Revelstoke has undergone significant transformation in the last decade. The downtown is filled with vibrant shops and restaurants, new subdivisions and housing have been created, and residents reap the rewards of living in an outdoor mecca.
Yet, for all the good, Revelstoke has been plagued with high cost of living, expensive housing that has become more and more out of reach for residents, outdated infrastructure, rising taxes, and an increase in tourism-based jobs that don’t pay a living wage.
If you want to stay here, sometimes you need to get creative when it comes to making a living.
Meet Lindsay Craig, owner and operator of Revelstoke Pool and Spa. In years past you might have seen her in the news as a local competitor from the Free Ski World Tour or as a ski reviewer for Powder Magazine.
What you might not know about this young entrepreneur is that from the age of seventeen she worked at her parents plumbing and construction business in the swimming pool and spa division back in Ontario.
“I was fortunate because my family gave me responsibility at a young age, and I had the opportunity to learn the accounting and billing side of things as well as how to do installations, repairs and maintenance,” says Craig.
After some time spent skiing and working, Craig pursued a degree in Business from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
“I knew that eventually I wanted to work for myself,” Craig says. “I think it’s normal to not know what you want to do in life, and a degree shows you can complete something; that you can focus in and learn how to learn.”
Craig has lived in Revelstoke eight years and run her business for five. When she first arrived in Revelstoke, she worked as a ski patroller and as a service representative at Bear Canyon Cabinetry. During the recession, Bear Canyon closed, and though she loved ski patrol and wanted to continue to live in Revelstoke, Craig wondered what kind of quality of life she could afford in the long term.
“Patrol is hard work and I have huge respect for the ski patrol in Revelstoke,” Craig says, “but it just wasn’t a role I wanted to follow to fruition. And even though I loved being a ‘pro skier’ the risks of becoming a pro skier were hitting home. I love skiing and I want to ski forever- if it was taken away from me I don’t know how I would cope. So I had to make a call that, while competitive skiing was fun, the risk of injury and wrecking my body was too high.”
When it came to starting her own business, Craig felt that utilizing her past experience to fill a niche not being offered in town made sense.
“Revelstoke is a ski town and a lot of people have spas,” Craig says. “Buying a spa is one thing, but you effectively have to feed it for the next twenty years. Owners need to be able purchase chemicals, repair or replace heaters, pumps and any piece that eventually wears out, as well as doing regular maintenance. Holding water outside in winter is actually not always as easy as you think.”
Craig explains that various spas have different levels of provincial standards of care. A commercial pool may require water be tested hourly, a big hotel pool may be tested four times a day. Those require onsite employees. But homeowners or Air B & B rentals are a gray zone.
“They should be checked a few times a week,” says Craig. “Some have automated chlorine release. Still though, I do checks and tests and keep a record. If you have a rental, it’s important because if a customer comes back at you and accuses you as the source of an illness, you have a record of levels. Or, if you are away, having someone come and check to ensure your spa isn’t frozen, that if the power went out or a heater blew the problem is addressed quickly, is a peace of mind service.”
When the Evans started MacKenzie Village, Craig approached them about partnering and offering spas with the purchase of a customer’s unit, if they desired.
“I wanted to be a dealership, but to be able to be one you need to have the finances to purchase six spas, the equivalent of about sixty thousand dollars, outright. I didn’t have those resources, so I needed to come up with a creative way to become a dealership.”
The Evans agreed and the endeavour was successful, allowing Craig to become a local spa dealer.
“They had faith I could pull it off and they’ve been incredible to me,” she says. “Becoming a dealership changed my life and my ability to have my business thrive in this community.”
Craig’s determination to make her life in Revelstoke is paying off. At current projected rates of growth, Craig will be hiring two full time employees in the next five years; her first is scheduled for this winter.
For Craig, this means coming full circle. Now that she has succeeded in her ambition to live and thrive financially in Revelstoke, she will soon be in a position to help others realize their dreams.