Local Business

Home & Garden Gate

Growing from a seed of inspiration to a celebration of 25 years of business success

Home & Garden Gate owner Jody Williams.  Photo by Boomer Jerritt

When Jody Williams moved to the Comox Valley from Vancouver in 1992, she was finally able to fulfill a lifelong dream of opening her own business.

“The desire to start a business was the catalyst for the creation of a store then called The Garden Gate,” recalls Williams. “I was trained as an interior designer, and I had worked in retail on and off since the age of 14. I had always wanted to open a store and, when I visited a little garden decor shop in a house in La Conner, Washington, I was inspired to open a similar store in the Comox Valley.”

The Garden Gate’s first location was in a stand-alone building above the barber shop on the corner of Cliffe Avenue and Fifth Street, Courtenay. Right out of the proverbial garden gate, Williams made the decision to invest some of her annual advertising budget to support what was then also a new local enterprise—InFocus Magazine. She has been a dedicated advertiser ever since.

The garden decor store was a resounding success. Within a couple of years, the product offerings expanded from gardening items to also having a full range of home decorating items, necessitating a name change to ‘Home & Garden Gate.’ In 1993, due to their success and need for more space, Williams moved to her current 1,200-square-foot location at 319 Fifth Street. Today Home & Garden Gate is filled with an inspiring mix of home and outdoor décor, body care, candles, kids’ activities and books, kitchen gadgets and accessories, cookbooks, storage solutions, cozy throws, lighting, Sid Dickens tiles and much more.

Over the years Williams has opened several seasonal pop-up stores, the first one during the Christmas season in 2003 in the Driftwood Mall, the same year London Drugs opened. She continues to have HG Winter pop-up stores in various locations in Downtown Courtenay annually.

In 2005, while living in Cumberland, Williams opened a second Home & Garden Gate location in the village. The store was there for seven years before closing in 2012 so Jody and her husband Noel could focus on raising their young family.

Never one to sit still for too long, Williams’ opened her newest enterprise in March 2017. Ivory & Grey is a clothing store that naturally grew from the success of the unique imported and Canadian-made clothing lines she had begun carrying at her flagship location.

“The clothing was a hit, and it kept evolving from a single rack to a full corner of the store and squeezing a fitting room in the back room,” Williams says.  “When retail space became available a couple of doors down from us, at Suite 202, 307 Fifth Street, it made sense to expand.

“During the flurry of activity in opening this new store in just over three weeks, I was agonizing about a suitable name. One day, I looked at the business card that Tyra Lewis had designed for Home & Garden Gate and realized that the colors in our logo, of ivory and grey, sounded perfect. I bounced the name idea off a few people, and everyone loved it. That’s how ‘Ivory & Grey’ was born.”

This fall, Home & Garden Gate will celebrate 25 years in business and Williams couldn’t be more proud. She has not only created a job for herself but five others, too.

What’s the secret to her success? “I think keeping it interesting, and providing good quality at a great price has been key,” concludes Williams.  “I love things that are beautiful and so do my customers. I know my stores will continue to evolve.”

And as things evolve in the community, Williams is happy to have collaborated with InFocus over the years—in fact she was featured in the second issue of the magazine, back in July 1993, for a plan she came up with to help raise awareness and donations for the Comox Valley Food Bank, called “Plant-a-Patch”.

“I first met Tyra when she was launching InFocus Magazine and we have become more than just colleagues, we are friends,” says Jody Williams, owner of Home & Garden Gate. “We have worked together to create my store’s branding and advertising through a collaboration where she takes what I have ‘in my head’ and she puts it in print.

“She had a vision for this magazine, and I think that she was ahead of her time, as far as this type of publication was concerned. She wasn’t having writers write ‘fluff’.  They were in-depth, informative articles that you wouldn’t necessarily see in a newspaper. They were about people’s personal lives, their achievements and struggles.  Tyra is a perfectionist and it showed in her work and in this magazine. I am really going to miss InFocus but I look forward to continuing to work with Tyra for my graphic design and advertising needs.”

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