Family Values and Timeless Style

Wicker Emporium

Wicker Emporium is a privately owned home décor and furniture store chain established in 1972 by its president and CEO Madan Kapahi. With stores throughout central and eastern Canada, Wicker Emporium “turns customers into decorators and houses into homes,” offering a vast selection of quality products and interior design solutions.

Born in India, Mr. Kapahi came to Eastern Canada in 1967 to pursue a career in law. As he and his wife began settling into their new home in Halifax, they found themselves looking for traditional wicker furniture, a comfortable and appealing reminder of home. They soon realized that the high-quality wicker and basketry they desired for their home couldn’t be found locally. In this challenge, the couple saw great opportunity. Thinking like true entrepreneurs, Wicker Emporium was launched in 1972.

Upon opening his first store at the Scotia Square Mall in Halifax, Mr. Kapahi began travelling back and forth to Asia for business. He soon found that unique, stylish wicker furniture could easily be brought back to Canada. This discovery opened up a new world of opportunity for Mr. Kapahi and his family, and soon they were making regular trips back and forth to India, bringing unique touches of Asia back to Eastern Canada and growing a business at the same time.

Since the launch of that first store, the business has grown into a successful family operation while affording the Kapahis the opportunity to keep in touch with their family and culture. In addition to its quality wicker offerings, the company’s product line has expanded to include solid wood furniture, mirrors and wall art, home accessories, storage and shelving solutions, cushions, pillows, quilts and throws, baskets and trunks, lighting, rugs, and other home décor items. “Our business started as wicker, but is now much, much more than that,” shares Mr. Kapahi.

Now with 26 stores throughout Atlantic Canada and Ontario, the driving force behind the company remains the same: to provide a touch of exoticism to Canadian homes, allowing people to express their inner designer, while supporting the broader community and the natural environment.

“Wicker has a warm feeling about it, and it’s handmade,” explains Mr. Kapahi. The material is both economical and environmentally friendly, and can be used in a number of ways to fit into any décor. With significant competition from the ‘big box’ stores, Mr. Kapahi explains that, “We needed a niche in order to survive and stand out.” The Kapahi family enjoys the adventures of traveling, buying and selling merchandise, and meeting new people in the business, and they have a deep appreciation for the artists who design and manufacture the items they sell.

Wicker Emporium is proud to be able to offer stylish solutions for every budget. “Even a student can come to buy and furnish their basic needs,” Mr. Kapahi notes. “We also have products that are very durable and made of solid wood which people are willing to pay a higher price for. You can see quite a range in price from rattan to high-end leather or mahogany. It is more like a boutique concept with a fair amount of variety.”

Mr. Kapahi’s son, Raj, is the company’s COO, and echoes his father’s sentiment. “Our team is dedicated to hunting down the best products at the best prices for our customers,” says Raj. “We travel far and wide to find new styles, fashions, and trends… My travels have taken me to some wonderful parts of the world, and they’ve allowed me to meet amazing people from all over.”

Priyanka Kapahi, the company’s Marketing Director and Mr. Kapahi’s daughter in law, agrees. “We handpick our furniture and home décor from suppliers around the world,” she explains. “This direct relationship with our products inspires passionate employees who are as excited about home décor as our clients are. I have always loved handmade, handcrafted products. I have always appreciated art and creativity. Working for Wicker Emporium inspires me to come up with new ideas and designs to fuel my passions, and to create unforgettable impressions on people.”

At Wicker Emporium, the team believes that all one needs is a little inspiration to make any home a joy to live in; Wicker Emporium provides that inspiration. Customers appreciate the experience of shopping at the company’s stores because with new products arriving each week there is always something unique to see, and every store carries a distinct selection, catering to the diverse needs of local shoppers.

In addition to helping individuals create beautiful living spaces, Wicker Emporium is also dedicated to serving the broader community. Since 2010, the company has proudly supported Habitat for Humanity’s Nova Scotia ReStore. Through the ReStore initiative, people are able to purchase home renovation products at affordable prices, while many tons of material are diverted from the landfill each year and reused in home renovation and décor projects.

Wicker Emporium has also launched what it hopes will be an annual event: a textile competition through the local Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. The winner of the textile design competition is awarded a cash prize as well as a paid internship at Wicker Emporium. The challenge is a dynamic way to give back to the local community while honouring emerging talent.

Further afield, Wicker Emporium also works to support The Gunungan Orphanage and Relief Centre, located in Central Java, Indonesia. During a business trip to Asia, the team was moved by the efforts of this organization which provides a safe home for orphaned and abused children. In addition to schooling and care the children also participate in developmental activities which will give them a strong foundation to build upon when they leave the orphanage. Wicker Emporium is proud to support this effort through donation boxes in its stores.

In addition to quality and value, the company also emphasizes good stewardship toward the natural environment. With each piece of furniture, trees are planted as soon as they are cut down. Wicker Emporium sources its wares from suppliers who are committed to the approach of renewing resources. Also, many of the company’s products use reclaimed wood from countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. These materials are repurposed from old boats or homes, crates, and sometimes other furniture. “It seems to be quite popular furniture,” Mr. Kapahi says. “People appreciate that we are using wood which would have been discarded. It is beautiful because it shows the age and a story behind it. We have five lines that we carry made from reclaimed wood. Some of it is North American taken from old buildings… it adds character to the pieces.”

Mr. Kapahi is proud of the principles upon which his company stands. “The customer appreciates the environmental significance,” he says. Indeed, the company’s guiding values of exceptional customer service, energy and enthusiasm, and economical and environmentally friendly living come through in everything it does.

Madan Kapahi is truly humble in his successes, expressing gratitude for all that his family has achieved. He is especially grateful for the opportunities he has to travel the world, getting to know so many diverse people and cultures. “Human beings have one thing in common,” he says. “We all like to know that we are being acknowledged for what we do – that what we do has value. We share that same feeling. We see it every time someone comes to our stores and buys, which helps to support our living.”

He is clearly committed to his business, working tirelessly and loving every moment of it. “I am in my 70s now, but will not stop working,” he explains. “Every day is a new day – it is an adventure! I also am very fortunate to be living in a country that is full of opportunities.”

October 19, 2017, 4:55 AM EDT

Wind on the Rise

In the world of renewable energy, wind power is growing fast. It is projected that 10 percent of the energy generated in the United States will come from wind farms by 2020. Offshore wind farms are a relatively new addition to the American energy market, but the technology has been well established in Europe and is now taking off state-side as well.