It occurred to me the other day that the fabric of this wonderful community of ours is woven much like an artit's tapestry. Each warp and weft is unique. Though we all share the jewel which is our waterfront, we bring such diversity to what we do... for instance, we still have courageous people opening up retail locations in downtown, despite enormous purchasing pressure from the commercial areas north and south ends. Take Cheryl Calder, for instance. She lives in the tourist mecca of Collingwood, but she identified the potential in Barrie as she rented an empty store from Joyce Angeloff, and went into business selling functional Canadian items for home and garden.

Rustic & Refined is Cheryl's store. It's the one with the twig arbour entrance, just beside the floral stalwart, Harris Flowers, on Dunlop near Mulcaster. Cheryl opened her garden area this summer, capturing a delightful nook at the back of the store and applying creative vision to it. Cheryl's carrying work by local wrought iron artist Charles Zeihr, and all summer sold cedar stepping plates (for walkway or garden) hand cut at Jim McGowan's mill in Oro Township.

Cheryl also sees real opportunity in other gift stores on Dunlop St. Before opening, she visited other gift shops, identifying herself openly as a potential retailer wanting to complement what was already in the area. She's joined the ranks of Artifact (whose owner Sandy Orr led the vision in establishing Dunlop Street as a boutique mecca), Fancy That, Dreamers Rock, Newport, and The Blue Bottle in offering a shopping alternative. "We're not competitors at all," she says. "We co-operate to serve our shoppers. And we don't duplicate what we carry."

Connections. That's what it's about. Thanks, Cheryl.

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