New signs went up last weekend at Artisan Square to point the way to acos, a small but well-stocked store located a few steps down and around the corner from The Office. Acos is an acronym that stands for arts, crafts and office supplies. The store is the newest venture of Theresa Anderson and Maggie Hocking. It opened on November 12 and a grand opening month draw will be held on December 24. Anderson said, "Our prizes include ski tickets to Cypress, dinner theatre tickets, an acos gift certificate, chocolates from Cocoa West, a $100 gift certificate for IRIS, the visual group, and more. We'll hold the draw on Christmas Eve at 3 p.m. so that people have a chance to come in and collect their prizes before Christmas." There is still a chance to enter the draw this week - the store is open from Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
This is not the first time acos has given away prizes. In November, islander Shelly Hymel came into the store looking for a gift for her husband who is a painter. The display of one-of-a-kind hand crafted wooden pens caught her eye. Hymel left without purchasing the pen but she entered a draw organized by acos and nine other retailers on Bowen Island. Hymel proved to be the lucky winner and was pleased to learn that her prize was one of the pens she had admired plus a gift certificate to be redeemed at acos. Hymel promptly picked another one of the wooden pens: a sketching pencil that will end up under the Christmas tree.
Anderson and Hocking have been on Bowen Island since 2008. At that time, Anderson had an office above Artisan Eats. She said, "I have a business in marketing and advertising and at one point I realized that there are some things I couldn't get on the island. There seemed to be a need for local artists and crafters." She added, "It made sense to consolidate the office into a space behind the store."
"Theresa is always generating new ideas," said Hocking who is researching prices and new products while Anderson is running the store. Both are excited about their new venture and bring out some of their new products: erasable pens that come in purple, red, black, green and blue and brush pens that are suitable for calligraphy. The store also carries locally made products, for instance Seriously Play craft kits and cards created by local artists.
"We are like kids in a candy store," says Hocking. She pointed to a drawing that sits beside the cash register. It's a fairy tale scene with the caption: Maggie's art shop. "This was done by a friend about 20 or 25 years ago," Hocking said. "We both started out as small town girls. Then we worked in downtown Toronto. Theresa was a director in a large advertising firm before she was 30 working with clients such as Cocoa Cola, BC Lotteries, Proctor and Gamble and others. Then she came out to Vancouver and started her own company. Hocking obtained her degree in French and worked as an ESL teacher for over 10 years. Anderson and Hocking met in Vancouver and then moved to Bowen Island. Hocking said, "We've both come from a crazy hectic lifestyle and really enjoy the change of pace."
Anderson sent out a flyer before opening the store to ask for input. She said, "Most of the people who responded were artists, they have been very enthusiastic and supportive." Anderson also wants to focus on service. "We've approached some businesses to let them know that we can bring in office supplies," she said. "If we get more businesses, then we can get better prices." For instance, acos can stock printer cartridges. Anderson said, "And if you need to print something and run out of ink, even on a Sunday afternoon, call me and I'll get it."
Anderson took a course on mobile marketing and is excited to implement what she has learned for acos along with her other clients. One of the initiatives she has started is a SMS campaign where customer sent text messages to enter a draw. She said, "I want to do that on an ongoing basis and build a network of customers." Anderson sees the opening of the store as an opportunity to get connected to people on Bowen Island.