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Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

Show us yours and we’ll show you ours. Nearly one in every three people in North America collects something. People collect for pleasure. They also collect to remember, to preserve, to belong, to make sense of the world.”

This is what was written at the entrance of the Museum of Vancouver’s (MOV) exhibit that featured 20 Vancouver collectors and their rather unconventional collections last year. It was a beautifully curated show that invited visitors to enter into the fascinating, and sometimes unusual, world of collectors. Guests could also become part of the show by sharing their own collections on red and white post-it notes that were placed on the walls around the entrance and through a digital display that featured contributions to the hashtag #MyCollectionatMOV.

The show was the brainchild of Viviane Gosselin, the Senior Manager, Curatorial and Curator of Contemporary Culture at MOV. “I have been working in the field for 20 years and meet so many collectors”, says Gosselin. “Collectors are my experts. They know all the details. They have specific knowledge, bridging between public and private knowledge. Museums are always relying on collectors.”

“But because each show takes two to four years to set up”, says Gosselin, “we can’t offer a show or do justice for every collection.” As a result, Gosselin had “collected” several collectors over time. Even though she couldn’t offer each of them a solo exhibit, she believed that “it was worthwhile to pay attention to their world and their passion and doing it as a way to study the phenomenon of collecting.”

This eventually led to the idea of a group exhibit that would explore “the act of collecting, the collector’s vision and the role collections play in building identity, public memory and social connections.” But more specifically, it was meant to potentially provide insight into the questions of why people collect and if private collections affect public consciousness in any way.

When asked which collectors stood out for her, Gosselin had many but highlighted three in particular: Melanie Talkington, Rob Frith, and Kyle Seller.

Gosselin was impressed by Talkington and her collection of corsets. “She learned to make corsets by deconstructing them and turned her collection into a viable business.” Talkington, who has been making, selling and collecting corsets for over well 20 years, owns Lace Embrace Atelier, which is located in Vancouver.

From her very first purchase of a red wool corset in 1997 and after years of collecting, it is no surprise that she is considered a corset expert and has one of the largest antique corset collections in the world.

“I now have over 300 antique corsets, hoops, garters, stockings and children’s corsets,” says Talkington. “My collection has shaped my lifestyle. I created a fun and interesting business out of my passion for corsets. It has taken me around the world to work on museum exhibitions, participate in trade shows, and make new acquisitions.”

Sharing her knowledge, and educating others around the many different roles corsets played in our history, continues to be important for Talkington. In 2013, the Louvre Museum in Paris borrowed 40 of her corsets for The Mechanics of Underwear exhibit and plans to make her private collection more accessible to the general public by creating a museum in the back of her retail store.

Another, standout for Gosselin was Rob Frith and his display of vintage concert posters. “You can tell music has played a big part in his life.” And indeed it has.

Rob Frith owns Neptoon Records, Vancouver’s oldest independent record store. Although Frith has several items that he collects, the concert poster collection is one that is near and dear to him. “Music means everything to me. Posters are an important part of that. I have thousands and thousands of posters. Most are from Vancouver, but I have some from all over.”

He acquired his first poster when he was 12 years old. “I was always interested in art, especially art that was interesting and weird. My dad was a builder and had bought a house that had been rented by draft dodgers. He took me to the house to help clear it out and on the walls were several concert posters. I was blown away by the artwork and took them home and put them up on my bedroom wall.”

From then on he started to notice them all around Vancouver. He also went to his first concert when he was in Grade 8 and started to casually buy posters after the shows. Eventually his passion grew to include records. This led to him owning a record store and creating his own record label. “I have also reissued records and the posters have come in handy for those projects.”

Sharing his collection with a broader audience also matters to Frith. “I feel that this collection is important, it is a historical document. I have let people use my posters for illustrations in books, LP and CD releases, newspapers, magazines, television, and movies.” He has also been scanning images of all of his posters and placing them on his Facebook page.

Kyle Seller is another collector who stood out for Gosselin. Several of his vintage pinball machines and arcade games were on display at the MOV. All were in working condition and people could play some of them for a dollar or less.

Seller bought his first arcade game (Bubble Bobble) when he was 16, and still has it today. His collection has since grown to include around 60 and having to be creative with storage has led him to build a unique career for himself. “With my business, East Van Amusements, I restore pinball machines and rent pop-up arcades in pubs and other establishments around the city.”

According to Seller, the pinball and arcade market has found new life in Vancouver. “There are pinball leagues with regular tournaments and a massive culture for collecting.” All of this is good news for Seller as he continues to find new and exciting ways to be a part of that community and grow a business that fuels his passion.

