The Old Country Market in Coombs is famous for our international foods, imported gifts, in store baked goods, and of course… ice cream. We also have a restaurant, a deli and fresh produce all under the roofs of our recently renovated market. If this isn’t enough, when you have shown the family all there is to offer in the market…up the hill is our fabulous Cuckoo’s Trattoria and Pizzeria in the Big Villa at the back, as well as our take-out style Mexican cantina “Taqueria”.
This simple question has been the steady compass and organic inspiration, guiding and shaping The Old Country Market from its beginning.
In 1973, “What if we started a fruit stand beside the highway?” One year later, “What if we sold hamburgers to travelers en route to the west coast?” Two years after that, “What if we built a market?” A market was indeed built and that’s how this story began. Many questions and answers followed and the market evolved in its own inimitable way.
The original market was created by Kristian Graaten. Kris and his wife, Solveig, emigrated with their children to Vancouver Island from Norway in the 1950s. Kris, who grew up in the small community of Lillehammer, was inspired to include a sod roof in his design of the market. Many Norwegian homes and farm structures are built directly into the hillside with the sod roof becoming an extension of the hillside. With the help of sons, Svein and Andy, and son-in-law, Larry, Kris unwittingly began to build what would become perhaps the most famous sod-roof building in the world.
And now the question, “What if we put goats on the roof?”
Well, it was the weekend of the Coombs Fall Fair and the grass was getting rather long. Legend has it that, after a few glasses of wine, Larry suggested that they ‘borrow’ some goats to ‘mow’ the grass and perhaps provide some entertainment for passing cars. Needless to say, the goats became permanent tenants of the Coombs market that weekend and have been there for more than thirty years. Each spring, a trip of goats makes their home on the roof, entertaining both locals and visitors from all over the world.
Also referred to as a ‘green roof’, this environmentally friendly method of building provides insulation (retains warmth in colder weather) and promotes evaporation (has a cooling effect in the summer). But most importantly, for us at least, it creates a wonderful habitat for our goats.
The Old Country Market is now owned and operated by Larry and Lene Geekie and their family. ‘Goats On Roof’ has become one of the top tourist destinations in British Columbia, an honour that we owe to our loyal customer base and to our dedicated staff (including the goats!). We are committed to providing a positive and respectful environment for both customers and employees alike. As both owners and employees, we continually strive to offer our customers a unique shopping experience with the best possible service. We hope that your experience with us will be an enjoyable one!
There is no place like The Old Country Market. As our visitors will tell you, it defies imitation and, in turn, inspires questions that, perhaps, begin with, “What if…?”.