What happens when two ambitious business owners who already own three Steveston businesses team up? They pool their creative and entrepreneurial talents and introduce a new shop to the village.
Steveston’s Best of British is the collaboration between Lenny Entwistle and Elly Fenton. The idea of opening a British shop began to germinate when they repeatedly heard how disappointed people were that Mary’s British Home closed last summer after 30 years in operation.
It makes sense that their respective customers were voicing their concerns to Elly and Lenny who have a vested interest in British products; Lenny grew up in Newcastle, England and Elly’s Australian roots are deeply entwined with her homeland’s historical connection to Mother England.
Elly owns Robel Income Tax Services, which is two doors down from Lenny’s Beauty Parlour. The two became acquainted a number of years ago when Lenny began cutting Elly’s hair. In addition to Lenny’s hair salon she also branched out five years ago and opened Lenny’s Vintage Vault where she sells vintage items picked up on travels to England and other places in the world.
The new shop has been well received since it opened on November 11, 2017. Elly says, “It is so rewarding to hear how appreciative our customers are.”
Along with the return of British groceries come some familiar faces. Elly and Lenny hired three of Mary’s former staff and added one more staff member. They are extremely knowledgeable about products and have an established relationship with many of the customers. Both Elly and Lenny also spend time in the shop in addition to running their existing businesses.
While it was a big loss when 4 Cats Art Studio closed last fall, the business partners benefitted and leased the bright corner space on First Avenue and Chatham Street.
The demand for British food is as strong as ever. Bus drivers pop in on their breaks to buy sausage rolls, children love the candy and United Kingdom expats stock up on their nostalgic favourites when they are craving the taste of home. In fact, Elly and Lenny report people of all nationalities are fascinated with the shop.
The shop’s glass paneled doors are painted classic red and bear a striking resemblance to Britain’s iconic telephone boxes. As an interesting side note, Lenny mentions the phone booths are now in retirement and are being sold off and repurposed (she would love to get her hands on one) for many uses including teeny coffee stalls, kiosks, lending libraries and even mini work stations for commuters and tourists.
Inside the shop you will find a completely renovated space, which was laborious work; an inch of paint had to be removed before the new flooring could be installed. Look up at the ceiling at the back of the shop and you will notice some splatter paint intentionally left behind in tribute to the many birthday parties held at 4 Cats.
Lenny is responsible for the store’s design and has woven in pops of red and British décor. She says, “I wanted to pull the vintage in.” She found a magnificent historical Union Jack, which Elly had framed as a surprise.
“Our goal was to keep the space fresh, clean and crisp.” Lenny Entwistle
The floor space is creatively used to display products, as there is limited wall space due to the number of windows in this shop. The back wall features a long glass display cooler filled with all of the baked goods customers relied on and feared were gone from Steveston forever. The same supplier provides Steveston’s Best of British with Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, meat pies, Scotch eggs, and other baked yummies.
The freezer is stocked with everything from smoked haddock, haggis (there’s even a vegetarian haggis), black pudding, white pudding, Scotch kippers, potato cakes, English bangers, Ayreshire bacon and numerous frozen meat pies. Inside the refrigerator you will find cheese, clotted cream and soda pop.
The store is laden with teas, confectionary, condiments (jams, chutneys, pickles, tinned goods), chocolates (if you haven’t tried Cadbury’s chocolate from England you must!), biscuits (aka cookies in North America), and crisps that come in a variety of fun flavours such as roast beef, prawn cocktail, Guinness, and cheese and onion.
Extra interest in what’s happening across the pond have been fuelled by binge worthy televisions shows such as Downton Abbey and The Crown, not to mention the buzz surrounding the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018.
Record the wedding (as it is appears it will be broadcast in the wee hours of the morning), and later in the day put the kettle on and tuck into a traditional cream tea or pull together a Ploughman’s lunch as you enjoy the pomp and circumstance.
Steveston’s Best of British has everything you will need for this special occasion, or any other time you are craving the tastes of Britain – after all, you never know when that nostalgic feeling will strike!
Steveston’s Best of British
110 – 12031 First Avenue
Richmond, BC V7E 3M1