Helma Swinkels started Pot Luck Ceramics with her friend Val Startup and a group of forward-thinking volunteers 10 years ago. She is embracing the profit-for-non-profit’s successes as she faces closing the Pot Luck cottage on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni in September 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Pot Luck Ceramics closes ground-breaking social enterprise

Port Alberni store celebrates successes in face of COVID-19

Nine years after opening its doors, Pot Luck Ceramics is closing—a victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather than focus on the negative, founder Helma Swinkels chooses to celebrate the successes of Port Alberni’s unique “profit for non-profit” as she winds down sales at the picturesque cottage on Gertrude Street.

The Port Alberni Fundraising Co-op Society was formed 10 years ago, and Pot Luck Ceramics—the for-profit part of the co-op—first opened nine years ago in a barn on Swinkels’ property. She bought and renovated the cottage five years ago, and a team of founders and volunteers has kept it thriving since then.

When the pandemic forced closure of businesses around the world, Pot Luck suffered. The ceramics are imported from a small factory in Catalonia, Spain, which was hard hit by COVID-19. Swinkels has had difficulty reaching anyone at the factory in months, and the importation process has also been affected.

She worries about the effect of COVID-19 on her volunteers, too.

“COVID is the main culprit,” she said of the closing.

Pot Luck has raised almost $190,000 for several Port Alberni charities, mostly the Ty Watson House Hospice. The business has received awards and recognition for its innovative approach to fundraising: a Vancouver Island Business Excellence award in 2013 for Community Leadership; a nomination the same year for the Prime Minister’s Volunteer Award in the Social Innovator category; and special recognition from the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Swinkels hopes to keep the vision alive, even though Pot Luck Ceramics won’t be open anymore. “The vision is still alive: profit for non-profit,” she said. The Port Alberni Fundraising Co-op Society will host an AGM sometime in October and discuss where to go from here.

Pot Luck Ceramics will be open by appointment only until the end of September. Phone Swinkels at 250-720-4946 or 250-731-6463 to make an appointment. Follow their Facebook page at facebook.com/potluckceramics/ for information.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional DistrictCharity and DonationsCoronavirusfundraisingPort Alberni

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Helma Swinkels started Pot Luck Ceramics with her friend Val Startup and a group of forward-thinking volunteers 10 years ago. She is embracing the profit-for-non-profit’s successes as she faces closing the Pot Luck cottage on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni in September 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Just Posted

Third brewery on the way for Port Alberni

Alberni Brewing Company hopes to open in early 2021

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

Port Alberni long-term care home gets new bath chair

Westhaven residents say thanks to WCGH Foundation for donation

Port Alberni RCMP searching for missing 43-year-old man

Maxime Ouellet is known to camp in wooded areas around Port Alberni

LOOK BACK: A journey of time in Port Alberni

Take a peek at Port Alberni’s history with the Alberni Valley Museum

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Most Read