How a local tapped into a very different business idea to support their life in the mountains
By Alyssa Noel (Rev.Aug 24 2021)
There is one small catch to fulfilling your dream of calling Bridge River Valley home: most people need to find a way to support themselves. While that continues to become a more attainable prospect with flexible work-from-home policies at many workplaces, there’s also boundless opportunity for good ol’ fashioned entrepreneurship too.
Sharron Elliott and her partner had been had been travelling up to the area from Vancouver Island when, in 2017, they decided to purchase a second home in Bralorne.
“I have a place on Vancouver Island,” she says. “Because of COVID, this has become the main residence this year.”
After selling her island-based traffic control business and taking a year off to relax, Sharron started to explore the idea of opening a market, filled with items ranging from food necessities to gifts and tourist souvenirs. The idea wasn’t to duplicate items on offer at the general store, but rather complement them. On the Fly Market officially opened just before Thanksgiving last year.
She learned a lot in the first year, including just how much people need to be caffeinated.
“A lot of people don’t care if they have anything else but coffee,” she says. “In the first year we weren’t selling coffee and people wanted it—it was 100 kilometres away to get a coffee.”
In addition to things like eggs, milk, and butter, she started carrying unique, handcrafted items from around B.C.
“The artisans were needing a place to put their stuff at the same time,” she adds.
As a relative newcomer to the remote area, the store had an added bonus for Sharron: it introduced her to locals and provided a point of connection.
“I’ve gotten to know a substantial amount of people in the area just with the store, whereas before I didn’t know a lot of people,” she says. “We’d come up here and do our own thing.”
To supplement her income, Sharron still takes on remote consulting and traffic planning work and the combination with the store allows her to live the life she wants.
“People dream of living up here, but they feel like they can’t do it,” she says. “My thing is if you want to be here, you have to make a living, and if you have an idea, you have to try.”