Trading Coast Store: Employment Social Enterprise in Action

Social enterprises are businesses focused on achieving a social mission rather than profit maximization alone.

Employment social enterprises (ESEs) promote social and economic inclusion specifically for people experiencing barriers to the labour market. ESEs can either build capacities within individuals to transition them into mainstream employment, or it can support them in their work and employ them indefinitely.

Hecate Strait Employment Development Society (HSEDS), in partnership with Ecotrust Canada’s North Coast Innovation Lab, has been working to develop an ESE concept that could be integrated with its current training activities. With this approach, training participants would be able to learn and practice new employment skills in a functional work environment with real customers and transactions. Participants of the program will have the ability to work through real life situations and challenges that likely would not come up in the classroom setting. Working in a functioning store also encourages the participants to practice other essential employability skills including time management, organization, communication, and teamwork.

The Trading Coast Store plans to build on the success of last year’s Trading Coast Market, HSEDS’ first pilot of an ESE based in the retail and tourism economy. The Trading Coast Store will be open four days this summer and offer a selection of handmade goods created by residents of the North Coast region.

Getting ready to see if this social enterprise idea fits the bill!

Operating on a consignment basis, the store offers a way for HSEDS to pilot whether a consignment retail environment could integrate with the organizations’ training activities and whether residents and visitors to Prince Rupert could sustain a store operating in this way.

The Trading Coast Store aims to support the local crafts people and artisans of the North Coast by offering an additional location for these individuals to sell their items and to access a wider marketplace. The store offers increased convenience to vendors as it will be supported by  HSEDS staff and, in the future, members of HSEDS training programs who will work to sell the items on the artisan’s behalf.

By participating in the consignment store, crafts people are able to access a new market of consumers and a different venue in which their items are displayed. This expands the market potential for the vendor.

Alicia has been working with the vendors along the way.

The Trading Coast Store offers a unique way to pilot an employment social enterprise in Prince Rupert and offers learnings for how a functional retail space can provide hands-on training in related fields within Prince Rupert. Information and experiences gathered through the store will be used to inform future HSEDS training activities and provide insight into the Prince Rupert artisan experience and retail space.


Trading Coast Store

120-101 1st Ave. East, Prince Rupert, BC

OPEN: July 31, August 7, August 10, August 17



To learn more about this initiative or the work of Hecate Strait Employment Development Society please contact us. For information about Ecotrust Canada and the North Coast Innovation Lab contact Nathan Randall at

Jordan MacDonald is a MSc. Candidate in Capacity Development and Extension at the University of Guelph. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Jordan holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in entrepreneurship from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, NS. While in Nova Scotia he completed internships with the StFX Extension Department at both their Innovation and Enterprise Centre and Centre for Employment Innovation. Jordan’s previous studies and work experience gives him a unique perspective on social enterprise development in rural coastal communities, which he hopes to put into practice while working with the NCIL.