Right to left, Grant Harris, Interior News publisher presents the award for Business of the Year to Nature’s Pantry’s Monica and Ali Howard. (Thom Barker photo)

Right to left, Grant Harris, Interior News publisher presents the award for Business of the Year to Nature’s Pantry’s Monica and Ali Howard. (Thom Barker photo)

Nature’s Pantry named Smithers District business of the year

The organic food store beat out Foodie Heaven and Riverside Kitchen for top honours

Nature’s Pantry is the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Year for 2022.

At the annual awards gala Nov. 25 at the Dze L K’ant Friendship Society hall, the holistic health and organic foods store on First Avenue beat out finalists Foodie Heaven and Riverside Kitchen to take home the top prize of the evening.

Owned by siblings Ali, Monica and Chris Howard since 2011, the store has grown and thrived over the past decade.

The nomination package highlighted friendliness; quality, knowledgeable service; and the business’s contributions to the community as deserving of the award.

The second top prize, Business Person of the Year, went to 28-year-old Emilie Schmidt, who in just two years has turned her passion for a zero-waste lifestyle into a busy, profitable business on Main Street called Rejar Zero Waste.

“She has taken the bring-your-own packaging idea and made it her own with a top-quality product mix driven by her research and her customer’s needs,” her nominator wrote.

Schmidt’s competitors as finalists were Breeann Doerksen of Bulkley Valley Hive & Honey and Dan Groot of Smithers Parts & Service (and SPS Mining Supplies).

The gala itself featured food by Riverside Kitchen, Blue Fin Sushi, The Roadhouse and Bulkley Valley Apple Fritters. Larkspur Floral and Plants fitted out the hall with elaborate decor.

Elijah Quinn provided live musical entertainment and a number of speakers, including Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Taylor Bachrach, Stikine MLA Nathan Cullen and Smithers mayor Gladys Atrill offered congratulations to all the businesses in the valley.

Full list of Awards Recipients:

BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Nature’s Pantry

BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR: Emilie Schmidt, ReJar Zero Waste

CITIZEN VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Lauren Williams

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE – BUSINESS: Smithers Feed Store

CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE – INDIVIDUAL: Austin Motz, Smithers Home Hardware

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION: Jordan Daviel, Smithers Secondary School

FAMILY FRIENDLY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Roi Theatre

HOME-BASED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Bloom Esthetics Boutique, Nadine Huisman

MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO ARTS & CULTURE: Kira Westby, Bulkley Valley Museum

PUBLIC SERVICE EXCELLENCE: Smithers Skate Park Society

TOURISM EXCELLENCE AWARD: Cycle 16 Society

YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR: Martin Rozario, Foodie Heaven

ZERO WASTE CIRCULAR ECONOMY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Bulkley Valley Hive & Honey

COMMUNITY IMPACT: Blaine Estby and Smithers Brewing Company

TELKWA BUSINESS LEADERSHIP AWARD: Ridgeline Physiotherapy

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