Barry Edge and Courtney Johnson of Image West Gallery and Gifts were thrilled to hear Image West’s named called out as Ucluelet’’s Business of the Year. (Photo - Andrew Bailey)

Ucluelet crowns Image West its Business of the Year

“Ucluelet is not really just a place, it’s a state of mind.”

Barry Edge has cemented his spot in the Ucluelet business community’s Hall of Fame.

Edge’s hometown expressed their appreciation of his Image West Gallery and Gifts store by crowning it Business of the Year.

Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce President Dian McCreary made the announcement at the Ukee Day’s closing ceremonies.

“A big congratulations goes out to Barry Edge and his partner in crime Courtney [Johnson],” she said.

“Barry loves doing things for this community.”

She said Edge has been a “star-supporter” of various local organizations and fundraising events and, each Christmas, puts together an Image West gift basket to raise funds for “wherever there’s a need in the community.”

Edge told the Westerly News he was “very surprised and happy” by the announcement and that the love he pours into the community mirrors the love he’s received from it.

“Ukee’s just a wonderful place to live and do business,” he said. “Thank you for all your support and we’ll continue to be here and give back and be an interesting business. If you’re not having fun at what you do, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Edge arrived in Ucluelet 30 years ago as a tourist from the Okanagan visiting family, but quickly found the community’s beautiful surroundings impossible to leave.

“It just got in my blood,” he said. “Ucluelet is not really just a place, it’s a state of mind.”

Turning a blind-eye to his engineering degree, Edge opened Image West inside the old Wreckage building, where Gryphon’s Lair currently resides.

“I’ve never looked at it as a business. If I had pursued my career that I came out of University for, I would probably have a little bit more financial stability, but this is a way of life,” he said.

After five years operating at the Wreckage, Edge’s lease came up and he considered moving to Tofino before purchasing the 1932 Peninsula Road location that he has operated out of since around 1992.

“We were just young kids in our mid-20’s and we didn’t want to leave, so here’s where we ended up,” he said.

He added he enjoys supporting local events like the Pacific Rim Whale Festival, Edge-to-Edge and Ukee Days while also helping local youth with employment opportunities.

“It all ties together with our lifestyle,” he said.

Edge’s partner Courtney Johnson was ecstatic by Edge’s well-deserved accolades.

“It’s really touching. I’ve worked with Barry for seven years and, of course, he’s my person,” she said. “Image West is not just a business; it’s an extension of who he is. It’s really obvious to me how much he loves Ucluelet and the people in it and, I think, that shows in how he runs Image West.”

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