FRIDAY FEATURE: Bertie’s General Store in Black Diamond, Alberta

“It all happened very fast,” Jolene told me of the opening of Bertie’s in Black Diamond.

This week’s Friday Feature is on Bertie’s, a Black Diamond, Alberta gem.

Bertie’s General Store, 206 Government Road, Black Diamond, Alberta

Jolene and Isis have been friends for roughly ten years now. About three years ago they began to discuss the possibility of opening a shop together. They had dreamt it would include an apothecary, vintage clothing, records, antiques and plants.

Not long after, they opened a booth at Makers and Growers market running at The Westwood Restaurant. This is where they first discovered how well they work together.

The Blakeman Store – oldest building in Black Diamond rich with local history, conveniently became available for rent. This building, built in 1909 according to an article in Okotoks Today, became the General Store around 1922. Many folks still come into this store remembering the days when Bill and Bertie Blakeman owned it. Bertie is actually who they named the shop after, which is a beautiful way to pay homage to the historical aspect of this building! You can read more about the history of the store HERE!

Jolene, shop owner.

It just seemed “meant to be” according to Jolene.  She and Isis had a meeting under the bridge down by the Sheep River where they created their wish list for their store. What better place to go to dream?!

Jolene’s part of the business includes vintage and some gently used clothing. All of the pieces you will find there are delightfully eclectic. She loves polka dots, stripes, sparkles, florals, acid wash and other vibrant pieces. She’s often found hunting for treasures in small towns and estate sales when she’s not physically in the building.  Jolene has had a passion for fashion her entire life, citing how much she loved shopping with her mom as a child.

Jolene loves the ethical side of reusing and upcycling these quality vintage pieces, as well as the cost factor of not purchasing brand new expensive items in the mall. She often finds ways to repurpose old pieces to make them fashionable for today’s trends.

A view inside Bertie’s General Store, Black Diamond, Alberta.

Jolene shared that Bertie’s co-owner Isis grew up wandering the forests and this has always been a part of who she is. She has carried this through to her portion of the business in so many ways. Many of the recipes for her balms are  passed down from her grandmother. She also makes herbal teas and bath salts. You will often find her foraging in the forest for item to make her balms, teas and bath salts.

Rumour has it that the Sheep River Tea is one of the BEST you can get at Bertie’s!

I was so grateful that Jolene agreed to “style” me for this creative project/photoshoot. Mary Clarke Photography felt that with the delicate slip and satin-esque (I think I made that word up) robe, it was entirely necessary that there be smoke bombs. I thought this was hilariously fun, and I was gladly up for the challenge of trying not to burn myself while also looking… sultry? No, I don’t think I could pull of sultry if I tried, but I did go for a bit of expressive drama as one could only expect with smoke bombs and satin-esque slips (now I’m over-utilizing my made up word).

Fun with smoke bombs. Photo credit – Mary Clarke Photography.

The highlight of the smoke bomb portion of the shoot was when Mary said “just don’t breathe in the smoke.” Fast forward a few seconds and I was literally enveloped in smoke, trying not to laugh or breathe and hoping the photos were at least going to come out looking moderately attractive. Mary worked some serious photographic magic, and I was morethan impressed with the outcome!

Photo Credit: Mary Clarke Photography.

The second piece was a lovely and playful floral dress. It involved lots of laughs, since I struggle to follow instructions, and I tend to stand around like some sort of wild yeti moreso than a lady in a dress. “Move like this? What do you mean? Wait, you want me to what? Shall I look off in the distance like I’m in a Sears portrait?” Chase and I had those done once, they were magical. Maybe magical was not quite exactly how they turned out, it was a long time ago, and my memory is foggy. Rest assured, Mary does not take Sears portraits and she really did an amazing job of guiding me to not look like a lost yeti.

Photo credit: Mary Clarke Photography

There were a pile of other dresses we didn’t get to as the sun was beginning to set, but what I will tell you is that Jolene really does have an eye for style. Go there. Tell her to dress you. Wait. She will bring you pretty things you never would have tried on. She will teach you the purpose and importance of owning a slip (because I’m kind of hopeless when it comes to fashion and I had no idea how useful that would be – especially since I was wearing dark purple underwear when I showed up to try stuff on – rookie move Bosch). She will make you want to come back for more incredible items!

Then you can buy locally made tea from Isis, head home and enjoy a cup (hot or iced) while you ponder your purchases.

Jolene in her element.

You can search the Bertie’s Babes on social media here:

Jolene: www.instagram.com/bertiesvintage_

Isis: www.instagram.com/tender.living.farm

Berties General Store: www.instagram.com/bertiesgeneralstore

Or better yet, you can find them in person at 206 Government Road, Black Diamond.

The best way to sum up the feel of Bertie’s in a few words is this:  Purveyors of the Prairies.

“Purveyors of the Prairies”

Photography (of me) by: www.instagram.com/maryclarkephotography

Make up by: www.instagram.com/audra.mcgregor

In store photography by: ME

2 thoughts on “FRIDAY FEATURE: Bertie’s General Store in Black Diamond, Alberta

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I’m loving these Friday features! I do love going two Bertie’s. It’s like stepping back in time. It’s easy to see that the business is run by people who love it dearly. Precious. Your photos are beautiful, too. I’m finding it so interesting how the different outfits and poses created such different moods. Stunning.

    1. Thanks Crystal! I am really enjoying featuring all of these amazing businesses! We are so lucky to have such great stores in the Foothills!

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