Ernie Smith co-owns Awatin Art, a jewelry store in Campbell River. There, he sells custom jewelry under his own label, Mowisaht Designs. (supplied by Ernie Smith, Awatin Aboriginal Art)
Awatin Aboriginal Art is closing at the end of September after three years in downtown Campbell River.
Ernie Smith owns the store along with his wife Darlene. He says they’ve had to make the unfortunate decision to close the store because of all the break-ins they’ve experienced.
The store was broken into three times this year, with the second and third break-ins just days apart.
“And then we had a major theft of a $3, 600 gold bracelet that was carved by Chief Darren Blaney,” Smith said.
“It’s just costing us too much money trying to maintain our business in Campbell River, so we made the tough decision to close the store.”
Awatin started out as an online store, and Smith says they’ll still sell different pieces on their site. While that’s good news for those who want to buy art and jewelry, he adds that it’s still a hard time.
“We’re really sad to be closing the store. We really appreciate the support of the artists and also the customers who came in the store. We appreciate the support of Campbell River as a whole. We’re really sad to be closing, but we just can’t continue to operate with all the break-ins,” he says.
“We had a lot of fun and we met a lot of new friends that will continue to be our friends. We’re sad to leave the business, but we’ll still carry on online.”
Smith says the police is still investigating the break-ins. He says it might be someone in the area who just needs their adrenaline fix, but there’s not enough evidence to charge anyone. The incidents were caught on surveillance but each time, the suspect had their face covered.
Starting tomorrow, the store will have a 30 to 50 per cent off sale on every item in the store.
For a catalogue of art, jewelry, pottery and more, visit Awatin Art’s website.