On East 16th Avenue just a block east off Main Street, Burcu’s Angels is one the city’s most iconic vintage clothing stores in one of Vancouver’s most eclectic and vibrant shopping districts. And as much as the store is known for its impressive collection of vintage clothing and accessories, it is also equally known for its owner – Burcu Ozdemir.
With her short salt and pepper wavy hair, a deep rich voice, and clothes that are layered and vibrant, she definitely has a gypsy feel to her look. You can almost hear her jingle as she walks by. She is passionate and sometimes explosive, but make no mistake; she is a very successful business woman who loves her community deeply. Along with carrying an impressive selection of retro and turn of the century clothing, jewellery, hats and footwear, Burcu is also a zealous advocate for causes dear to her heart.
Inside the store, Burcu has two boxes that she is quite proud of. One is a box filled with all kinds of scarves; the other has clothing, food and everyday household items. The first box is one that she sets aside for children from the neighbourhood. Every time a child comes into the store she lets them rifle through the box and grab a scarf for free. This is just something she started for fun, but has quickly become a favourite with all the kids in the neighbourhood. The other box speaks to Burcu’s passion for helping people in need. She leaves this box outside overnight and encourages people to grab whatever they need. What doesn’t get taken gets delivered to local shelters in the neighbourhood.
These “free boxes” are important to Burcu. Fifteen years ago she was a single mother struggling to raise her two boys. She knows how tough it can be and was extremely grateful for all the support she received over the years. As her business grew, she was determined to never lose sight of being able to assist others along the way while also remaining open to help – in whatever form it came.
She has been at her current location for three years and loves being part of the Main Street community. Not only is she incredibly respected as a knowledgeable fashion historian and business woman in the vintage clothing industry, she is also an accomplished singer with her band called “Something About Reptiles.” At age fifty-one she has decided that she wants to encourage people to have more fun and decadence in their lives. Her new motto for the store has evolved to include “If you don’t need it, I have it!” As an example, she points to a pair of bright purple leotards with built in boots. “These were popular in the 60’s,” she says smiling.
With just over fifteen years in the industry selling retro and vintage clothing, what impresses her most are the people she meets and getting to know their stories. “I love being able to see kids from the neighbourhood grow up. And, I love it when they come in to show me what they have done with some of the vintage pieces they have found. They have embraced the historical and funky side of fashion. Some of the kids that I have gotten to know have even gone on to design school.”
221 East 16th Ave.