Did You Know?

Dreary, socked in days? Not here! Cranbrook is one of the top 15 cities in Canada with the most fog-free days.

Kimberley business community influencers

Each year, Kootenay Business magazine compiles a list of individuals who are having a widespread positive impact on Kimberley’s business community. The 2018 instalment of this “Kimberley Influencers” list reveals the vision, collaboration and co-operation that has been creating wins in Kimberley’s business community.

Brandi O’Neill is the founder and owner of Paper and Cup, a boutique bookstore and cafe in Kimberley.
— Nicole Leclair photo, courtesy Kootenay Business

The list includes:

Diane Manson of Mountain City Travel. Manson is a consistent supporter of Kimberley’s business community. She partners with other businesses—the Green Door, Paper and Cup, the Cranbrook History Centre, the Heid Out and the Key City Theatre—to produce events that promote tourism, and the events are a win for everyone involved.

“We’re stronger as a collective than we are as individuals,” Manson said. “Businesses need to be agile, because things change every day and you need to be able to change with the times. We’re a type of business that is affected by what’s happening locally, regionally and globally, and we’ve weathered a few storms over the years. Even when things are at a low point, we know we can still build and grow.”

Brandi O’Neill, owner of boutique bookstore and café Paper and Cup in Kimberley’s Platzl, is excited to offer a unique venue to her patrons, where, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., singles, couples and groups may come to quietly read, write, muse or socialize.

“When I first moved here,” said O’Neill, “I was a single mom with two babies. I didn’t know anyone, and had no place where I could connect with people. My vision to involve the community was definitely my intent with my store. I wanted it to be a community hub. Paper and Cup offers a place for people to make social connections. It helps them to deepen their roots and build their own community.”

O’Neill hosts events for businesses and individuals as well as her own book club gatherings. She enjoys being hands-on in her support of the business community, and recently became a director on the board of the Kimberley chamber of commerce.

O’Neill was recently named Kimberley’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2018.

Aaron Lees left Cranbrook for Kimberley in 2002. In 2004, he and his brother, Kent—who then lived in Vancouver—bought the Sullivan Pub and Liquor Store. A few years later, Kent also moved to Kimberley. The pub was initially a small part of the business, and the Lees brothers and their staff have worked hard to grow it into the popular gathering place it is now.

The brothers’ ventures include the pub, liquor store, Gym 67, and several real estate projects.

“We understand the need for some form of staff accommodations, considering the current rental market in the community,” said Aaron. “We have been looking at opportunities to deal with that.”

In addition to employing about 60 people, Aaron and Kent contribute to the community by sponsoring and donating to youth sports; they also feature local musicians at the Sully and support fundraisers for local groups and individuals. Though they personally keep a low profile, the Lees brothers are making a significant impact in Kimberley.

“We don’t have much time for volunteering, but we can do some financial support,” Aaron said. “I don’t know about being an influencer—we just get up and go to work every day.”

Click here to see the full list.