Gilles Amyot was waiting in the seat of his truck outside the One Time Electrical storefront on Broadway next to Cutrite Meats.
“This is my office,” Amyot jokes, the first of many to come in the course of our chat. “You’re going to have to get used to me just like everybody else,” he warned. “I’ve got a dry sense of humour.”
Amyot originates from Québec, which you can hear in his accent, but is a long-time transplant to the West (37 years in Alberta and B.C.) and truly considers himself a Westerner.
Nakusp is the last and final stop in Amyot’s Western migration; before moving here seven years ago he was very busily working in Calgary from break of day until late at night.
When his second wife, Judy, was diagnosed with MS and told by her doctor she had to de-stress her life, the couple hit the road looking for a comfortable place to live with a more relaxing pace.
Coming to Nakusp was “an accident,” in the words of Amyot. A friend who used to come camp in town heard they were on their way and convinced them to visit him here. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with the area, although it took a while for them to make it here.
Eventually and inevitably, the Amyots found their dream home near Summit Lake.
“Everybody says it’s the wrong place, but we think it’s the right place,” Amyot said, recognizing that many people often think, incorrectly, that there isn’t enough sunlight in the narrow valley where he lives. “We get lots of snow, sure,” he conceded.
After finally making it here, Amyot began working at then-Loma Lumber to make the living necessary to stay in the area.
“We aren’t rich,” said Amyot, “everyone thinks if you’re from Calgary you’ve got lots of money.” Not so, in his case, and the flooring professional has been working steadily since, both as a contractor and in the retail end of things, to make ends meet.
Newspaper went up in the storefront windows at 212B Broadway a couple months ago, and One Time Electrical opened soon after with a free lunch for local contractors, but little fanfare other than that.
From the outside, the store remained unremarkable, with the only visible change being the addition of a couple of signs. Inside, however, the store is bright and full of sample books, rolls of electrical wiring, racks with odds and ends needed to wire a house and make it liveable. The bright lighting and a black couch and coffee table with bright green and orange silicon coasters shaped like flowers, a touch of design in the otherwise functional space, create a welcoming environment perfect for perusing paint swatches.
The store is the collaborative effort of Amyot and electrician Jacob Butt who decided to put their expertise to use in the retail world as well. With their flooring and electrical knowledge, Amyot and Butt have brought in products that they know and trust, making them available for anyone in town who needs them. The store has recently expanded its inventory, adding General Paint and a line of industrial-strength but eco-friendly cleaning and refinishing products from Québec. Amyot is about to try out some of the new green refinishing products out at Halcyon Hot Springs as part of a flooring project there.
Business appears to flows both ways at One Time Electrical: visitors to the store can find a local contractor (there is a raft of business cards on the front coffee table), and Amyot and Butt’s clients can come to the store to find products that they may want.
It sounds like Amyot prefers to be out of the store in his truck, or on a job site, as nice as the space is. Manning the business in his absence are Brennen Livingstone and Stephanie Dieterman. Dieterman was wrangling data into some new software in the back when I visited, a system she was learning that kept track of inventory and more while Livingstone was stationed at the front counter. The young man has also been dabbling in design, with one of his most recent ventures being their store flyer.
“In a place like here, you have to think long term. That’s what you have to do to say here,” Amyot stated, who is realistic but also optimistic about the future of the store. “If people work hard at it, there will be work,” he said, hoping that his store would be one more opportunity for people to keep busy with work.