It was a forestry job that brought Jack Turley to Campbell River. It’s homewares, success and loyalty that have kept him here.
Hired on as engineer for what was then Fletcher Challenge, Turley and his wife Stevie packed up their lives in Duncan and relocated to Campbell River in 1988.
Three years later, the pair opened Gourmet Essentials in a small space a few blocks south of its current location on Shoppers Row. The store was modelled after a shop in Duncan that Turley says he and his wife both admired.
“We didn’t see anything else like it here,” says Turley, paving the way for Gourmet Essentials which started out as solely a kitchen store. By 2002, however, the Turleys were ready to expand and they moved Gourmet Essentials into its current home.
The shop grew to include housewares and a bed and bath section.
“The business had grown to a point where both of us could work in the store and make a living at it,” says Turley, who, after 23 years in the forest industry, left his job in order to focus more on Gourmet Essentials. At that point, Stevie opened La Tee Da a few doors down on Shoppers Row and Turley began working full-time at Gourmet Essentials.
Fast forward, and the shop now has 25 years behind it. Turley attributes Gourmet Essentials’ success to a number of things but key is his principle of trying to sell items that you cannot find anywhere else in town.
“We’ve always taken the view that we want to carry products no one else is offering, that you can come into our store and see 9,000 square feet of stuff no one else in Campbell River is offering.
“It really comes down to, if I go into another store to shop, yeah I’m looking to see what’s on their shelves but I’m also looking to see what’s not on their shelves,” says Turley, adding that he also attends trade shows in a bid to keep Gourmet Essentials current.
When they’re buying, they also keep the store’s slogan – ‘Everything to make your house a home and your home a haven’ – in mind.
“We’ve used that and lived by that since day one,” Turley says.
He also credits the staff for the store’s longevity.
“We’ve been blessed with extraordinary staff over the years and we do feel we offer exceptional customer service,” Turley says.
It’s a recipe that seems to work.
“We’ve developed a loyal customer base over the last 25 years and Stevie and I have both learned to love Campbell River and we raised both of our kids here,” he says.
To give back to the community that has given so much to them, the Turleys provide in-store gift wrapping in exchange for voluntary donations to the Campbell River Hospital Foundation. The service has generated about $1,500 each year for the non-profit foundation.
“Everybody’s going to use the hospital eventually, unfortunately,” says Turley about why they chose the Hospital Foundation.
Plus it’s a way to show a small token of appreciation.
“The town continues to support us and we’re grateful for that,” Turley says.