A business which has been a fixture in downtown Sidney for 15 years is closing.
Alan Mayfield, owner-operator of the Victoria Lavender Store on Beacon Avenue, said he is closing the business because he is tired, but the business will remain open until all product has sold.
“I have been trying to retire for about three years, and failed miserably,” said Mayfield, who is 74 years old. The store — along with the Lavender farm that he owns — requires a lot of work and one of his two staff — herself 65 years old — asked him several months ago about retirement, said Mayfield. “So it sort of all came together at the same time,” he said.
That said, business has been going strong. “The business has been great,” he said. “If ever you wanted to have a lavender retail store, the best place for it, as far as I know, is Sidney, just because of the demographics. Our typical customer base is the more mature lady, and obviously, we have loads of them. It worked out very, very well.”
Overall, Sidney has been “very, very, very good” to the business, said Mayfield. “In the 15 years, we have made money every single year.”
Mayfield purchased the store 15 years ago while he was shopping for an apartment. “In fact, I wasn’t planning on having a store here,” he said. “I came to Sidney and went to look at a vacant apartment in the Landmark building, and as I went up with the realtor to have a look at the apartment, that little shop that we have was vacant and for lease. So I took them both.”
Even if Mayfield is closing the store, he plans to retain his lavender farm along the Pat Highway near the Sidney Visitor Centre.
“It’s my home, and I intend to live out my days here on the farm,” he said, adding that he will continue to farm and harvest lavender. “That is a six to eight-week-job every year,” he said. “The rest of the time, it will just be my home. Lavender is a perennial. Bushes will grow back every year and we will just harvest them.”
Last year, Mayfield closed his lavender farm to the public because of the work involved.
But Mayfield plans to retain a presence in downtown Sidney with a portable stand during Sidney’s Thursday Night Market. “That will be my way of being able to stay in touch with the community,” he said.
Mayfield started to grow and sell lavender after a lengthy career in the provincial lumber industry. Following back-to-back heart attacks in 2000 and 2001, Mayfield retired from the lumber industry and eventually found himself working with lavender, which meshed well with his family background in farming.
“Lavender has a long history, and it is associated with peace and relaxation, and totally de-stressing you,” he said. “I thought, if I was going to do something, that would be a very good thing to be associated with following a couple of heart attacks.”
Mayfield had no idea about growing and selling lavender when he started, said he could not have been happier with his choice, and with the way the community has responded.
“I love our community,” he said. “I intend to stay here forever, and I’m very grateful to Sidney for the support that they given to us over the years.”