H&G: Welcome Home

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A new store in Stayner is an outlet for creativity and independence.

Welcome Home is a Culham family project with the involvement of mom Tamara, dad Larry, and daughter Lillias.

It is ticking several boxes by making good use of their main street commercial building, enhancing the Stayner downtown by adding a retail business, and supporting local artisans.

Tamara said the decision to open a store was made because of two milestones. Larry and Tamara decided to transition out of their real estate brokerage and join Coldwell Banker as sales representatives. The pandemic made them realize that they didn’t need a bricks and mortar office space,freeing up their storefront.

At the same time Lillias, 22, was graduating from the two-year Community Integration Through Co- operative Education Ontario College Certificate program at Georgian College, designed for students with diverse learning challenges who require academic accommodations and modifications as they prepare for success in entry-level work, and build independence and self-advocacy skills for adult life.

During field placements in retail settings Lillias, who is on the autism spectrum, thrived in customer service settings, enjoying the interactions with customers.

This inspired Tamara to try her hand at retail, and to incorporate Lillias’ new skills.

Welcome Home is all about art, decor and plants.

“These are all of my favourite things,” says Tamara, looking around the store.

While Lillias is outside planting pansies, Tamara is working on mosaic birdhouses made from shattered dishes that are mismatched and chipped.

It is one of the ways she upcycles materials into home and garden themed treasures.

Her love of gardening is reflected in the aesthetics – an old garden hose creatively transformed into a wreath, stained glass, plants potted in vintage dishes, lamps repurposed as candle holders, and solar chandeliers.

“Take all these things and throw them into a blender and you get a store,” says Tamara.

Welcome Home also carries handmade luxurious blankets, candles, crystals, jewellery, made by local crafters, along with Tamara’s father’s woodworking and resin creations,

This month, the front part of the store is packed with seedlings of all kinds to support Tamara’s mission to encourage people to grow their own food. The expansive backyard of the building is being cultivated bit by bit to include garden plots and fruit trees with the eventual goal of creating a “food forest.”

The Culhams, supporters of Stayner’s downtown core, hope their endeavour will enhance the main street as a retail destination for locals and visitors. It is their goal to create a destination by always carrying new things, enticing people to come to Stayner to explore the cute little shops, many carrying home decor, but also specialty foods, comic books, used books, women’s fashion and shoes.

Welcome Home is located at 7280 Highway 26.

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