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Pique n' Your Interest

People… it’s time to get creative

There are people out there trying to make the playing field a little more even, but I can’t help but think that if you want to stay in Whistler and have some money as well then there’s only one way – start your own business or buy into one.

I’ve come to this conclusion after reading scores of letters from people who were forced to leave Whistler because it’s "too expensive".

And, while I’ve only been here for a short time, these letters annoy me, mostly because they’re usually very useful, young people who write them.

They also annoy me because I know of a few rich bureaucrats I’d like to toss out of this town and a bunch of others who just don’t seem to be thankful for what they’ve got.

Anyway, I digress.

Unfortunately the letter writers are right, it is expensive and difficult to make money in Whistler and continue to partake in all the things people do here.

This is mostly because of the environment we live in.

When I used to work in a big city I played football when I had time, which was never, and went to the gym.

But in Whistler I’ve kayaked, biked, skied, snowboarded, hiked, played football and gone to the gym.

There are people who do all of the above plus – mountain climbing and motocross, horseriding, fishing etc.

The annoying thing is that for every new past time comes a cost for equipment. Hell… you can’t even walk around here without having good shoes – the trails around here destroy them too.

But the way I see it, if you want to live in a post card and make money then you’ve got to find a way, eventually, to put your own mark on that postcard rather than just help someone else make their mark.

Notice a key word in the last paragraph was "eventually".

This is a key word because loyalty, at least to me, still means something and I want to be very clear about what I’m suggesting.

I’m not suggesting you serve notice tomorrow to go start your own bass fishing company in Alaska.

I’m suggesting that if you really, really want to stay here then you’ve got to get creative and look for ways, and usually likeminded partners, that might be interested in creating a sustainable business.

The bad news is that the aforementioned process can take a long time but, as I’ll demonstrate, it’s definitely worth the grind.

Often what happens with business ideas is that you might have a great one, and I know that most of you do, but then somebody comes along and "steels it".

Rarely does a week go by where I don’t hear somebody say the phrase "Whistler-Blackcomb totally stole that idea off me."

Well here’s a news flash – WB, Intrawest and every other multinational organization in this area is going to capitalize on every good idea they hear about; that’s how they got to be multinational organizations.

So if you have a good idea and it requires the assistance of WB or any other organization, patent your idea, copyright it – do whatever you have to make the idea yours and then make a formal presentation.

A lot of people are happy to complain about the way some of the big players around here treat them, but the truth is that these organizations have to know "what they’re going to get out of it."

So first figure out how you can help "them" before you ask "them" for help, then if your idea is still strong and it’s going to make money and/or a bunch of people very happy, it should work.

You just need to be patient, persistent and professional about the whole thing and you’ll get there.

And even if your idea does fail, if you maintain your integrity, the people you approach for help will often remember you when they need to hire someone to start something new.

It’s also important to remember that many of the best businesspeople start with something they can manage themselves, like a Web site, so they don’t have to ask for help.

Anyway, I’ll leave this column with two examples and one idea for you.

The first example is Esporta, a small business, located right below the Pique office, that started last year.

Donna Hudon, Linda Livingstone and Gord Downey run this business and it’s worthy of a mention because it’s so simple anyone could have thought of it, and Livingstone informed me they’re already looking at expanding their operation.

Essentially, Esporta is a cleaning business but they don’t do floors, or jackets; Esporta specializes in cleaning sports equipment with one big machine.

They clean crash pads and hockey gear and all the other stuff that is almost impossible to fit into the household washing machines.

Such a simple and obvious idea in a town like Whistler isn’t it?

Livingstone said the idea for their business started on Citta’s patio when Hudon suggested they look for ways to start a business.

As much as I’d like to talk about Chris Quinlan and Behind the Grind in my second example everybody already knows he’s a champion so I’ll highlight another cafe: Cracked Pepper.

Cracked Pepper is a café in Function Junction started by two Australian sisters.

After more than a decade of catering for other people, Jennifer Dewar and Helen Campbell decided to start their own business.

Then they found some real estate in Function with a kitchen and now their catering business is becoming a very successful café as well.

AND HERE’S MY IDEA: I worked for WB last year and I noticed there were a lot of people, some young ones, some rich ones and some overweight ones, who really struggled carrying their ski/snowboard gear.

The thing that really caught my eye was that most of these people/families were loaded, so I’m wondering who’s going to monopolize a resort wide ski valet service?

It could be like a cab company for helping people with their skis getting to and from the mountain.