The Best of BC: Hetherington and Hooper

by Curtis Cunningham /
Curtis Cunningham's picture
Dec 20, 2013 / 0 comments

THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNITY: what it takes to live and work in the north

Over the years, I've had innumerable opportunities to interact with the staff at Hetherington and Hooper, a clothing store in Smithers. The owners, Mike and Kelly, and their staff, are always very friendly and accommodating no matter what the occasion. In the past few years I've been blessed to do several different photography projects with them, the biggest of which have been product/model shoots for their clothing catalogs. Each time it's an adventure, going to different places to photograph the models wearing the clothes for the upcoming seasons. I’m very grateful for all that I have learned a lot through these experiences.

But the best thing about Hetherington and Hooper is the friendship that has been established. Each time I leave the store, I always seem  to have a smile on my face. It's hard to explain why, but there's a strong sense of affirmation that lingers. I can understand why it's been such an important part of this community for such a long time if this is how they treat everyone that walks through their doors.

p.s. My wife especially likes getting their gift certificates!


Hetherington and Hooper, Smithers, BC


What is the nature of your business?

H&H: We sell outerwear, Carhartt, workboots, shirts, sweaters and pants/jeans for men, and blouses, sweaters, dress pants/jeans, dresses and boots/shoes for ladies. We also fulfill corporate orders.


Hetherington and Hooper


How long have you been established in Smithers?

H&H: In 1950, Gordon Hetherington and Owen Hooper purchased the men’s department of Watts and Nickerson Store and changed the name to Hetherington & Hooper. In 1962, Jack Bovill went to work for Gordon and Owen. In 1969, Jack became a partner and then in 1977 bought out Gordon and Owen. The original store was built in 1940 and in 1988 Jack and his wife, Rita, renovated the store to double its size. In the late 80’s Jack’s son, Mike, joined the family business and daughter, Kelly, followed in the late 90’s as the store expanded into ladies wear.


Hetherington and Hooper


What do you enjoy about living in the Bulkley Valley?

H&H: We enjoy all the outdoor activities and the relationships we have built with long-term repeat customers. We enjoy the friendships that have been developed with the generations of people that walk through our doors.


Hetherington and Hooper


Smithers is a very community-minded town. How do you see your business fitting into that way of life?

H&H: We have grown up in this community and are involved in many organizations. We sell everyday lifestyle clothing.


Hetherington and Hooper


What is the most fulfulling thing about the type of work that you do?

H&H: We enjoy outfitting people and supplying them with what they require. The people make our business.


Hetherington and Hooper


How would you convince someone to either move to or start a business in Smithers?

H&H: It is a lifestyle, everything you could want is here.


Hetherington and Hooper


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Curtis Cunningham, the Northern BC Editor for Wandering Educators, grew up around photographs and fondly remembers spending time with his maternal grandfather looking through his slides. Cameras always seemed to be a part of his life, a fact that can be attested to by the volumes of photograph albums his mother has.

Photography became more serious when his mom bought him a Canon Rebel SLR to take with him when he went to China in 1994 to teach English. After classes he enjoyed walking for hours; photographing all the while. It was good preparation for his current love of exploration.

He started his photography business in 2004 in Abbotsford, BC, and then relocated it to Smithers, BC when he and his family moved there in 2007. He does a wide range of photography, from commercial jobs and passports to family portraits and sport. He loves shooting from a helicopter when the opportunity presents itself, and is especially passionate about the abstract and artistic.

He is a firm believer in the notion that there is beauty everywhere if one takes the time to stop and look for it. The tagline for his business expresses that succinctly: turning ordinary life into extraordinary art.

Visit his website at



All photos courtesy and copyright Curtis Cunningham