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larson Napier

By: Cody Glydon

There is a certain magic about a theatre that can be difficult to explain in words. Theatres have always been a place where families gather, where a nervous new couple shares their first kiss, where we laugh, where we cry, and where we create special memories. Yes, theatres hold a special spot in everyone’s heart. The Napier Theatre in Drumheller is no exception. If you talk to any resident in Drumheller, I’m sure they all have a special memory of this historic theatre.

Since the walls can’t talk, I sat down with Jeff and Kathy Larson of the Napier Theatre to learn more about this iconic building and what it’s like to run a theatre in our community.

“We both like movies and it’s a fun business. You get to deal with the public, which is fun, and seeing different people” confesses owner Jeff Larson.

The Larson’s owned the theatre from 1996 to 1999 and acquired it again in 2005 and have owned it ever since. In addition to the Napier Theatre, they have owned the theatre in Strathmore for the past two years. Jeff is also a movie collector, estimating he has over 200 films and short films in his collection.

In today’s high tech world, what does a theatre offer that cannot be duplicated sitting at home or on the computer? Larson says it really boils down to one thing, the experience.

“It’s the experience with other people around you and that makes a difference rather than sitting at home by yourself. If you’re in with an audience in a dark room, especially during comedies, the people start laughing and it gets everybody going” says Larson with a smile on his face.

Of course when you provide that special theatre experience you must be have the latest technology to not only compete, but to stay current with the trends.

“We switched to digital two years ago and it was 60 thousand dollars to put in a digital system and we had no choice because they are phasing out film and if you didn’t do it, then you’re not a business, so we did that” remarked Larson.

Over the years the Napier Theatre has seen some big openings. A complete sellout of a show means all 370 seats are full, however Larson admits at 350 it’s tough to get seats together so they usually try to cap it at 350.

“It’s hard to say what the biggest one was. Things that did very well, thing that we had sell outs on, were the Harry Potter movies.”

Overall Jeff and Kathy Larson really enjoy working in Drumheller. Like many other businesses they say the people of the valley are the best.

“The people are really nice here and we like the community. We have been here for 10 years and have no plans of leaving. In the summertime, because it’s a tourist town, you see different people from all over the place. We’re really busy in the summer” gushes Larson.

You can find the Napier Theatre at the corner of 3rd Ave and Centre Street in Drumheller. You can find them on Facebook, online at, or call their movie hotline at 403-823-6411. By the way, just in case you were wondering, where did Jeff and Kathy go on their first date when they met? A movie theatre of course!

If you know of a Drumheller business story that should be told, please email the Economic Development Officer at   or call 403-823-1320.

Over The Rainbow

For 12 years Janice Burke of Over the Rainbow in Downtown Drumheller has been providing unique gift ideas for residents and visitors.

“When I bought the store, it started out as just children’s clothing and now we have giftware, gifts for men, jewellery, and ladies accessories” says Burke.

They pride themselves on variety in the store. When you walk in you’re instantly met with unique items coupled with a fantastic fresh scent that serenades the entire store. They strive to provide great customer service, knowing that a happy customer is a repeat customer. Looking back on the summer she says jewellery, garden items, and especially baby items have been a hot seller.

“Tourism is great but I appreciate the local people that support me. They have been awesome and when the tourists are not around you really count on your local customers to help you out” remarks Burke.

Winter time is especially good for Over the Rainbow mostly because of Christmas. In addition to their customer appreciation day, Burke’s store has become a favorite destination for local people to buy Christmas stocking stuffers.

“At the customer appreciation day we like to serve food and punch and do some in store demonstrations and it gets better each year” Burke says with a smile.

There are three things that Burke cherishes most about living and working in Drumheller. She loves the friendly people, the small community atmosphere, and the landscape. Thanks to Kellie Smith for nominating Janice Burke and Over the Rainbow for September’s success story!

