Even though the retail location for Cookies of Course used to be at the Harbour Centre in Vancouver, it has been regarded as a Bowen business by many. That is because its owner, Alan Boysen, and his family have been an active part of the community and his cookies and cookie batter have sweetened the deal for many local fundraising efforts.
As of last week, the Cookies of Course counter at the Harbour Centre is closed as tenants of the mall were given notices due to upcoming renovations. And even though Boysen appealed this decision (he was told that the mall manager didn't want independents any more and, if he wanted to move back in, he would have to spend a large sum on his unit), he sees both upsides and downsides in his move to a new warehouse location. "I have been [at the Harbour Centre] since 1984," he said. "Getting 'reno-victed' means I lose my income, have to lay off staff and miss interacting with my customers. On the positive side, I no longer have to deal with a landlord that has been hopeless as a manager of a retail mall."
Boysen will continue to run the business from a warehouse, focusing on wholesale. About his best-selling cookies, he said, "Chocolate chip is by far the most popular but gaining in popularity is the Anzac Biscuit (Australia and New Zealand's national cookie). The rice-flour chocolate chip and vegan organic chocolate chip are also becoming really popular. [Bowen Islanders] can see and taste some of the flavours at the Snug, Cocoa West and Tir-na-nOg shows as well as at the Bowen Building Centre."
In addition to delivering to Bowen shops, Boysen has donated his goods to lots of Bowen non-profits, among them Tir-na-nOg, BICS, and IPS. "Look for a pail of batter at the CAWES event that is coming up," he said. "I certainly plan to continue supporting Bowen events and am launching a fundraising program to support island non-profits."
Boysen says that he is making it easy for islanders to benefit. "Essentially there is a referral fee where I deliver right to the home after an order is placed on my fundraising page at www.cookiesofcourse.ca. It's designed to be simple to reduce the efforts of the volunteers," he explained. "A coordinator confirms with me that a non-profit would like to participate, then they contact their membership (usually via email) to inform them about the program. I offer 20 per cent for the first six weeks, then 10 per cent for repeat orders. Every three to four months, I mail a cheque to the group. Since I will be coming to Bowen for deliveries, there is not going to be any delivery fee."
Boysen, who still owns a home on Bowen but currently lives in Vancouver with his wife, Susan McLaren, says that he looks for any excuse to visit friends on the island, including delivering cookie batter. "We left the island because Susan is also working full time in town. The house was too big and both our sons have left the nest. Frankly, Susan has mobility issues due to her polio and walking on and off the ferry was taking its toll, physically as well as on the pocket book," he said.