Archive for the ‘Secondhand Safari’ Category

Urban Repurpose

Recently I was reminded that North and West Vancouver are the perfect destination for a secondhand safari. Both communities have a wide selection of secondhand shops as well some of the best church rummage sales in the spring and fall.

Most shops are accessible by transit but if you plan to make several stops, might be better to go with friends and organize a fun road trip for the day. This way, you have more room for some of the treasures you will find along the way as well as snacks and water.

Whether you are looking for something specific, or just like to browse, there are many different types of secondhand shops on the North Shore. These include everything from thrift stores to consignment and antique stores. I tend to enjoy the thrift shops best and will mostly focus on those for this outing. But I will include a few of the other stores along the way.

Urban Repurpose

Case in point, my first stop was at Urban Repurpose in North Vancouver (493 Mountain Highway). This non-profit wants to help people change how the way we see waste. They opened their store last June and have already developed quite a following of both shoppers and donors. And with their rather large warehouse space with their own parking lot, they have an eclectic selection of items that range from building materials and tools to furniture, appliances and housewares to collectibles and unique memorabilia. They even had a shelf full of free books near the entrance.

Urban Repurpose

But they don’t just want to sell you these secondhand items, they also want to teach you how to repurpose them and develop new uses for harder to reuse materials. They plan to offer a variety of what they call “upcycling” workshops as well as do public outreach where possible. Unfortunately, they are also currently looking for a new location as they will need to leave this space by May 31st, 2018.

Auxiliary to Lions Gate Hospital Thrift Store

From there I made my way to Lonsdale and 15th Avenue and found myself in a small but vibrant thrift shop that oozed a wonderful sense of community that could be felt through the busy aisles. I am referring of course to the Auxiliary to the Lions Gate Hospital Thrift Shop (128 15th Street W) which I quickly learned is a much loved institution on the North Shore. Having been in operation since the early 60s, this iconic thrift store which is run completely by volunteers, continues to be an important fundraising arm for the hospital as 100% of the proceeds (minus basic expenses) go back to the hospital. In 2017, this worked out to just over $277,000.

Auxiliary to Lions Gate Hospital Thrift Store

But, they also provide a wonderful service to the community as they carry a wide selection of clothing, accessories, housewares, jewellery, collectibles, paintings, and so much more…all reasonably priced. And the volunteers are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable and helpful…knowing most of the regulars by name. They also make the tiny space work, although I am told they could definitely use more help and a bigger space and maybe one with access to better parking.

Down the road, just off of Lonsdale and 3rd Street, is The Good Stuff Connection Thrift Shop (154 West 3rd Street). Another small but mighty thrift shop which offers good quality, low cost clothing, footwear and accessories as well as a wide variety of books, toys, and jewellery. Sales help support the North Shore Crisis Services Society programs for women and their children who are experiencing abuse.

Next on my stop was the Salvation Army Thrift Store located just off Marine Drive and Fell Avenue (1451 Fell Ave.). This iconic building, with easy parking out front, has two floors filled to the brim with just about everything you can imagine. It is a popular destination with dealers and collectors as they have a well curated selection of jewellery, antiques and collectibles. I was also impressed with their substantial collection of books but was discouraged to find that books were not arranged in any particular category. Made it very difficult to find what I was looking for (i.e., cookbooks).

There is also another Salvation Army Thrift Store on Lonsdale Avenue (241 Lonsdale Avenue)…the book section here is organized by category and they also have some furniture as well as housewares, clothing, jewellery, collectibles, small appliances and more. Parking can be a bit of a challenge, but there is free one hour parking on some of the side streets nearby. Over in West Vancouver, you can find their third North Shore location at 1582 Marine Drive, West Vancouver. This location is a bit smaller than the other two but carries a wide array of housewares, small appliances, clothing, accessories, collectibles and a well-organized book section.

SPCA Thrift Store

From there I made my way to the SPCA Thrift Store (1523 Pemberton Avenue) which is found just off of Marine Drive. It is an unlikely spot for a secondhand shop, but one that offers ample free one hour parking and a space big enough to have a room specifically designated for large and small pieces of furniture.

SPCA Thrift Store

There is also a nicely organized book selection, a room set aside for housewares and another for china, silver and collectible glassware. But you can’t leave without also heading upstairs to check out clothing and accessories. Last but not least, they also carry gently used pet supplies for every type of pet you can imagine!

Consignment Canada

And, down a few blocks is Consignment Canada (171 Pemberton Avenue). This family run consignment business is well respected on the North Shore, and should be a destination for anyone looking for beautifully crafted furniture. But they also carry a well-curated selection of everyday items for the home and office (e.g., artwork, housewares, lighting, rugs, etc.) as well as some stunning vintage jewellery.

