Behold! Cook Street Village’s Best Kept Secret

Wine lovers rejoice! The craft of winemaking is alive and well in a bustling little shop in the heart of Victoria’s Cook Street Village. Dynamic and irresistibly likeable business owners Fran Kinloch and Jon Goody are the spirited duo responsible for Cook Street Village Wineworks.

Just as committed to making a quality product as they are to providing a quality experience, Fran and Jon’s shop radiates an unpretentious, welcoming atmosphere—suitable for seasoned sommeliers, but equally comfortable for those cost-conscious consumers endowed with less discerning palettes.

Cook Street Village Wineworks owners Jon Goody and Frances Kinloch

Along with a friendly vibe, you’ll find hand-picked selections of impressive wines to match sophisticated tastes, ranging moods and modest budgets.

Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur fluent in the language of tannins and textures, notes and aromas; a budding wine enthusiast practiced in the art of swishing and swirling, pairing and tasting; or a novice imbiber less familiar with the subtle flavours and finishes layered in the folds of the fermented grape—Cook Street Village Wineworks can help you find what you need (yes, some of us need wine), and I promise you’ll have fun too.

  • impress your friends with a well-stocked cellar
  • support your voracious thirst for wine at a fraction of the liquor store price
  • give the gift of the gods (nothing says I care quite like 30 bottles of wine!)

For a hint of what you can expect from the folks at Village Wineworks, check out the video above (some experiences just can’t be explained in words).

To learn more about Cook Street Village Wineworks visit their website, or stop by the shop at 347 Cook Street and say hello.


photo credit: Geoff Smith       video credit: Matteus Clement

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The Secret that Takes the Mystery Out of Back Pain

Back ache, neck pain, shoulder trouble. Sigh. If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with one, or all, at some point in your life. It’s also probably the case, the older you get, the shorter the gaps are between the troubled times.

Again, if you’re like me, you’ve also (with varying degrees of commitment) sought the help of a health care professional along the way—acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists. Perhaps a combination of all three.

The older you get, the more resigned you become. Life is painful. It’s inevitable. There’s a certain amount of back/shoulder/neck pain you’ll just have to live with. Maybe not.

Let me introduce Dr. Mark Smith of Progressive Chiropractic.

Dr. Smith is the only chiropractor in the Victoria area who uses a diagnostic technology called video fluoroscopy. It’s a real-time, low-level, digital video x-ray that allows him to see exactly what’s going on with your spine.

Well, some things you just have to see for yourself.

Check out the video above for a tour of Dr. Smith’s office—a firsthand peak into some of the technology and equipment he uses in his practice. It’s pretty cool stuff. And, as you’ll see, he’s a pretty cool guy—passionate about helping people.

Let me know what you think.

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3 Myths About Organic Landscaping You Should Ignore

Spring has sprung and your landscape is alive with possibility — burgeoning buds, blooming daffodils, blossoming cherry trees, sprouting shoots, chirping birds — all clear signs we’ve survived yet another winter. Phew!

Let’s enjoy the inspiration while it lasts. Before long, you’ll be huffing and puffing about all the work that comes with a landscape full of life – lawns to mow, seeds to sow, plants to water, trees to prune, flower beds to mulch … .

Colin Eaton, of South Island Landscaping, knows a lot about taking care of living

Certified with the Society of Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL), Colin’s landscaping business has a reputation for quality, affordable organic landscape services. That’s right, no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers here.

We sat down with Colin for a chat last week and came across 3 myths about organic landscaping we think you should ignore.

Myth #1 – Organic landscaping takes more time.  Not true. In fact, Colin and his staff work with your landscape to minimize maintenance. Landscape design, soil, mulch, garden beds, plant choices: these are all factors that affect and influence how much weeding, mowing, trimming and hedging your yard needs. Making smart choices, in-tune with the landscape, equals less maintenance. Or, more accurately, maintenance less often for the same great look.

Myth #2 – Organic landscaping is complicated. It’s not. It’s actually quite simple. Your landscape is alive! It’s a natural ecosystem full of living micro-organisms. Colin and his staff understand how to use natural products to balance and nurture your soil, and in turn, your plants, shrubs, trees and lawn. It’s not complicated. It’s about supporting what’s already happening.

