Checking in with #BuyBasin Festival and featured business Big Eddy Glass Works

Until Nov. 10, local businesses, producers and artists are going live for the #BuyBasin Festival, a virtual event hosted by Columbia Basin Trust. Multiple Revelstoke favourites are on the lineup, including featured business Big Eddy Glass Works.

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Big Eddy Glass Works owner Leah Allison with one of her glass vase creations filled with a bouquet by Bird Tree Urban Farms. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The second edition of the #BuyBasin Festival is underway, promoting local businesses through livestreams, giveaways, and more. 

From Oct. 18 to Nov. 10, Columbia Basin Trust presents the #BuyBasin Festival. The online event is hosted through social media, using Facebook and Instagram livestream features. Local businesses from across the Columbia Valley are invited to participate.

About 100 businesses and performers are joining this year’s lineup, bringing expert tips, giveaways, demos and live music to online viewers. Big Eddy Glass Works, Stoke the Fire Hotsauce, Moxie Marketing and Acoustic Ink Tattoos are representing Revelstoke in this virtual event. 

Watch: Big Eddy Glass Works fires up a live glassblowing demonstration on Oct. 20, part of the #BuyBasin Festival Lineup.

The full #BuyBasin Festival lineup is available on Columbia Basin Trust’s official website, in addition to past livestream events.

Several Revelstoke businesses have upcoming livestreams to tune into:

Moxie Marketing, live on Instagram at 1 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Stoke the Fire Hotsauce, live on Facebook and Instagram at 1 p.m. on Oct. 28.

Acoustic Ink Tattoos, live on Facebook and Instagram at 11 a.m. on Nov. 4.

FestivalSeekers, one of the hosts of the #BuyBasin Festival, is giving away $50 every week to spend at your favourite local businesses.
Simply share a video from the #BuyBasin Festival to Facebook or your Instagram story for a chance to win.

#BuyBasin Business Feature: Big Eddy Glass Works

It was a hot, smoky August day when I walked into Big Eddy Glass Works to a meeting with owner and glass creator Leah Allison. We’ve done several stories about Leah Allison and her art over the years, including a story shot at her old studio down the road, but never a proper intro to the new studio and retail Big Eddy Glass Works. I took a blank slate approach on this story, just asking about what she wanted to talk about. It turned out to be a good one, because what she shared about what she’s got going on carries the story by itself. 🙂

Big Eddy Glass Works has been open for three years this June and has survived and thrived through some tough economic times, or as owner Leah Allison puts it, “The challenge is keeping our store stocked.”

The glass works shop located in the Big Eddy creates a broad range of artistic and practical glass, and combines a creator space and retail space with something for everyone.

Glass vases with fresh flowers from Bird Tree Urban Farm at Big Eddy Glass Works. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Allison and I sat on the bench box on the patio for the interview. A family of four in a camper van came and went, the kids stoked on the many things to look at and some touch, including children’s recycled polished glass rocks and many other kid-level displays. Revelstoke pro photographer Bruno Long came to pick up some glassware for a photo shoot. Kristina Metzlaff from Bird Tree Urban Farm dropped off fresh cut organic flowers grown in Southside, destined for display in an artisanal glass vase. The first sprinkles of rain in forever started falling, and loud thunderclaps rumbled from a distance.

Owner Leah Allison has been in the business for 19 years, first apprenticing at Bavin Glassworks in Invermere, even commuting for work there for four years after relocating to Revelstoke. She then worked from a home studio under the Glass Duck brand she displayed at galleries and shows in town. Three years ago she struck out with the new retail studio and brand.

“Since I started, I’m like, ‘This is what I’m doing now,’” Allison explained.

A few of the hundreds of Revelstoke-made glass items for sale at Big Eddy Glass Works. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The retail location carries all kinds of local creations. Glasses, bottles, cups, vases, artistic creations, glass balls, recycled glass stones, DIY kits, beads, sand-blasted glass creations, garden tiles, bulk glass, beads and more — all glass. You can feel the heat from the glass furnace and kilns as you peruse the shop.

The team at Big Eddy Glass Works now includes Hunter Haig, apprentice glassblower and workshop instructor; Ariel Hill, glassblower; Meghan Porath, workshop instructor and marketing; and Tyler Kathol, flameworker and workshop instructor.

Unique cocktail glasses created by Big Eddy Glass Works. Photo: Big Eddy Glass Works

Big Eddy Glass Works also does a lot of classes and workshops, allowing everyone to try their hand at a variety of glass art projects.

What struck me most and hence the headline was Allison’s ambitious plans for expansion, on a scale that could serve as an anchor for an arts hub in the Big Eddy.

Allison bought the adjacent lot with two old but large warehouse spaces. One is occupied by Metal Mind Forge, which is a very cool artisanal metal manufacturer who have their garage shutters rolled up and some retails sales. The other warehouse space is a former commercial truck service centre. Allison said one of her visions for the space is an operation on a manufacturing scale and is confident there are market opportunities. She said it’s just something she’s always wanted to do.

DJ Spanda plays a set at Bites and Bevys in the Big Eddy on Friday, August 13. Big Eddy Glass Works hosts
mini outdoor festivals on Friday the 13ths, bringing in a big art, food and music crowd to the events.
Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

She’s working on getting four electric vehicle charging stations as part of a planned upgrade of the currently unpaved large front of the lot. She plans to use some of the underutilized front parking space to expand the building, including a front space with retail and socializing space that integrates with the new parking and road, and also allows the Friday the 13th block parties to continue. “I’m getting a bigger disco ball that this one,” said Allison, motioning the current one.

New Revelstoke food truck Lucky Pup is planning to locate their soon.

Big Eddy Glass Works is known for their evening parking lot socials, which are held on Friday the 13ths. The August 2021 event featured crafts, food vendors, food trucks and a DJ party in the parking lot and drew hundreds of people. Look out for future events.

Video montage: The Bites & Bevys event at Big Eddy Glass

@revelstokemountaineer

Check out shots from Bites & Bevys hosted by Big Eddy Glass Works in Revelstoke, B.C. On Aug. 13. #Revelstoke #RevelstokeMountaineer #BigEddy

♬ Zee – Aza Nabuko

Allison said she draws inspiration from Kicking Horse Coffee CEO, Elena Rosenfeld, who created a large regional company from the small town of Invermere. “I want to be known in Canada for Big Eddy Glass,” Allison said, adding that she sees opportunity in the artisanal glass market, which she says is a fairly small community in Canada. “Everyone has to innovate and change the way things are done,” she said.

Anyway, I hope I left you with the impression that Leah’s a creative force and a dynamo with a lot going on, because that’s the impression I got again. A lot of that focus is on the main route in the Big Eddy, which could add an anchor to a vicinity where there’s been increased home manufacturing and some new retail activity.

Arts reporting often focuses on the art itself, sometimes leaving out the business side of things. However, arts and crafts are a pretty big business in many mountain communities, and Allison sees the same potential here.

Finding ways to recycle and reduce waste are part of Big Eddy Glass Works’ practices, including these tumbled glass pieces. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

Allison is talented and determined. The first story I wrote about her was on a glass dress she exhibited at Revelstoke Visual Arts Centre, a stunning piece woven with thousands of red glass links. Looking at the wearable creation, it’s obvious that it took an incredible amount of focus and determination to see it through. Allison has now established a retail location, and is putting more pieces together as she builds her final creation in the Big Eddy.