A new pop-up store in Mariners Park is hoping to bring in enough customers to develop a sustainable space to provide hands-on training opportunities for people seeking work in the retail business.
The Trading Coast Store is run by the Hecate Strait Employment Development Society in partnership with Ecotrust Canada.
“Our goals at Hecate Strait are to support people to succeed at work and help to create a strong local economy,” Shauna Wouters, chief administrative officer for Hecate Strait, said.
Wouters said they heard from employers and businesses that locals need better training to take on customer service roles, and that micro-businesses need opportunities to get their products to the market.
“We see the Trading Coast Store, an employment social enterprise, as a solution to these challenges. If the pilot is a success, you can expect to see the Trading Coast grow and become a permanent retail space in the city,” Wouters said.
If all goes well with the pilot project in August, they plan to extend the store’s operations into the fall to run a training program with those seeking work.
“Mock interviews, conversations, and transactions are completely different than interacting with a real person,” Tyler Portelance, one of the trainers who focuses mainly on customer service, said.
Portelance said they are hoping to take workers beyond the simple “hello, how are you?” and develop their knowledge about Prince Rupert to provide tourists with a more positive customer service experience.
“We want [the trainees] to guide people around the city in an accurate manner and know their city enough to get a sense of the things that are happening here,” Portelance said.
The trainees will also do hands-on inventory handling, set up displays, create graphics and other marketing material, learn the P.O.S. system, and how to handle payments.
The Trading Coast Store is open for three more days in August during cruise ship days to see how viable the project is.
Currently, 11 local Prince Rupert artists and designers, plus one from Kitimat, have submitted their items for sale from clothes, quilts to paintings.
Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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