Myth #3 – Organic landscaping costs more money. Again, not true. In fact, an organic approach saves you money. By creating an ecosystem that requires less maintenance, and uses organic amendments and fertilizers to enhance your landscapes living ecosystem, you stand to save all kinds of money on regular maintenance service.

To learn more about South Island Landscaping’s services:

  • One-time yard makeover magic
  • Long-term yard maintenance
  • Complete landscape design and construction
  • Projects big or small, commercial or residential

Visit their website or give Colin a call: (250) 590-5808. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo credit goes to Geoff Smith of Creative Thinking Photography.

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Who Else Wants to Save Money on Your Overhead Expenses?

You’re a small-business owner with a big-picture perspective. You know your business inside and out – what your customers like, what makes them tick, and how to position your business as the place they’ll keep coming back to, time and again, for that extra-special thing you do.

You’ve also been in the hospitality industry long enough to know that lowering your overhead costs is a clear path to increasing profits – a path that won’t require you to increase prices. This means, you get more money and your customers get the same great prices they’ve come to know and expect.

You know the corners you can cut and you know when to cut them. You’re pretty sure, if you shopped around, you could probably get a better price on some of your monthly expenses:

  • debit and credit card charges
  • garbage and recycling fees
  • phone and internet services

In fact, it’s on your list of things to do. You know, the ever-growing list that expands – indefinitely, uncontrollably, exponentially – and despite your best efforts, never gets any smaller, ever.

Meet Joe Nygren of NCo Cost Reduction. Joe makes his living lowering other people’s overhead expenses. The best part? You only pay him a portion of the money he saves you. That’s right, it’s money he saves you. Money you didn’t have until he came along and worked his magic. It’s almost like not spending money at all.

I know. You’re thinking: “Well, I’ll just go ahead and find the savings myself.” That way, you can keep it all, and really not spend any money. But will you? Find the time to find the savings, that is. Remember the list?

Okay. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, you get a handle on the list and find the time. Will you be as effective, as Joe, at finding savings? Probably not. This is Joe’s business. Finding savings is what he does. The result: Joe is much better at it than you are.

Relationships – Chances are Joe knows your supplier. Let’s call him Bob. Bob knows that Joes knows what the price should be, could be. This puts Joe in a much better position to successfully negotiate a lower price on your behalf.

Market knowledge – In the same way you know your business, Joe knows his. He knows what’s happening in the market place – trends, shifts, changes, where advantages lie. It’s the sort of knowledge one accumulates over time. Let’s call it expertise.

Analysis – Things aren’t always as they appear. Hidden fees, early cancellation charges and other fine print details can turn a great looking deal into just another problem you have to solve. Joe knows the kinds of questions you need to ask to get the results you want. He thoroughly evaluates all the information and presents you with options you can choose from.

To find out more about Joe, and how he can help reduce your overhead expenses, visit NCo Cost Reduction.

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Birthday reflections, changes on the horizon, and a big thanks for reading!

Cue soundtrack: “You say it’s your birthday… it’s my birthday too, yeah” (In case it’s not obvious, we’re imagining the Beattles birthday song here).

Yep, that’s right. The Minding Your Own Business blog turns one this month.

It seems like only yesterday we were polishing up our first post like fine silver before a fancy dinner party. Poised, nervously, on the precipice of the unknown, we gazed, with nail-biting apprehension into the vast, unfamiliar territory of the blogosphere (does anyone even use that word anymore?).

Now, here it is, a full year later, and we’re delighted, baffled, even a bit overwhelmed, by all the amazing people we’ve met.

To those of you who’ve been around since the beginning (my sister), thanks for your support and enthusiasm. For those of you just stopping by now, come on in, make yourself at home.

Astute readers might wonder if we’re rambling on about our birthday in hopes of generating well-wishes, celebrations and gifts. Not the case. We welcome the opportunity to reflect on our performance over the past year, and look forward to letting you know about a few changes (okay, let’s be honest, we’d accept cash in lieu of gifts if you offered it).

A quick recap. We started out last year with an ambitious commitment to publish one post per week about a cool and interesting business in and around Victoria. You may have noticed, as the months rolled on, and life got busier (the way life does), our consistency waned. We apologize if we let anyone down.

It turns out we’re more flexible than we thought (dare we say, fancy-free?).

Some changes are afoot for 2012.  Nothing too dramatic. You can still expect the same dry wit, thoughtful candour, honest perspective and earnest curiosity (if we do say so ourselves).

