Tuesday, 3 November 2015

More than Trading at the Forks

You can tell how much Brad Hewlett loves Forks Trading Company just by strolling through the store with him. He has a story to tell about each artisan showcased on the shelves. His eyes light up with each description of another unique product. And as he approaches the moccasin section, he turns to me with a grin on his face.

Brad wants to show me the display he made – a wooden crate perched overhead with a sign reading ‘Moccasins for tall people’, and another at waist-height indicating ‘Moccasins for short people’. He chuckles as he points it out, making sure I get the joke.

That’s the kind of good-natured fun Brad has in his store. When The Forks opened 16 years ago – in October 1989 – hewas one of the first tenants, selling wooden ducks out of a kiosk named Splinters. In 1995, he purchased Yesteryear Flower and Candle, eventually changing its name to Two Rivers. Then in 2009 he took over The Craft Cupboard, renamed it Forks Trading Company, and launched what would become one of the Market’s busiest retail outlets.

Megan Basaraba is General Manager and Buyer for Forks Trading Company. Coming from a fast-paced (and stressful!) career as a second Assistant Director in the film industry, Megan finds the retail world a welcome reprieve. She loves working there as much as she loves shopping there, playfully suggesting it’s a volunteer job since all the money she earns goes right back into the store.


Customers have come to know Forks Trading Company as the place to go for high-quality merchandise by local artisans. Everything they sell is handmade in Canada, with the majority made in Manitoba. One of Megan's favourite parts of the job is sourcing new product lines. Since artisans are constantly upping the standard of what they’re creating, Forks Trading Company has to continually up their standard, too. They take great pride in carrying the best of the best, the beautifully imperfect, the one-of-a-kind. 

Pottery is a best-seller, produced by the likes of Susan Gurman from Lorette, Steve Jorgenson from Birds Hill, and other local potters. Soaps and candles from popular companies such as Soy Harvest, Harlow, and Coal and Canary are also in hot demand.

You’ll find jewelry, hats, scarves, fashions, sunglasses, essential oils, colognes, books, kitchen utensils, stone carvings, and the list goes on. Looking for maple syrup, specialty chocolate, or ready-to-cook soup mixes? They’ve got that, too. For kids, there’s a section of thoughtfully-made toys, clothing and keepsakes.

Most purchases come with a write-up about the artisan, while scheduled meet-and-greets give shoppers the chance to connect with the people behind the products. Starting in November, they’ll offer private shopping nights with drinks, snacks, samples and discounts – a practice already growing in popularity at the Blue Heron in Kenora, another shop owned by Brad.

Megan and Brad have a great time showcasing what’s best suited for each season, and coming up with new ways to do retail differently. Their mutual goal is for customers to have an enjoyable shopping experience every time they walk through the doors.

And I’ll bet they do. 

You can follow Forks Trading company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Danny, King of the Basement, at MTYP

Guest post by : Greg Klassen

Good day. I’m the new marketing manager at Manitoba Theatre for Young People. Some of you may know me already. I’ve worked at the RWB, PTE and Manitoba Museum, over the past 30 years. But I’ve never worked in children’s theatre before.

I am truly excited to be at MTYP. Nearly every weekday, six hundred kids bound through our doors on their way to experience the magic of live theatre. Many for the first time. They hold nothing back. They are the most honest audience I have ever witnessed. They laugh loud when the situation onstage is funny and fidget when they’re bored. And sometimes, during a serious scene, they are alarmingly silent. I’m sure even their parents would be amazed.

The live performing arts are more important than they have ever been. With so much of our time spent behind screens these days, interaction with live performers is almost shockingly novel in today’s world. As is the experience of being in room with peers, phones turned off, all listening to each other react in real time.

I remember my first live performance. I was a student at Carman Collegiate and Contemporary Dancers came to perform. I was mesmerized by the movement and the costumes and the otherworldly place this experience took me to. I fell hard and wanted more!

Live art is an excellent way to start conversations about topics that are difficult to address in real life. MTYP’s first play of its new season is a great example. Danny, King of the Basement, is a warm, funny play, that opens the door to empathy toward those less fortunate. Far from being a bleak play about homelessness and poverty, Danny illustrates that the imagination can be wonderful tool to open new realities for children.

Every day MTYP plants the seeds of curiosity and wonder in our young audiences. I look forward to discovering more about how MTYP works behind the scenes and to being at the Forks every day. Hopefully I’ll run into you and you can tell me your stories about what the performing arts mean to you. And by all means, come and check us out.

See you soon,
- Greg 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Welcome to The Boulevard

We all know why the chicken crossed the road, but our question is WHERE did the chicken do it? Well, it would probably be at The Boulevard if they were here at The Forks 

The Boulevard, a temporary demonstration project, has widened the current boulevard on Israel Asper Way, to give you a safer way to cross by calm the flow of traffic.

As new additions come to The Forks, we're always on the lookout for how people use and get around the site. Over the past year, we were noticing that the current pedestrian crossing wasn’t being respected as it should be. Cars weren't slowing down and stopping for people trying to cross and it was kind of like having a four-lane highway in the middle of our site. So we tried to think of creative ways to calm traffic, keep people safe, and add a little style while doing it. Enter "The Boulevard".

Located between the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the FNP Parkade, The Boulevard is designed to have traffic to merge from two lanes in each direction to one in each direction. 

The space is outlined by large planters, safety cones, and giant chickens painted on the ground to designate a safe crossing space. We've also added Warming Huts to make it look a bit prettier.

Because this is a demonstration project, The Boulevard will be operating from September 16 to the end of October. After that, we'll review the space and how the concept worked.

So be like the chickens and cross safely at The Boulevard to get to the other side.