Regina store makes sure every day is full of 2SLBTQ+ Pride

In Regina's north-central neighbourhood a business has made it their job to offer Pride products all year around.

Rooney's Handmade Scents & Gift Shop has been open in Seller Block Marketplace on Albert Street for four years.

But what started as a homemade soap and candle business has evolved into much more, according to Jesse Walker, the store's owner and operator.

"We didn't see a Pride store or anything available in the city for the gay community," Walker said.

A row of Pride-themed buttons is shown on a shelf at Rooney's Handmade Scents & Gift Shop in Regina.
A wall at Rooney's Handmade Scents & Gift Shop in Regina features a row of Pride-themed buttons. (Tyreike Reid/CBC)

That's why he began stocking rainbow-coloured and pride-themed items all year around.

Shirts, mugs, pins, ties and balloons stretched from the ceiling to the floor during a recent visit to the store.

Walker's partner is Dave  Bychkowsky. As a gay couple they both say it's important to be inclusive.

"We want them to know they're safe to come in and don't be afraid. And this is a safe space for shopping because we're the same as they are," Walker said.

The store is even able to feature products from local artists and creators who are part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community.

That includes Adrienne Poier, owner of Paper Flowers.

"I really appreciate that they're part of the LGBTQ community because there's been this big inflation of what we call corporate pride, where corporations are like, 'It's pride month'… and they generally don't care about the community at all," Poier said. "So it's just nice to be able to buy the products from a local business who is in the community in more ways than one."

Adrienne Poier poses for a photo with her partner Eva McLean. Poier is a vendor for Rooney's Handmade Scents & Gift Shop
Adrienne Poier, left, and her partner Eva McLean. Poier is a vendor at Rooney's Handmade Scents & Gift Shop (Tyreike Reid/CBC)

Poier said that although she is fairly new to Regina, it's rare to see a shop that offers Pride products all year around.

She said it's also helpful to know that they have somewhere safe they can go where they are welcomed.

Poier's partner, Eva McLean, recently came out as transgender.

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The couple have had hateful words yelled at them from passing cars while out for a walk.

"Even if we don't get anything, we just know we can come in here and we're welcome," McLean said.

Poier agrees, adding that putting money into a locally owned queer business is a bonus.

Bychkowsky, who sometimes helps around the shop, says there are "awesome" moments that make the business worthwhile.

"We get a lot of grandparents that come in here and they say that their granddaughter came out and they want to get this pin or this special thing to celebrate them."