A bright autumn morning spent with Kendra Pugh and Jami Derejko of Bureaux Modern Mercantile, Downtown Abbotsford’s newest addition. Kendra started Bureaux as a modern, contemporary twist on the concept of a general store. Their shelves are lined with thoughtfully selected, unique finds for home, apothecary, apparel, kids and much more. Come wander around Bureaux’s wide open space with us and we guarantee you’ll spot some items to add to your Christmas list this season.
TFV: What was the defining moment that started Bureaux?
BMM: People often ask me if opening Bureaux was a dream come true, but to be honest, it wasn’t something I had realistically considered until the opportunity presented itself. It all started with an organic discussion after a family dinner with my brother-in-law, Randy (Ferrario), who had purchased an older building on the outskirts of Downtown Abbotsford and had begun revitalizing it for his office, as well as for some space for lease eventually. Coincidentally, it was a (usually vacant) brick-faced building that I had always adored growing up in Abbotsford, that still remained after a decade away from living in the valley. That night we began chatting about the type of business that would work there, the kind of business that we wanted to see in our town and what we felt was missing in the retail sector ~ by the end of the next day, Randy had suggested that I work with his company, Aprario Group, to build out my vision.
I was happily employed as an Operations Manager with Field House Brewing (on Maternity Leave at the time), but felt that this was an incredible opportunity afforded to me that simply couldn’t be passed up (despite the voices in my head asking how I would do it with two small children). Looking back now, I feel like every role I held formerly prepared me for Bureaux in some way and that it may, in fact, have been my dream all along. From visual merchandising, sales co-ordination and buying to operations management, I’ve taken something from each position that has served me well throughout the concept, development and execution of Bureaux.
TFV: What’s the story behind the name of your business?
BMM: Naming a business is hard (particularly for someone who pores over decisions) and I found that the design and visuals of the store came to me much easier. I was very visually inspired by modern European hotels and small scale department stores in New York; I knew I wanted the shop to have the feeling of being in a specialty department store, where you could wander and browse for as long as you liked, find a treasure and have a great customer experience from start to finish. Thus, Bureaux, seemed appropriate ~ both definitions of the word (a department, a small chest of drawers) seemed to work and I liked how the French spelling of the word correlated with the modern European look of the store. I didn’t realize how much it would throw people when pronouncing it though, haha.
TFV: What do you look for in the products you carry?
BMM: My goal was to source and bring in unique and modern items that I had trouble finding in the Canadian marketplace; to try to limit the reasons for cross-border shopping or for hopping in the car to drive to a shop in Vancouver. I figured that there were others out there, with tastes similar to myself, who wanted to see this in their community too. Good design, quality, uniqueness, brands who pay attention to detail in translating their story… these are all things I look for when deciding what to stock my shelves with.
TFV: What would be some Christmas gifts you recommend at Bureaux?
BMM: I’m a big fan of books and we have plenty of them at Bureaux. They’re something that can be thoughtfully chosen and enjoyed over and over again (and passed down). If you have a coffee or tea lover on your list, a beautiful Chemex coffee brewer or Fellow Tea Kettle + Steeper would make the perfect gift. We also have a lot of apothecary products for men and women that are naturally and thoughtfully formulated, so treating someone to a little package of indulgent, self-care products is a nice idea. Aside from that, a handmade piece of jewellery from Portland brand, Seaworthy, or a James Brand knife or VSSL are no fail options. On my own list ~ our new Danish cone and taper candles that come in a variety of colours (although I probably won’t be able to wait until Christmas for these as they’ll be perfect decoration for holiday entertaining), a beautiful handmade carafe from ceramic brand, Pigeon Toe, and a Homecoming candle (always, a candle). On my kids’ list, a Playpa Roll by Olli Ella, a cute necklace from Meri Meri and some wooden blocks by Polish brand, Wooden Story. For my husband, a Bellroy wallet, a new pair of Vans and a bar of ‘Bad Boy’ by new soap brand, Anto Yukon.
