiger are also vendors. Konopelski sells vintage glassware and crystal through her Clutter Queens Vintage Shop; Steiger offers preserves through her line of Marigold Lane canning products and custom gifts baskets from The Basket Case.

Customers can peruse products in the store and fill a basket, or indicate how much they want to spend and staff will suggest how to personalize the basket with snacks, fresh food or other items in the store.

“Customers are welcome to bring items from outside the store to add to the basket as well,” says Steiger, “and delivery is available within the Powell River area.”

The Nutcracker Market is open from 10 am-5 pm seven days a week during the holiday season, except for Friday when the store stays open until 7 pm. Regular hours of 10 am-4 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, resume in the new year.