Find them at 45 3rd Ave West in Drumheller and don’t forget to look for them on Facebook. If you know of a Drumheller business story that should be told, please email the Economic Development Officer at  or call 403-823-1320.

SJ Fashions

One word best describes a downtown core. Unique. Downtowns everywhere, including Drumheller, pride themselves on having a unique flavour that one cannot find in other areas of a community. It’s no big secret that being unique and providing fantastic customer service are two cornerstones to success.

SJ Fashions is a downtown Drumheller clothing store that provides women’s clothes for all ages and sizes. While many of today’s clothing stores are large retail outlets located along main travel routes, SJ Fashions remains in a downtown character building combined with old fashioned shopkeeper hospitality. The store employs 6 people, Shirley Briault, Sherry Bitz, Jane Dupuis, Sandra Grenville, Angela Klassen, Joann Werschaler, and 3 high school students.

“customer service and being friendly with people on a one to one basis is what beats the big box stores” says Shirley Briault owner of SJ Fashions, who’s worked in fashion retail for over 20 years.

“My first job was at Lou’s Fashions in Stettler and that’s what got me going in this industry explained Briaut.

“My husband got transferred to Drumheller so I worked at Laval’s Fashions when I first moved to Drumheller 15 years ago and when he went out of business he gave me a chance to start the business in Drumheller” says Briault.

Top quality brand name clothes from sizes 2 to 3X are found in this downtown store and according to Briault she’s seeing a lot more sales of leggings and long tops with lots of color these days.

So what does she love most about doing business in Drumheller? “Being in a small community and the people. It’s beautiful, it’s different, it’s interesting, and there is a lot to do in Drumheller.”

SJ Fashions is this month’s Drumheller success story. Find them at 25 3rd Ave West in Drumheller and don’t forget to look for them on Facebook. If you know of a Drumheller business story that should be told, please email the Economic Development Officer at  or call 403-823-1320.

RJ Flowers

Chances are if you’ve ever been to a funeral or a wedding in Drumheller or just needed some “just because” flowers, you’ve seen the extraordinary bouquets from R&J Flowers, downtown Drumheller.

“It has been a family owned business since 1951.My Dad’s aunt started it, my Dad took it over in ’71, and I took it over in 1996 after my Mom passed away” explains current owner and flower extraordinaire Jolene Powell.

When one walks into the store you’re greeted by the fresh smell of flowers, stunning bouquets, and fantastic gift ideas.

It’s a cheerful environment where the staff has a passion for what they do.

“I love the feeling you get from people. My Dad always said flowers whisper what words can’t say. There is something about the look on someone’s face when they get flowers. It’s just a happy fun place to be” beams Powell.

As one could imagine there is quite a creative process behind developing proper flower arrangements. According to Powell it takes at least two years of working in the flower industry to become a beginner designer of flowers arrangements.

“You can go to school for it but it really has a lot to do with hands on work and lots of practice. We’re constantly learning and there are different design techniques to understand” says Powell.

The busiest times of the year for R&J Flowers are Christmas, Valentines, and Mother’s Day.

Are roses really the best to purchase on Valentine’s Day? Well, according to Powell, they are so popular that the demand on the flower growers/suppliers to provide roses is huge.

This means flower growers/suppliers have to stock pile enough roses to meet the demand for that one day.

Therefore the quality and price of the roses may not be as good compared to purchasing them at other times throughout the year.

Powell recommends buying a different variety of flower for Valentine’s Day....and you’re welcome for the hint, guys!

Although she does some orders outside of Drumheller, the majority of Powell’s business comes from the Drumheller community.

“I love the people. It’s like the Cheers theme song “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” I like seeing the same names, the same smiles, and the trust you have with people is the best part about being in a small town.”

Jolene Powell and her staff at R&J Flowers is this month’s success story!

You can find them at 40-3rd Ave E in Drumheller or call (403) 823-2792.

If you know of a Drumheller business story that should be told, please email the Economic Development Officer at or call (403) 823-1320.