There has been a push over many years to eat and shop local. It only makes sense – eat as fresh as possible and support our neighbours and the communities we live in. The past 18 months, and more so, the past two months, have elevated that desire and necessity, both economically and socially. This has led us to want to feature a special store in St. Vital Centre that has been doing this for years, first for the aboriginal community, then the hungry tourist market, and now the majority of shoppers who enjoy beauty, craftsmanship, and want to make an impact in the lives of others nearby. Marilyn Tanner-Spence, co-owner of Teekca’s Aboriginal Boutique, shares with us how Teekca’s came to be and the story of the goods they sell.
Q. What are customers most surprised by when they visit your Teekca’s?
I have so many stories. They are surprised by the diverse product that we have from umbrellas to bedding that are Indigenous in design. When I first opened in St. Vital Centre I had a young couple come into the store and say "this makes me so proud to be Aboriginal, this store is so beautiful". This made me feel really good. I had another person say it is so good to come and be able to browse and not feel pressured.
Q. What made you decide to open Teekca's in St. Vital Centre? Why do you like being in the Centre?
I wanted to see how Teekca's Boutique would do in a mainstream setting. We have been in the Forks Market for 15 years and doing well, but the location is geared for tourists. People also told me they would like to shop where it is easy to park.
Q. Can you tell me a bit about the items that are handmade and where some may come from?
We have local crafters plus crafters from across Canada and into the USA. We trade with many tribes in North America. I work with many young people and some that are in their 80's.
Q. You make the Bear oils and salves yourself? Tell us a bit about those items?
Bear oils are made by a Metis company just outside of Winnipeg. They are the only company in Manitoba to be granted a licence to sell bear grease and oil product. It helps with healing and growing hair back.
Q. What is something you want people to know about the store?
Teekca's Boutique is owned and operated by my Husband Walter Spence, Foxlake Cree Nation, and Marilyn Tanner-Spence, Waywayseecappo. We have worked hard to source product from North America. We work with many micro businesses who go on to become more and more successful. Small micro to setting up at events and then into retail.
Q. What is your favourite item or category of product that you carry?
We do some of our own designs and get them made here in Winnipeg. They are items like mugs that say Thank you in the 5 indigenous languages in Manitoba. We do a lot of custom items like skirts for ceremonies and even custom moccasins that are hard to fit for some people. We have a customer from the USA who wears a size 20 shoe that is getting us to do moccasins for him. I really don't know how he found us when he lives in Texas, but he did. Word of mouth is a great thing. We also do many beaded products for customers.
Q. What does the future hold for Teekca’s?
We are building our website and should have that up and running in the next few weeks. We hope to reach so many people who can’t travel to our locations but are looking for that special gift or personal item they can’t find anywhere else.
We’d love to hear about your visit to Teekca’s and what surprised you – share your thoughts on Instagram or Facebook.