Creekside makeover draws new tenants 

Coastal Culture sets up shop in Creekside

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - Coastal Culture Thomas Thacker (left) and Ryan Brown opened their ski and bike shop Coastal Culture on April 1.
  • PHOTO by Braden Dupuis
  • Coastal Culture Thomas Thacker (left) and Ryan Brown opened their ski and bike shop Coastal Culture on April 1.

Creekside's renaissance continues as its property managers fill vacancies that remain in the pedestrian village.

Last year, CNL Lifestyle Properties — the Florida-based company with an 80-per-cent stake in the Creekside Village — announced plans to revitalize the area.

And earlier this month, Greenstead Consulting Group — CNL's advisor on repositioning Creekside — announced it had signed Pure Integrative Pharmacy (PIP) as the newest tenant to come on board.

"(PIP) started here in B.C., and it is aligned with what it is that we want to offer in Creekside, which is, in a nutshell, an experience that is unique, that is authentic, that is Canadian," said Greenstead's Peter Morris.

PIP will be Whistler's first compounding pharmacy — a pharmacy that can make customized formulas from prescriptions.

"This works well not only for doctors, but it will also support the vet practice, which will be located next door," Morris said. "There's only nine stores in the chain, and you're not going to find it on every street corner, so it presents a completely different aspect for both the locals of the Whistler area and also for people coming to Whistler."

And "different" is exactly what Greenstead and CNL are looking for, Morris said.

"We have found in our study that Whistler Village has become very brand-oriented, and Whistler has lost that unique retail flair that it used to have a number of years ago," he said. "So we're talking to small-chain food and beverage operators or single operators, but people who have experience. We're talking to retailers or service providers that are locally based, or operate with one or two locations, and we're really excited about the interest that we're getting in Creekside."

CNL owns 21 lease spaces in Creekside in total, five of which are still up for grabs. Greenstead is currently in discussions with at least a dozen potential tenants to fill them, but Morris said there is still an opportunity for interested parties to get involved.

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Drawing guests to Creekside has been a challenge for businesses for years. A 2012 report commissioned by the municipality stated that "new visions for the Creekside area" were needed.

Last August,x Whistler Blackcomb (WB) opened mountain bike trails into the Creekside Village, which proved a boon for both the bikers and the merchants.

The two trails that currently exist in the Creekside Zone are Dusty's DH and BC's Trail, both of which can be accessed from Crossroads, underneath the top of the Creekside Gondola. They will be open from June 18 to September 18 this season.

This week WB fleshed out its plans for 15 kilometres of new trails in the Creekside area under its $345 million Renaissance upgrades plan.

In Year 1 the expansion would focus on building trails that are accessible directly from the Creekside Gondola and from Garbanzo/Upper Whistler Village Gondola. Five trails are envisioned consisting of advanced intermediate, advanced, technical and freeride type trails.

Whistler Chamber CEO Val Litwin said he applauds Greenstead's effort to differentiate from the offerings in the village, but doesn't agree with the notion that the main village has lost its retail flair.

"I think they're going to have to work hard to make sure it's very differentiated, because I think we do have a very good retail mix here in the village," Litwin said, adding that, while he respects the developer's vision, he would encourage them to look at businesses aside from restaurants and retail stores as well.

"I know we've got some tremendous businesses and operators here in town that would probably love to get into a space down there," he said. "How might the vision be expanded to include some tremendous local businesses that add to our community and vibe at the street level?"

Helping to create that vision is just what the owners of new venture Coastal Culture are all about.

When it opened its doors beside the Tim Hortons in Creekside for the first time on April 1, some people thought they were being played.

"Good old April Fool's Day. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but we're here," said Thomas Thacker, who co-owns the new bike/ski shop with Ryan Brown.

"There's been lots of great support from the community for sure. It's been awesome."

Both Thacker and Brown are longtime Whistlerites — Brown moved here in the '80s, while Thacker has been here for more than a decade.

"We offer it all, really," Brown said of the new venture. "We offer rental, we do retail and we also do repair, and we'll do the same in winter as well."

Both men cut their teeth in Whistler Village's bike and ski shops before deciding to set up shop for themselves.

Thacker said it's something he's wanted to do for some time.

"I never thought we'd be able to open a business at the base of the mountain, so that's pretty sweet," he said. "For me it's about supporting the community. I love living here, I want to try and give back as much as I can and be a part of the community as long as I can, and what better way to do it than own your own business and be involved?"



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