April 01, 2004 - The Bancroft Times 

The name Lakeside Gems Nature Shop & Studio, respected and appreciated by an impressive array of international customers and recognized artists, is popping up in significant circles.  A conversation was overheard between one of the hundreds of artists at North America’s largest fine art & craft show last December in Toronto and a customer, who cottages in the Bancroft area.  “It’s a small world - our stained glass designs are sold at Lakeside Gems on Hwy 28, just south of Bancroft”, said Rose Stevenson, Stained Glass Artist.
Lakeside Gems is full of intriguing crystals, rocks & minerals, geological tools, stained glass, nature music, prints & books and camping items; they advertise “Something for Everyone!”.  Linda & Terry spend their winters putting new "sparkle" in their inventory, and they have developed a lengthy list of suppliers, which is constantly evolving as new products that aren’t available anywhere else in this area are sourced.
“It’s always changing, always something new; I seldom miss an opportunity to show the shop to friends and relatives”, says Community Futures Investment Manager, Jackalin O’Brien.  Community Futures is funded through Industry Canada and offers financial assistance, business counselling, business workshops/seminars, and assists Human Resource Development Canada by delivering the Self Employment Benefit Program.
Lakeside Gems Owners Terry Brenneman & Linda Bast credit Community Futures with helping to get their business up and running in 1999.  The business/life partners were drawn to the Bancroft area by its natural beauty, the price of real estate and the advantage that it's a rockhound’s paradise.  The quality of life they were looking for included building a home-based retail business based on Linda’s pre-existing, semi-precious gemstone jewellery business, Mystic Reflections.  Community Futures provided valuable financial assistance.
Sales have steadily increased over the years, and the owners offer a personal touch in the way they display gifts and accents for home, garden & self, that customers can touch and explore.  Linda explains, “We’re not a rock shop… we’re a nature shop & studio that also sells rocks and minerals.” Customers are always/only served by the owners, which means the “store clerk” is completely knowledgeable about all of Lakeside Gems’ products, and is able to tell the story behind each piece.
Visitors are often pleasantly surprised when Linda and Terry offer a long list of things to see and do in the area.  These “ambassadors” are proud of what this community has to offer, and work hard to promote natural attractions and other businesses in North Hastings.  The Lakeside Gems’ guestbook includes comments about great visits from people as far away as Baffin Island, France, Italy, Egypt, Australia, Scotland, Holland, Ireland, Germany, and the U.S. from coast to coast…. and that’s just to name a few.
Rockhound MP Larry McCormick wields a rock pick that he bought at Lakeside Gems.  They met at the Rockhound Gemboree, where Linda and Terry have been familiar faces for the past three years and look forward to this year’s show in early August.
When asked for business advice, Linda & Terry confidently offered:  “Do as much research as you can.  Be ready to take some risks.  If you take over an existing business, beware that the past influences people’s perception of the new business.  Try new things, expect to fail at a few, and accept that the balance of what works best for you will constantly evolve.”