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Doors closing on Sasha's
Downtown Yellowknife businesswoman moving south after almost 30 years

Lyndsay Herman
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ever-changing downtown Yellowknife is saying goodbye to another familiar face. Sasha's Jewellery and Giftware is closing its doors after more than 26 years in its present location.

NNSL photo/graphic

Kerry Yamkowy is leaving the North after nearly 30 years of doing business in downtown Yellowknife, most recently as owner of Sasha's Jewellery and Giftware. - Lyndsay Herman/NNSL photo

Sasha's Jewellery and Giftware evolved out of the jewellery department in the original department store that occupied the building after it was constructed in 1968.

Sasha's current owner, Kerry Yamkowy, has been a business-owner in Yellowknife for just about the same length of time.

Although Yamkowy didn't purchase Sasha's Jewellery from Eileen Dent until 2004, she opened Key West Travel in 1985 and ran Secrets Lingerie from 1990 until about 1995.

"For the last 27 years I've been doing business on main street. Key West was right next door (to Sasha's)," Yamkowy said. "I've been at this location for a long time."

In that time, Yamkowy said she's seen a lot of changes downtown, although over the last few years some haven't been positive.

"The downtown core has changed so much that I hope the new city council can bring it back to what it was," she said.

"We've always had street people. The street people aren't the problem. They have to enforce the bylaws and it's not being done. They should have either bylaw officers or RCMP walking the streets and cleaning it up."

Additionally, Yamkowy said she would like to see community events such as Raven Mad Daze, the Caribou Carnival, a downtown Christmas Tree and a day-time Christmas parade return to downtown.

Free one-hour parking for shopping and programs which encourage mix-use commercial buildings with tax holidays are other initiatives the new city council could take to support downtown retailers, she said.

Yamkowy, who spent time in many Northern towns such as Inuvik and Whitehorse, said she has always considered Yellowknife the most "cosmopolitan" of Northern cities.

"It's been more like a big city," she said. "You could be in Yellowknife and meet people from all over the world but in 10 minutes you could be out in the wilderness where you wouldn't see people.

"I used to take my boat out to a little island and maybe not see anybody for three days. There's not that many places that you could really do that."

Yamkowy, who runs Sasha's along with her son, Jason, planned to operate the store from the south after she moved to Parksville, on B.C.'s Vancouver Island in April.

Once Jason decided to move to Victoria to purchase and operate a bistro, Yamkowy decided it was time to close the Yellowknife store for good.

Yamkowy said she plans to open a shop similar to Sasha's Jewellery in Nanaimo, B.C., only smaller in size.

The substantially cheaper cost of living in British Columbia as compared to the North made the move a "logical choice" for Yamkowy and her husband Dan, who are both semi-retired.

"It's not that we couldn't afford it. It's just like when the fuel here is $1,000 a month and the fuel there is $50 a month, the logic isn't to stay here, which is unfortunate," she said.

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