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)

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

 

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)

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

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data showing new cases by local health area for the week of May 2-8. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island COVID-19 local case counts the lowest they’ve been all year

On some areas of Island, more than 60 per cent of adults have received a vaccine dose

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
B.C. forestry watchdog finds lack of compliance in Nahmint logging

Forest Practices Board says old growth and biodiversity near Port Alberni are at risk

Port Alberni Fire Dept. deputy chief Wes Patterson, right, and another firefighter monitor the front of a garage at Second Avenue and Argyle Street that burned on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Fire starts in empty garage on Argyle Street in Port Alberni

Garage was attached to empty multi-storey commercial building

A painting by Port Alberni artist Robert Hall. Hall uses a technique called Abstract Impressionism. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artist showcases abstract impressionism

Robert Hall’s paintings on display at Rollin Art Centre until May 29

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

RCMP outside the Nanaimo Ice Centre investigating a report of a suspicious person. The incident resulted in hold-and-secures at two nearby schools, but those emergency procedures have now been lifted. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Man walking around Nanaimo marsh with airsoft rifle concerning to police and nearby schools

Two schools went into hold-and-secure procedures Thursday, May 13

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Most Read