The neighbourhood I live in is in transition. There’s a threat of tall buildings and generic chain stores on the horizon. So, today I thought I’d focus on some of the businesses that make my neighbourhood great.
This is a good place to start, because I just found out that Bosa Foods is taking over the space at Commercial and Parker that Dream Designs left behind. Bosa has been tucked away at the corner of Victoria and Turner since 1957, but the family is redeveloping the block and will be reopening with a bigger space. In the meantime, it’s good to keep them close to their original location and great to learn that an empty storefront will be filled by a business with roots in this community. It looks like the restaurant space beside it is ready to take on a new incarnation, too. If it becomes a sit down Italian deli, the neighbourhood will be in heaven.
Our first stop for groceries is always East End Food Co-op. They concentrate on organic and fair trade products as much as they can, while also trying to support local farmers in the produce aisle.
Donald’s is another of our stops, though less frequently, as both of their locations are on the outer edges of our neighbourhood. They’ve become famous for their produce and prices, while stocking a wide variety of organic and special diet products.
There are also too many fresh markets along Commercial and East Hastings to list here. I can find just about any produce, spice, or condiment I can think of – which came in really handy for tracking down French Fridays ingredients.
And there are more and more great delis, butchers, and fishmongers in the neighbourhood. Some are longtime favourites, like Bosa, while others are welcome newcomers.
La Grotta del Formaggio has cheese, deli meats, and incredible sandwiches.
If I’m looking for meat, I can go to Pasture to Plate for organic beef, chicken, pork or turkey. If I’m searching for something farther afield, I check Rio Friendly Meats or Windsor Meat Co.
And then, there’s Gourmet Warehouse. It’s a dangerous place to be if you like to cook. South China Seas is smaller, but just as dangerous.
Let’s start with Tiny Finery. They stock beautifully crafted local goods – jewellery, letterpress cards, ceramics, bath products. I especially love that they promote the artists and makers they buy from, both in store and on their website.
Doctor Vigari has furnished our home with many pieces of art over the years. They have a collection of art and jewellery that’s carefully curated and eclectic. It’s good that they moved a little farther down the Drive from us, so that we can better avoid impulse purchases.
LaLa’s does retro and kitch, but it’s mixed liberally with chic.
The Found and the Freed casts a wider net than most antique stores. There’s nothing stodgy about the goods they collect.
There are two yarn stores in the neighbourhood, which makes me happy: Baaad Anna’s and Wool Is Not Enough. I’m on a yarn diet, but I know if I want to break that fast I can find what I need at one or the other of these stores. You’ll want to visit both, because they stock quite different (but equally fine) yarns.
Books, Records, Video
Yup, you read that right. My neighbourhood still has book, record, and video stores.
Audiopile and Highlife Records are both going strong on the Drive, while newcomer Horses Records and Books is carving out its own niche on East Hastings.
I don’t like to brag, but we have so many bookstores in the neighbourhood that I’m only going to tell you about my favourites. People’s Co-op Bookstore is as much a community space as it is a bookstore. Pulp Fiction has a carefully chosen mix of new and used books – whether you’re into pulp and sci fi or the most literate of new books, you’ll be happy here. Canterbury Tales has a solid selection of used books, with a few new ones, too.
And we can’t forget Black Dog Video. The video rental business is a hard one these days, but it’s so nice to have a video store in the neighbourhood that has a broad catalogue. I’m not ready to give up my viewing choices to streaming services exclusively. There’s too much to see that would get left out.
It’s becoming clear to me that I need to do a neighbourhood series. We’ve had coffee and, now, retail. How about bakeries next? Restaurants are a huge category around here – that would be more than one post. Definitely one on the breweries and distilleries in the neighbourhood. What else? Let me know in the comments.