By Meg Olson
Auntie Pam’s Country Store is celebrating its successful campaign to garner 250 online votes and qualify for a $100,000 grant. Their application now moves on to the judges’ table and in September they will learn whether they will get one of 20 $100,000 Mission Main Street Grants, a program run by Chase Bank.
“I am beyond elated. I am so excited,” said owner Pamala Sheppard. “I want to keep this little store going and the way to do that is to expand the wholesale division. This grant would let me do that.”
Auntie Pam’s sells everything from jewelry to cookies, but features Sheppard’s line of handmade organic body care products. Manufactured in her Point Roberts workshop, products include soaps, lotions, bath products and natural healing solutions. A favorite is Survival Spray, which Sheppard describes as a fist aid kit in a bottle, effective for relieving sunburn, insect bites, shingles, athlete’s foot and other skin conditions. Last summer Sheppard said they sold 1,800 bottles of Kool Off, their “poison free” mosquito repellant and cooling spray from the store, which also stocks everything from sunhats to candy.
This year she began offering the products on eBay and says she now sells about eight bottles a day. A few weeks ago she began selling the products wholesale, and they are now being carried at Blue Door Interiors in Ladner, B.C. and in Leavenworth, Washington. “There’s a great potential here,” she said.
To expand, Sheppard said she will need additional equipment and more staff – she currently employs three people.
“If I could buy more professional equipment it would enhance my ability to produce,” Sheppard said. “My staff would grow as my business grows.”
A thriving wholesale division will give stability to the store “by forming a strong financial foundation that won’t be influenced by the dollar, seasons or the weather.”
The first step to qualify for a grant was getting 250 votes online. Auntie Pam’s hit that mark on June 18. Voting closed on the June 19 and by that time the store had more than 300 votes. The store’s application moves on to a jury, which will select grant recipients at the end of the summer.
“Someone has to win,” Sheppard said, “and no matter what happens this has really sharpened my focus.”