TFV: What is your favourite winter tradition in the Fraser Valley?
BMM: I love driving by the Christmas light display on Old Yale Rd. each year. They’ve been going up since I was a young girl and now my husband and I love to drive by with our little family, often with a hot chocolate in hand and Christmas tunes playing. We’ll put our hazards on and drive by slowly. I always think, how wonderful is it that these people do this year after year and ask nothing in return?
TFV: What are some local IG accounts you like to follow in the Valley?
BMM: Old Hand Coffee for their mouth-watering pics of baking and their natural light, Confetti Floral for Kari’s gorgeous floral masterpieces, Field House Brewing for their experiences and events, my favourite local ceramicist, Cathy Terepocki, to drool over her creations and Bocaru Concepts ~ love Alek’s beautiful imagery and the global treasures she finds.
TFV: What local businesses inspire you? Why?
BMM: I was fortunate to be hired by Josh Vanderheide with Field House Brewing when I had come off my first maternity leave. Through Josh, I learned the importance of paying attention to details, both big and small, and controlling your brand. He built a business that wasn’t just ‘good enough for Abbotsford’, but rather a business and experience that would be exceptional if it were picked up and dropped anywhere. He continues to inspire me with his non-stop drive to empower others and build our community. Spruce Collective, Old Hand/Little Brother and The Habit Project also inspire me and are businesses that are helping to change the perception of valley living (half of them also run a business while having small children which I know is HARD).
I’d be remiss not to mention Aprario Group as an inspirational local business ~ with their support, I’ve been able to design and build Bureaux exactly as I perceived it in my head. From just a seed of an idea, they blindly trusted in me to execute my vision while providing me with the means to do so ~ a pretty incredible thing for an entrepreneur.
City or Country?
I find my answer to this question slowly changing the older I get. Five years ago, I would’ve said a resounding CITY, but now I find myself somewhere in between. I love the lights, abundant eating and drinking options and great shops of the city, but most often now I find myself happy to return home ~ content with a slower pace and quieter surroundings. There’s a lot of amazing things being carved out in the Fraser Valley too, so there’s becoming less reason to leave. But if it’s between Paris and country, I choose Paris.
Morning brew or evening wine?
Morning brew ~ I look forward to it the night before, haha. I’m not sure it’s the caffeine or the ritual that I am more addicted to… although my husband would laugh because I’m known for pouring a coffee and not drinking it too.
Winter or summer?
I love different things about each season, but if I had to choose one over the other, winter would probably win out. I can be a homebody, so I love quiet evenings (which seem more frequent in Winter), getting comfy with a hot drink and big blanket, crisp air, cozy sweaters and I love Christmas… despite being in the retail business…or maybe because I’m in the retail business?
Stripes or polkadots?
Stripes. They’re classic and consistent. Polkadots, well, they’re all over the place (haha).
TFV: What is your favourite thing about living in the Fraser Valley?
BMM: I love that, living in the Fraser Valley, we’re surrounded by beauty everywhere we look. I don’t think I appreciated it much growing up here, always longing to move away, but now that I’ve lived here as an adult with children, I love being surrounded by mountains and lakes and farms. It’s such a cool thing to expose our kids to ~ the juxtaposition of driving down long farm roads with old barns and then into our thriving downtown ~ makes me really grateful for where we live.
TFV: In your own words, how would you define the Fraser Valley community?
BMM: The community I’ve been exposed to in the Fraser Valley is genuine, passionate, hard working and dedicated to engaging and empowering other community members and businesses.
TFV: If you were a destination, where would you be?
BMM: A relaxing spa off the grid that serves only pasta and plays Rom Coms. Oh wait, that’s where I want to be!
With large windows that guarantee to draw any window shopper into their beautiful naturally lit space, it is Bureaux’s friendly faces and cheerful nature that makes a shopper want to stay. Thanks to their diverse selection of quality goods and outstanding customer service, Bureaux Modern Mercantile is one of the top places to shop this Christmas season.