Jennifer Norn, owner of Jowseys Furniture and delivery driver Renaldo Benetti pose with a box of donations for the food bank collected in lieu of delivery fees for Jowsey’s 74th anniversary in June 2021. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

BIZ BEAT: New business in Port Alberni born from home renovation project

Distillery opening on Johnston Road


Alberni Valley News

What started as a search for some furniture during a home renovation has evolved into a new business for a local couple.

Daniel Eichstadter and Genevieve Huneault were renovating a room in their Port Alberni home and wanted some character pieces to finish it off.

“We refinished a couple of dressers and they turned out really well,” says Huneault. “Family and friends said ‘you should sell these’.”

And Redo Robin was born. The couple searches out well-made older furniture pieces “needing love” from antique shops, estate sales and second-hand stores. They are drawn to mid-century modern styles.

“We try to look at the potential of what they could be,” says Huneault. “It’s exciting seeing something on the verge of going to the landfill and giving it a new life for someone else.”

And that attitude speaks to the couple’s values of environmental consciousness, sourcing local supplies and reducing waste.

As well, they enjoy learning the origin story of the pieces and honouring the maker in the refinish, trying to preserve the original wood finish if possible. And they add their own stamp – literally – by imprinting a robin inside a drawer or door of every piece.

The busy couple (Eichstadter is a conservation officer, Huneault works for the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada and Social Root Consulting) operate the business on the weekends, using a workshop in their garage. Eichstadter has a passion for the work of refinishing.

“I worked with my dad on renovations and projects for a long time,” says Eichstadter. “I love doing my own construction and finishing work. I am not satisfied until it’s just right.”

See some of their completed pieces at


Antidote Distillery is the newest name on the craft liquor landscape in the Alberni Valley. Owned by Nilo and Dr. Marili Du Plessis, the new distillery will open shop in the new building being constructed at the corner of Johnston Road and Adelaide Street. The distillery will include a gastro pub/cocktail lounge, says Nilo, who already has two unique gins in the works for launch later this summer.

“Our fermentables all come from local and B.C. agriculture,” says Nilo. “We have teamed up with some really cool farmers in Port Alberni grains, grapes and fruit. And we have teamed up with some community groups for hand-foraged botanicals. We are creating something truly Port Alberni.”

While not everything can be grown or sourced here in the Valley, Nilo says they are keeping their suppliers as close to home as possible.

“It’s Port Alberni, then Vancouver Island and then B.C., and it stops there,” he says.

The couple came to Port Alberni four years ago from South Africa where Nilo owned three restaurants and worked in a winery and studied winemaking.

“We love it here and have decided to settle here and open a business,” says Nilo who will manage the distillery. His wife will continue her medical practice.

To keep up on the progress at Antidote, check them out at or follow them on Facebook.


RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) is marking their 75th year in Port Alberni, but the bank has had a presence in the Valley for much longer. The Port Alberni branch opened as a sub-branch to Alberni on July 10, 1909. It became independent on July 10, 1910. The branch closed in November 30, 1942 and reopened July 25, 1946. In 1971, the branch expanded and has remained at their location on Third Avenue ever since.

Drop by the branch on Thursday, July 29 for a cupcake and to enter to win a door prize. As part of their active support of the community, the celebration will include a donation to a local non-profit organization.


The Uptown Market is open on Wednesday nights again this summer. Stop by Third Avenue between Argyle Street and Angus from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Vendors and local stores are open during the market. Come by and enjoy the music, the food and the booths.


To celebrate their 74th anniversary in June, Jowsey’s offered free local delivery for a week in exchange for a donation to the food bank. They had a generous response from their customers and will deliver the box of donated items for distribution through the Salvation Army.


Sechart Lodge has been renamed Broken Islands Lodge under new owners Phil and Shannon Williams from Cowichan Valley and Shannon’s parents Arnie and Janet Melissen of Pitt Meadows.

Long-time managers Gord and Nancy will continue to run the lodge.

The lodge was previously owned by Mike Surrell of Lady Rose Marine Services.

Teresa Bird is the Alberni Valley News publisher. Do you have a business tip to include in her monthly Business Beat column?

E-mail Teresa at

Alberni Valley News


The Royal Bank of Canada, pictured here on Third Avenue in 1950, is celebrating 75 years in the Alberni Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY RBC ROYAL BANK)

Jennifer Norn, owner of Jowseys Furniture and delivery driver Renaldo Benetti pose with a box of donations for the food bank collected in lieu of delivery fees for Jowsey’s 74th anniversary in June 2021. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Daniel Eichstadter and Genevieve Huneault of Port Alberni are creating new furniture from old with their new business, Redo Robin. (TERESA BIRD/ Alberni Valley News)