Consignment Canada

If you are looking for something specific, it is worth checking out their Web site as they post pictures of most items that come in to the store and offer some helpful tips on their blog. But, I must say that one of the biggest draws for me is Pepper, their lovely corgi that hangs out in the office but takes time away from playing to greet customers as they come in.

There are of course many other consignment, antique and secondhand shops on the North Shore…all well worth exploring. In particular, there is another thrift sale in one of the local churches that happens every Thursday, but I promised a good friend that I wouldn’t publish the location. This is one of her favourite spots and only took me to it if I would keep it to myself. Promised kept…but if you live on the North Shore you probably know what I am talking about! Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention some of the upcoming 2018 spring rummage sales:

West Vancouver Senior’s Centre Annual Flea Market
Sunday, April 22 from 9a.m. – 3p.m.
West Vancouver Ice Arena
786 – 22nd Street, West Vancouver

West Vancouver United Church Spring Flea Market
Saturday, May 5th from 8:30am – 2:00pm
2062 Esquimalt Ave, West Vancouver


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steveston-2Recently I made a very happy discovery while deciding to have a “staycation” locally. I found myself in Steveston Village, British Columbia. I have been there numerous times…but mostly for fish and chips at Pajo’s or Dave’s Fish and Chips or to pick up some of the local catch straight off the docks when in season.

But this time I found myself there on a rainy winter day and decided to see what secondhand shops I could find. To my delight I found two fabulous thrift stores that were beautifully organized with an eclectic selection of books, housewares, clothing, accessories, and so much more. Both were charming and staffed with the nicest volunteers who worked hard to make their stores welcoming and fun to shop.

My first stop was at the Richmond Hospital Healthcare Auxiliary Thrift Store which is located in the cutest re-purposed old church located at 3731 Chatham Street. Be mindful of the hours, they are only open Monday – Friday 10AM-3PM. I loved the old school charm with slanting floors and terrific prices.



Next I found myself at the SOS Children’s Village BC Thrift Store, located on the main strip in Steveston Village at 3800 Moncton Street. They also have a store in Kerrisdale in Vancouver. This store was set up more like a boutique, but still the prices were incredibly reasonable and the volunteers were also quite friendly and helpful.


Going a bit more upscale I found myself in the most wonderful bookstore, Village Books & Coffee House. With wall to wall books and serving aromatic coffee and fresh baked goods, one could spend hours here. I was especially impressed with the cookbook selection and their children’s section which was currently under construction. It is located at 12031 First Avenue.


Last on my stop was the Steveston General Store which was next door at 12071 1st Avenue. Beautifully decorated, this secondhand shop had a little bit of everything: from cookbooks and vintage housewares to vintage clothing/accessories to antiques and fine china. I fell in love with the housewares section as it felt like I was walking back in time to my grandparent’s cottage.


Of course there were several other secondhand and consignment shops in Steveston, but these were the ones that I found myself drawn to as I was limited in how much time I could spend there. If you do head out that way make sure to check them all out and let me know what you think.


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The unofficial greeter at Granny and Grumpa's Antiques and my new best friend.

The unofficial greeter at Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques and my new best friend.

It has been a while since I have taken the time to go out and explore secondhand shops. So last weekend I decided it was time to head out on my own Secondhand Safari. For this particular trip I felt that I  should get outside of the city and head towards the Valley (Fraser Valley that is). And as we all know it is always better to go on a safari with a friend so I convinced my fabulous friend Elaine to come with me. There were several stops on this trip including the Twilight Drive In Swap Meet, a flea market in Aldergrove, the Abbotsford Flea Market, Village Antiques Mall in Fort Langley, and even an auction at the town hall in Fort Langley. However, although not our first stop, I want to start with Granny and Grumpa’s Antiques in Abbotsford.

Just one of the many barns filled to the brim with antiques and more.

Just one of the many barns filled to the brim with antiques and more.

I am not sure how after all these years of visiting and writing about secondhand shops across Vancouver and BC that I have never been to Granny Grumpa’s before. But I do know that I will definitely go back…as should you! It is bigger than any store or antique mall that I have ever been in and meticulously organized. Even more impressive is that it is all owned by two people…you guessed it Granny and Grumpa. Never did catch their real names, but they are charming and incredibly knowledgeable about everything contained on their premises.

Granny and Grumpa

Granny and Grumpa

Located off Highway #1 and nestled in the heart of farmland in Abbotsford (37936 Wells Line Road), Granny and Grumpa’s used to be a working dairy farm before being converted into an antique emporium. Although things aren’t priced, all you need to do is track down Granny or Grumpa and they will know exactly what everything is worth. It is all arranged with great care and you can even find themes for specific rooms. Whether you are looking for dolls, tools, country furniture, tin signs, collectibles, vintage clothing or even heritage farm equipment…pretty sure you can find it here. They post their hours as 9 to 6 daily but I would call before you go just to be sure (604) 854-1033.