In terms of why she thinks people collect, Gosselin suggests that it is related to how people see themselves. “It is tied to their identity and is an identity building process. As you build your identity, you are building yourself. They are always in that process of building, selecting and following their passion. Starts with intuition and interest but then you become more knowledgeable. And you get to know yourself better in relation to different topics.”

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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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It is that glorious time of year when many of the local churches and community centres have their annual spring rummage and thrift sales. Here are the dates for the ones that I know about so far.

West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre Annual Flea Market
Sunday, April 23 from 9am to 3pm
West Vancouver Ice Arena
786 – 22nd Street
West Vancouver, BC

Knox United Annual Thrift Sale
Friday April 28th, 5pm to 8pm and Saturday April 29th, 9am to 12noon
5600 Balaclava Street (just off 41st)
Vancouver, BC

St Mary’s Kerrisdale Rummage Sale
Friday, April 28, 5pm to 8pm and Saturday April 29th, 9:30am to 12noon
2490 West 37th Avenue
Vancouver, BC

St. Philips Rummage Sale
Saturday April 29, 9:00am to noon
3737 W. 27th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (just west of Dunbar)

Gracie’s Thrift Store
Saturday April 29th, 10am to 2pm (and every other Saturday)
803 East 16th Avenue
Vancouver, BC (off of Kingsway and 16th)

West Vancouver United Church’s Elegant Flea Market
Saturday May 6, 8:30am to 2pm
2062 Esquimalt Avenue (at 21st)
West Vancouver, BC

21st Century Flea Market
Sunday May 7, 10am to 3pm  $5
Croatian Cultural Centre
3250 Commercial Drive (at 16th Avenue)
Vancouver, BC

The East Side Flea
May 19-21 (and every other weekend)
Friday 6pm – 10pm, Sat/Sun 11am – 5pm
1024 Main Street (Ellis Building)
Vancouver, BC

South Granville Senior’s Centre Spring Bazaar
Sat. June 3, 10:00am – 2:30pm
1420 West 12th Ave.,
Vancouver, BC
A $7 soup & sandwich lunch will be served from 11:30-1:00

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.”

Burcu’s Angels
221 East 16th Ave.
Vancouver, BC
(604) 290-1049

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A small group of women on the east side of Vancouver have decided to take what they love to do and create a unique and viable business that makes a difference in their community. Only open for seven months, Miscellany Finds is a hands-on social enterprise that provides hard to place women with basic back to work skills through on the job training programs in their retail thrift store. All profits from the store help to further their social mission and are put towards programming costs.

Many of the women that they work with have had to face some very difficult challenges and need a special kind of support to help them transition back into the workforce. According to Portia Sam, the program’s coordinator, their mandate is “to validate women and help them build confidence and competence.” Zainab Bernard (Production Manager) also stresses that they are passionate about creating a fun and nurturing environment for these women to acquire basic lifeskills like time management and setting up a bank account, as well as specific retail job skills such as working with money, taking inventory, setting up displays, and customer relations.


And, all of this occurs on-site at the thrift store which is located on East Hastings, a few blocks east of Nanaimo Street. The store itself is quite charming and has a boutique feel to it…without the boutique prices. Separated into two distinct sections – humanity and home, they carry a little something for everyone.


In the humanity section they have a broad selection of everyday and brand name clothing and accessories for men, women and children. The prices are extremely reasonable and everything is clean and well organized. Prices range from $4 to $30 and although most items are contemporary, they do have some stunning vintage pieces.

For the home they have some newer as well as funky retro housewares, a few electronics, linen, books, records/CDs, movies, children’s toys, and some rather unique items such as an interesting looking sabre. They also had some nice pieces of furniture, including a beautiful antique phonograph record player that still works when you crank the handle. Prices here vary, depending on the item, but all still very reasonable (e.g., TV for $20). They recently just sold a gorgeous mahogany table with six matching chairs for $200.


They are currently also working on building a warehouse space so that they can increase their capacity for donations. Unlike many other places, they will accept almost any donation as long as it is clean and in working order. The only things that they will not accept are mattresses and children’s car seats (both because of health and safety reasons). They request that you call them first to make arrangements for the drop off and do have parking at the back of the store to make drop off’s easy. There is also ample street parking in front of the store.


This is definitely a place worth checking out, both Portia and Zainab have created a wonderful space that is inviting and immediately offers a sense of community.

Miscellany Finds
2615 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 254-9999
www.miscellanyfinds.ca

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