Stretched out and grey and half buried in the ground, the streetscape to many passersby was somewhat depressing.
Like any true artist, however, Buchanan didn’t see what was before. She saw what it could be.
At the time she was a part time photographer and had never seriously considered going into business. But she saw potential where others considered leveling the building.
“When I looked at it I didn’t see all the work it needed I saw the end product and what it could be,” she said.
Today the five-unit business complex is filled with an eclectic mix of businesses.
Her son Alex Buchanan was the first tenant. He strived to create a functional and cool space, Harbourtone Productions, where he successfully has been running his recording studio.
Lisa Buchanan set up a gallery at first to showcase her own photography but it is now is filled with local artists. She is shipping some of their work to customers internationally. She also was able to expand her business to include music supplies and passport, visa, citizenship and firearms licensing photos.
She said in a small town you can’t just do one thing.
Southwest Employment Services – a provincial government agency – moved into the space. Buchanan said it was an excellent addition.
Mortgage Architects and seller of life insurance and monuments also took residence in the business space.
The latest tenant is Classic Connection Custom Tattooing who was moving in the first part of June.
When Buchanan first bought the building she made a goal for herself – to have the building filled within five years, a goal she just met.
Despite reaching his goal, she said it has not been an easy five years.
“If we had any idea of how much work and money it would have been, we probably wouldn’t have done it,” she admits.
But she and her husband Chet dug in and day by day, unit by unit, transformed the space into its bright, funky and upgraded space it is today. Buchanan remembers the building as it was when she purchased it.
“It was a horrible place,” she said. “We were its last hope. It would have been condemned.”
With her artful eye and hard work, she transformed not only the building, but also the streetscape.
“I brought colour,” she said. “I changed the face of King Street.”
She has some words of advice for anyone thinking of going into business themselves.
“If you want something, take that risk, work long and hard,” she said. “Small towns like ours don’t need big box stores like Walmart. We need small businesses, they are the life of the town.”