When Frieda Home saw an untapped niche market in the Comox Valley, her fundraising genius took over.
She called upon Valley newcomer Ernst Vegt to lend a hand, and between the two of them, a plan was set in motion to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Comox Valley Food Bank.
The niche market?
“I moved to the Comox Valley in 1998, and the first thing I looked for was something to send to people in Vancouver, and in Europe – friends and relatives – and I looked for calendars, because that was the obvious thing to send,” she said. “I went to book stores, I went to the art galleries, and there wasn’t anything. Every year I would go, and every year I was disappointed.”
Queue Mr. Vegt – a graphic arts colour specialist and owner of Coast Imaging Arts, Inc.
Frieda said he is the biggest reason her brainchild became a reality.
“Even though I have wanted to produce this type of a calendar since my husband and I moved to the Valley in 1998, it was not possible until Ernst, with his expertise and impressive credentials, moved to the Valley two years ago,” she said.
Frieda and Ernst received the first edition of the calendars last week, and should they sell out the lot of 1,000, at $20 apiece, they will reach their target.
Philanthropy, with benefits
It’s a clever way for the people of the Comox Valley to benefit from their own philanthropy.
Calendars are one of the few items that have withstood the digital onslaught of the 21st century. Despite the inventions of smartphones, tablets and other hand-held computers – virtually all with built-in calendar apps – one would still be hard-pressed to enter a home or business and not find at least one hard-copy calendar on a wall.
And the biggest selling point of any calendar is its theme.
From dogs to cats, tattoos to toadstools, there’s a calendar out there featuring nearly every subject.
Now the Comox Valley can be added to that list.
Frieda and Ernst called upon the community’s shutterbugs to supply the art for the product, and they came through in remarkable fashion.
“We had about 150 images to choose from, and that was a bit of a chore,” said Ernst. “We wanted images from all over – Hornby, Denman, up the Valley and up to Oyster River.
“Then we had to make them fit the season, and do it in a way that would attract tourism and hopefully, ultimately, contribute to the local economy.”
Frieda, Ernst, and the photographers of the Comox Valley did a commendable job of capturing the spirit of this part of the country.
From kayaking down the Puntledge and swimming in Strathcona Park, to the Hornby Island sandstone formations and a bald eagle in flight, every photo is an honest representation of the Comox Valley.
There is even a shot of a snow-covered Comox wharf walkway enveloped in the fog, just to let everyone know that, yes, we do see snow from time to time.
“What we tried to do is make it truly Comox Valley,” said Ernst, noting that even the highlighted dates on the calendar are Comox Valley-specific.
“There is no Martin Luther King Day, or Presidents’ Day or what have you. We put as many festivals as we could get (2015) dates for, and put some details about not only the photograph, but some other snippets of information about our community that might attract people to the Valley, whether for a visit, or to do some business, or to buy a house, or what have you.”
Plans for 2016
Frieda said there are already plans for the 2016 calendar, with more categories to be introduced.
“There is so much of the Valley that we didn’t even cover this year,” she said. “What we are going to do for next year is give a list of images that we are looking for: We don’t have any agriculture shots in this one; there are no wineries. There is so much more we want to show.”
Should the first run of 2015 calendars sell out, there is an opportunity to order another lot.
“We would love to sell out, and reorder,” said Ernst. “Hopefully they take off real well and we have to order more soon.”
That may become reality sooner than expected. Sales have been brisk so far. Five per cent of the available calendars were purchased in the first three days of availability.
The 2015 Comox Valley calendars are already available at Coastal Community Credit Union (all three locations), Blue Heron Book Store and Laughing Oyster Book Store.
They will be available at the Comox Valley Exhibition, and Frieda will also be at the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market Saturday mornings, whenever she can get a table.