Book Nook in Chemainus the perfect place for Chiasson to set up shop

Thetis Island resident takes a look and decides it’s the right business investment

There’s no business like the service industry business for Nicole Chiasson.

“I’m quite a social person to begin with,” said Chiasson, 47, following her purchase of the Book Nook on Oak Street from Sue Martin.

It will now be known as Nic’s Cafe and Book Nook, but she foresees dropping the last part in the future.

“This place is known as the Book Nook and it has been for 15 years to Sue,” Chiasson reasoned. “Eventually, maybe five years – who knows – we’re going to be called Nic’s.”

Chiasson was born in Toronto, but didn’t spend much time there before her family relocated to Manitoba. The migration west continued and she actually spent most of her years growing up in Strathmore, Alberta.

The town had changed a lot through a boom time, prompting her and longtime beau Sjoerd van Kleef to look elsewhere.

“We sold our 40 acres and we were kind of thinking we both grew up in Strathmore and only one daughter left at home, where do we want to be?” pondered Chiasson. “We’re semi-retired. That’s half the battle.”

It took them a year and a half to find their desired location on Thetis Island.

They’ve spent the last 10 years on Thetis, with Chiasson working at the Thetis Island and Telegraph Harbour Marinas. She now makes the commute to Chemainus to operate her new business.

“One of the helpful selling features of this place was not having to drive anywhere after the ferry,” Chiasson noted.

The Book Nook just kind of fell into her lap.

“Knowing she (Martin) was tired, it was Shoe (Sjoerd) who came here and said ‘you should buy the Book Nook.’”

It turned out to be a good idea for Chiasson.

“Because the summer, Telegraph Harbour Marina was coming to an end with the season with the boaters, I was looking for something to do,” she reasoned. “Thetis is a bit small that way.

“I needed to come over here for employment. I bought myself a job and really excited to come into the Chemainus community and expand a little bit.”

Chiasson officially took over the business on Oct. 1.

“I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve been in the service industry pretty much my entire working career.”

Chiasson has Carol Sowerby helping her out on Fridays and Saturdays so she can have time to do other things. Sundays, she’s been around sprucing up the place so “I’m thinking of opening on Sundays,” she said.

But that will come later, along with a planned grand opening for either the end of the month or early November.

Nic’s Place is open early at 6:30 a.m. with a selection of baked goods for the early birds.

“We really want to have breakfast for people to come in – not just a coffee,” said Chiasson.

But coffee is otherwise the trademark of the place that connects her with customers.

“It’s usually, I know their coffees before I know their names,” Chiasson joked.

But she already knew a lot of people from Thetis and Chemainus, and getting to know more all the time.

“Chemainus is a great little community,” Chiasson indicated. “It reminds me of Strathmore. Everybody kind of knew everybody.”

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