Beautiful selection of vintage equipment and tools for making cheese.

Beautiful selection of vintage equipment and tools for making cheese, etc.

If you like old Coca Cola advertising, there is a whole room dedicated to it here.

If you like old Coca Cola advertising, there is a whole room dedicated to it here.


Huge selection of glass oil lamps and so much more.

Huge selection of glass oil lamps and so much more including toy tractors and trucks.

Have a thing for antique dairy farm equipment?

Have a thing for antique dairy farm equipment or need a portable milking machine?

A spectacular butcher's block...if only it would have fit in my car...

A spectacular butcher’s block…if only it would have fit in my car…

Along with actual vintage cars and tractors, you can find the odd mannequin as well...wonder if this was Granny and Grumpa back in the day?

Along with actual vintage cars and tractors, you can find the odd mannequin as well…wonder if this was Granny and Grumpa back in the day?

There was so much to see and it made for a great destination for our day long safari! Granny and Grumpa are gracious hosts and I plan to go back in the near future. However, next time I plan to have a bit more time to really explore and do some shopping and maybe bring a van so that I can come back with that amazing butcher block. While there Elaine had the foresight to ask about where we could grab a late lunch near by. Granny sent us to the Birchwood Dairy where we had a very tasty lunch and tried some amazing ice cream that they make onsite. Must remember to also pack a cooler so that I can bring home a tub of their delicious ice cream as well as their yogurt.





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Several years ago I used to offer secondhand shopping tours called Secondhand Safaris all across Metro Vancouver. In tour buses, supplied by the late great Dan Tapp at Explore BC, we would venture to consignment stores, thrift shops, antique shows and so much more. In groups, sometimes as big as 75 and mostly women, we would set out for the day and stop at some of our city’s finest secondhand shops and shows.

These tours were quite unique and a lot of fun. There is something to be said about heading out on a secondhand shopping spree with a large group of like minded folks – who all love to scour through thrift shops, consignment boutiques, vintage stores as well as antique shows and flea markets….with the odd stop at a garage sale along the way. There were many fantastic finds but half the fun was just being out having a good time doing what we love to do…together as a group.

It has been a few years since I offered a tour but in thinking about going “on the road” again, I decided I wanted to do something a bit different this time. I wanted to go to London, England and I didn’t want to go alone. It occurred to me that a Secondhand Safari type tour to visit all the incredible London Markets might appeal to others as well. So I approached my good friend Alison at Marlin Travel, who was a partner in crime when starting the original Safari Tours. She jumped on board immediately and put together the most amazing travel package.

London Markets
From Portobello to Petticoat Lane, join Alison from Marlin Travel and Jo-Anne from Secondhand Savvy, for an incredible week in London exploring many of the famous (and lesser known) markets.

The date set is May 22nd, 2010 and the price (based on double occupancy) is $2010 per person (CAD & all taxes included) and includes all of the following:

  • Return airfare from Vancouver to London (all taxes included)
  • Round trip transfers between airport and hotel
  • 7 nights accommodation at The President Hotel *** in Central London
  • Hotel located close to shops, park, pubs, restaurants, and cafés
  • Continental breakfast at the hotel and coffee/tea tray in each room
  • London Visitor Travel Card (6 day pass for London’s Public Transit)
  • Ticket to see one of London’s premier shows (show confirmed before trip)
  • London’s “Hop-On Hop-Off” One Day Bus Pass (stops at key attractions)
  • Essential London ½ Day excursion
  • Marlin Travel Escort and Savvy Shopping Guide
  • Guided tours to as many markets as we can fit in
  • Guide with maps and information for over 60 London Markets
  • Comprehensive Insurance Package (Slight increase in price for traveller’s over 59)
  • EXCLUSIVE BOOKING BONUS Earn 50 BONUS AIR MILES® reward miles! Book by January 31, 2010.

The price will go up after January 31st, so book this week if you are interested! There are some terms and conditions, as with any tour, but if you are interested please contact Alison directly at (604) 438-3356 or 1-866-438-3356 or by Email at Alison.MoodyStuart@MarlinTravel.ca and she will go over all the specifics around this amazing travel package.

This should be a perfect trip for anyone who loves to spend hours at markets and then have a “show and tell” back at the pub in the hotel. There will also be time to visit other local attractions (with the Hop On Hop Off bus pass and the Essential London 1/2 day excursion, for those who can pry themselves away from the markets. And I was recently informed that the Chelsea Flower Show is  is happening May 25-29 which may be another fabulous market to visit for some.


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