Rik Abel has opened Rik’s Picks, a vintage record shop on Johnston Road. (TERESA BIRD / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses get innovative during pandemic

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Local businesses didn’t let a pandemic keep them from generously supporting the community during the holiday season. It’s another great reason to shop local. Be sure to let local businesses like these ones know you appreciate their generosity.

Sproat Lake Landing sought to give back over the holidays with a generous $25,000 donation to the Bread of Life.

“We are thankful for the support the community has shown Drinkwaters Pacific Grill over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ross Mitchell, president and CEO of Sproat Lake Landing. “With this donation we hope to help those who need it most during these challenging times.”

John Edmondson, board member at Bread of Life, says the donation caught them off guard.

“We were pleasantly stunned by the size of it,” says Edmundson. “The board has put the funds aside and is discussing how it can be used for a significant way that has an impact long term.”

The pandemic sparked some innovation at Sproat Lake Landing. While Della’s Café and Gift Shop have remained open to the public, Drinkwaters served only a subscribed “Stirling Bubble” of customers who supported the restaurant under strict protocols in 2020. Mitchell says they will start the 2021 spring season the same way, hopeful to expand the bubble as the year progresses. Learn more at www.sproatlakelanding.com.


Sean Parker of Sunlife Financial donated $2,000 to Kuu-Us Crisis Society during a year when there has been an increased need for their services. advisor.sunlife.ca/sean.parker.


When Rik Abel got laid off, he decided it might be time to do something new. The web developer turned to his love of music and has opened Rik’s Picks, a vintage record shop on Johnston Road. The store boasts more than 5,000 albums and a wide variety of amps, speakers and turntables.

He moved to Port Alberni two years ago from England, but has been visiting with family in the Valley for 25 years and has made the community home.

Abel’s large collection of vinyl came primarily from two collectors in the community, including stock from Portal Oddities and Curios, a shop in Harbour Quay that closed last year.

Since opening in the late fall, Rik’s Picks has had a “steady stream” of people in the store, says Abel.

“There have been some nerdy hi-fi conversations with guys who have come in,” laughs Abel, who says many people are happy to see a vintage record store in town.

He is currently tackling sorting the large collection by genre and artist to make them easier to search. Find Rik’s Picks on Facebook or drop by the shop, located next to AV Financial. Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Aaron Vissia of AV Financial has been hitting the books again, this time on the topic of estate planning. Vissia recently completed his Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation. The CLU is an advanced designation with a focus on estate planning and wealth transfer. www.avfinancial.ca.


MEC Projects has opened an office in Port Alberni. The company opened in Tofino in 2014 and provides electrical construction and design services for residential, commercial and industrial projects. www.mecprojectsltd.com.

Teresa Bird is the Alberni Valley News publisher. E-mail your business tips to her at publisher@albernivalleynews.com.

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