Eddy Labrecque’s plan was to retire in Peachland. But it only lasted six months before a lifelong dream suddenly presented itself. A unique clothing store with a lovely lakeside view was for sale, and three years later, the owner of the Lanai boutique has already been through one flood, a season of forest fires, two break-ins, and now, we’re in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. And while that would be enough for many to throw in the towel – and right now it’s really discouraging, Labrecque is persevering.
“Through all the things I’ve been through with the store, I could have easily buttoned it up and said I’m done. But first, that’s not who I am, and second, I just always look at it as a learning opportunity, like how am I going to get through this, and what’s the next step?”
Labrecque’s career in fashion started at a young age – as a 15 year-old in Saskatoon, SK, she was given an opportunity to work at the
local Eaton’s department store. She was quickly spoiled, she says, because she got to work in high-end ladies’ fashion. Over the years, she worked in a few different departments, working up to doing display work and merchandising. After she left that job, she raised two children, helped run her husband’s dental practice, and took up interior design and goldsmithing. In 2011 she moved to Kelowna, and worked a few years as a merchandiser and interior decorator at Lakehouse home store.
“I worked there for four years and I loved it, but my passion had always been to own my own store,” Labrecque says.
“I always wanted to do it, but I knew that unless I had the right opportunity, the right location, the right situation, I would never do it because retail is really hard.”
A move to West Kelowna, a house built and sold later, and Labrecque arrived in Peachland. It’s taken three years, she says, to get the store to where she wants it – gradually buying and changing things to be more reflective of her vision. Renovating the space (the work was finished just a couple months ago), and having staff whose passion is giving customers that boutique experience, is truly what has made it come together.
“I knew that’s where we could excel, with our product and our service,” says Lebrecque, noting that’s a big thing she misses about her
closed-up store: the people.
“It’s not easy to sit there and leave my store,” she says.
“I love the interaction and I love the one on one contact and the relationships we have with our clients.”
She’s now working on an online store, part of a revamp of her website. It’s set to relaunch within a week or so, and it’s been a huge learning curve.
“I’ve been asked to do it for a couple years now, but I always pushed it to the back burner because it wasn’t my thing,” says Labrecque.
“But now, I have to adapt, and really, we’re never too old to learn. Every day, it’s like ‘OK, now I have to learn to do this. And this and this and this, and it’s just..wow. At my age, you get kind of tired, and I don’t know if I have the energy. But I want people to know I’m here, and I’m available.”
Recognizing not everybody has the money or the mindset to consider fashion right now, Labrecque says she just wants to make it as easy as possible for those who want something special right now. When asked what she’d like to say to Peachlanders, she echoes what many small local businesses are saying – they need our support.
“We all need your support,” Labrecque says.
“I know clothing isn’t an essential service, but basically, if you don’t support us now, we may not be here later.”
The Lanai: www.thelanai.ca
Phone: (250) 571-0678