Weathering the winter lag

Pop-up stores are trendy. Diana Andrew read about it in her retail magazines. But Andrew's monthly routine of packing up the clothes from her store in Dawson City, throwing them into her well-travelled red, 2000 GMC pickup and driving the five hours to Whitehorse in winter is not caused by a fad.

Pop-up stores are trendy.

Diana Andrew read about it in her retail magazines.

But Andrew’s monthly routine of packing up the clothes from her store in Dawson City, throwing them into her well-travelled red, 2000 GMC pickup and driving the five hours to Whitehorse in winter is not caused by a fad.

She doesn’t even do it for the money.

The small business owner “pops-up” her clothing store in a conference room attached to the Westmark’s restaurant because she has to.

“I don’t want to just be a seasonal business,” she said. “But trying to make that manageable is difficult. It’s not a huge money maker because the expenses are high, but it’s certainly good for my business. Good for my morale. It’s a diversion. It brings me a lot of attention.”

This is the first winter Andrew has started the monthly treks to the capital.

And she will do it again next year.

“I’ve been encouraged,” she said. “Everyone has been so supportive.

“And I do get points for persevering.”

Andrew’s store is called the Dancing Moose.

In Dawson, it sells gifts, jewelry, local art and wellness products and clothes.

The pop-up version of the Dancing Moose in Whitehorse is just clothing.

Nygard, Papillon and a Canadian, organic line called Echo Rain make up the selection. She describes them as both young and adult upbeat, casual clothes.

The idea to take the store on the road came from a customer, said Andrew.

A Whitehorse resident who was visiting Dawson simply told her she should expand to the capital.

So she looked into it.

Both Andrew and her husband are small-business owners in the small, Klondike town. They know about having to find the customers, she said.

“We both like being independent,” she said. “So you need to find a way to make it work.”

All the support Andrew has received has reinforced her belief people like supporting locals who are trying to “give it a go.”

She has a small list of about 60 women whom she emails posters before she makes the visits, she said.

Her store’s publicity is almost entirely word of mouth.

This winter, she came to Whitehorse in November, December, January and March.

This coming week will be Andrew’s fifth and final visit to the capital.

“I’ve enjoyed it,” she said.

But Andrew never confirmed whether the trips were a financial success.

“I’m just trying to term it so it’s not totally depressing,” she said, laughing.

Andrew had never really dreamed of owning a store, just like she had never really planned to fall in love and live in Dawson, she added.

In 1996, Andrew was 35 years old. Her friend was going to visit her daughters, who were working as Gertie girls, and needed a travel buddy.

“I’d lived in small towns lots before, but the idea of going north didn’t mean anything to me – the nature didn’t mean anything to me,” she said. “I’d heard stories about Dawson, ‘Oh it’s magic, it’s special,’ ya ya ya.

“And then I got there, and it was.

“It was really just the atmosphere and the people. Everyone was so open. I’m an old social worker, so open and receptive isn’t what I’m used to.”

And then she met her husband Mark.

“That wasn’t my intention to fall in love and live happily ever after, but it’s working out that way,” she said, adding Dawson City is now, officially, home.

The business came once she got there and kept hearing the need for more local owners.

“Going into business was kinda buying myself a job, and that’s kinda the goal,” she said. “I’m not expecting that this is going to be a big money maker for business, but if it could provide me a salary – that’s my wish.”

And the support from both followers and walk-in traffic has her thinking even bigger.

She has been asked to visit other Yukon communities as well.

“We laugh about buying a cube van and going on the road,” she said, jokingly. “But Haines Junction … Mayo – they’re still in the back of my mind. We’ll see.

“We’ll have to get a new truck.”

The Dancing Moose will be in the Tagish Room (the windowed room directly to the left of the Westmark’s Wood Street entrance, right off the restaurant) from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 11 and 12.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

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