You’ll notice additional posts.  Nothing startling. A few light-hearted observations about the world, general musings, unsolicited rants – topics that have little or nothing to do with cool and interesting businesses in and around Victoria.

We no longer promise a weekly post.  It could happen, but there’s no promise.

Don’t worry.  We’ll still post about cool and interesting businesses, but expect a modicum of the unexpected mixed in for good measure.

Thanks again for your attention and interest.

We’re excited about 2012.

We see big things on the horizon (oh, maybe that’s just the Olympic mountains?).

Posted in General musings about life and things | 4 Comments

3 Things Building Houses Can Teach You About Building a Better Business

No question about it, you’re good at what you do. You’re well trained. You’ve got years of experience, and a natural gift. Not to mention, your knack for connecting with just about anyone.

It’s taken long hours, deep breathing and dedication to get this good. But now you’re ready to be great – exemplary, exceptional, extraordinary, outstanding, remarkable, unsurpassed (you get the point).

Dalton Reid, of Refine Custom Building, knows a thing or two (okay at least 3) about making good things great. Here they are:

1. Pay attention to details.   Plenty of capable folks can renovate your bathroom. But not many of them will notice your tired looking toilet bowl brush and make a special trip to the hardware store to buy a brand new one to match your shiny, freshly renovated bathroom. Dalton will. Noticing the details, and then taking the extra step, can turn ordinary work into an extraordinary experience.

2. Listen.   Your clients don’t always know what they want. Or, they might know what they want, but they don’t know all that is possible. Part of being great at what you do is listening well enough to give the client what they want, plus more. Exceeding your client’s expectations transforms a good experience into something remarkable.

3. Personalize your product.   The homes Dalton creates for his clients are customized to fit their lifestyle – what they need, what they want and how they’ll use the space. Whether it’s a cozy nook for your soaker tub, a princess bed for your daughter or a media room for the whole family, Dalton builds the space to suit his clients. Personalizing your product is another way to make good work exceptional.

You can learn more about Refine Custom Building and the work Dalton does here.

If you’ve got any tips of your own for making good work great, leave us a comment below.

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The Secret to Growing Old Gracefully

Good help.

Whether you like it or not, aging is something we all do. There’s no stopping it. We get older. Often, this process brings a host of challenges – physical, mental, social. It’s not always easy, but it’s a part of life (again, whether you like it or not).

Imagine. Your eyesight diminishes and you can’t drive anymore. Without your license, grocery shopping is difficult. Not to mention your social life – afternoon tea, lunch dates in the village, trips to the beach – without a car, your regular socializing routine is impossible. You start to feel isolated, lonely, depressed.

Or, golf is one of your favourite things. For years, you golfed with the ladies every Thursday morning. After your hip replacement surgery, you can’t keep up. You’d love to continue golfing, but you’re hard pressed to find a companion willing to golf at your pace.

Or, your spouse of 30 years has Alzheimer’s. Your children all moved to Ontario. You’re emotionally and physically exhausted. You can’t imagine how you’ll cope for another day, let alone the 5 to 10 years your husband has left to live.

These are just a few of the stories Kathy and Murray Tough, of Serenity Home Care, hear all the time. The good news is: you don’t have to do it alone. Kathy and Murray make it their business to help people live rich, full and engaged lives – no matter how old you are.

Here’s how they do it:

They customize their services to meet your needs. Serenity Home Care offers non-medical services (shopping, cooking, cleaning, socializing, exercising, transportation) for short-term or long-term, in your home – whether you live in a dwelling or a care facility.

They genuinely care about people. Yes, practical tasks like shopping and cooking matter. But, companionship is just as important. A big part of what Serenity Home Care offers is friendship – someone to share time, stories and experiences with.

They match caregivers to clients and build relationships. Companionship takes time. At Serenity Home Care, they start by connecting clients with caregivers who have similar interests. And then they make sure you get the same caregiver every time.

They know from first-hand experience.  Murray and Kathy come to the business of care providing through personal experiences with their own parents. They understand, intimately, the challenges individuals, and families, face with aging loved ones. You can tell by their approach.

Growing old gracefully means asking for help along the way. At Serenity Home Care they make it easy to get the help you need. To learn more about the services they offer check out their website.

Happy aging everyone!

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