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“We’re calling on Strathcona & Chinatown to build a sustainable business they can call their own...” read more.
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Meet the Neighbours – Tannis Ling, Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

Welcome to another “Meet The Neighbours” segment for This Space.

Meet Tannis Ling, the owner of the Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie. Watch this video to hear her thoughts about how Chinatown has changed, why she started a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, and what makes a good Chinese meal.

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie offers traditional Chinese food in a French brasserie influenced setting at 163 Keefer Street in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

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Current Score – Poll #2

After one week of voting on Poll #2, Local Foods Grocery is leading at 46%. But voting is still open, so Mixed-Use Activities (30%) and Fresh Breads (24%) remain strong contenders. Which of these Local Service business will you select?

This Space is giving you the chance to help shape a small independent business in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Please vote now and spread the word!

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A Legoland for Mixed Activities

Here are the keys. What do you want to do here?

Our Mixed-Use Activities Studio concept will only have 600 square feet. But you may be surprised about the different types of activities that can take place in This Space. Can a Mixed-Use Activities Studio, succeed as a Local Service business? We think so. The real question is, “What do you want to do here?”

We’re asking you this question right now in Poll #2, but if your Local Service choice is Mixed-Use Activities Studio, This Space at 243 Union Street will keep asking you that question.

And you’ll keep helping to decide. Bootcamp? Yoga? Kung Fu? Ping Pong? Comedy Show? Business Meeting? Day Care? By paying or not paying for the classes and events that are offered, you’ll decide which activities will be scheduled there and which ones will be rotated out.

If we offer quality activities that you want in an inspiring space, we think you’ll want to help sustain This Space as a vibrant space that generates social activity on Union Street. If This Space becomes a Mixed-Use Activities Studio, you’ll keep shaping it.

And we’ll keep transforming This Space accordingly. Like Lego.

Here’s an inspiring video of what can be done with small spaces:

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Hey Fresh Roots! What’s on the menu?

“Hey Fresh Roots! What’s on the menu???”

We recently spent some time on harvest day with the amazing, caring and passionate people of Fresh Roots Urban Farm. If you don’t know about Fresh Roots, we highly recommend you visit them.

Talk about being local. Fresh Roots grows food in urban school gardens and neighbourhood yards, educates children on farming, and then feeds the schools and the local community.

You can subscribe to their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and get in-season vegetables all year round. Their gardens are in East Van, and anyone in Chinatown or Strathcona would be lucky to have their salad bowl filled by Fresh Roots Urban Farm.

If you vote for Local Foods Grocery & Meals at This Space, we’ll hope to work with Fresh Roots to fill our shelves with fresh produce.

For more information on Fresh Roots Urban Farm, check out their website at www.freshroots.ca or give them a call at 778-862-FARM (3276).

Audio: “My Country” by Tune-Yards

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Poll #2 – What Type of Local Service?

What type of Local Service do you think belongs at 243 Union Street?

In Poll #1, Local Service (46%) beat out Restaurant (40%). If you were hoping for sushi and tacos, perhaps Another Space will provide them soon for Chinatown and Strathcona! As for This Space, the most popular Local Service suggestions were for evening groceries, bakery and community activities. So, we’ve come up with three concepts centred around these suggestions, and are proposing them to you now as Poll #2. We think each is financially viable and reflective of your comments.

We are proposing the grocery and bakery choices as combo concepts with eateries. These combos will (1) offer food by selling grocery/bread items to some customers and using these same items to make meals for others; (2) not ignore a clear demand for more eating options, as reflected by the 40% Restaurant vote in Poll #1; and (3) make Union Street more vibrant in the evening. On the community activities choice, we think we can develop a mixed-use business with many possibilities.

Please consider these choices and vote for your favorite Local Service:

A ) Local Foods Grocery & Meals

This Space would be a local products grocery store and healthy meals eatery, centred around salads, snacks and juices. The business would offer fresh groceries that will also be used to prepare meals for those who prefer a dine-in or take-out meal option. To maintain reasonable costs, we’ll draw on local producers, and will vary our grocery items and menus seasonally.

One wall of This Space could be dedicated to all things veggie. It would house the fresh ingredients we would use to make you a salad, but also serve as a grocery wall for people who want to cook at home. An assortment of our house-made dressings, salsas and toppings would accompany the fresh salad ingredients, made/grown locally and with eco-friendly packaging. Dine-in seating would include a bar that provides a front row seat to the chef’s chopping skills.

Think fresh, think healthy, think local…all at reasonable and fair prices.

B ) Fresh Bread & Accompaniments 

While This Space is too small to be a full-scale bakery, we can offer a bread focused café and take-out delicatessen.

We could make limited signature breads, with other bread options sourced locally and delivered daily. Select from local quality breads and all that should accompany bread.

Local residents, nearby offices, and cycling commuters will find it convenient to pick up sandwiches in the morning for lunch or take out nicely plated bread, cheese and olives in the evening for dinner. Perhaps swing by Union Street for a Spanish-style chorizo plate with a freshly baked ¼ loaf of olive bread.

Think all things bread. Meats, cheeses, an olive bar, oils, and delicatessen. Want a cosy place to have a glass of wine in the evening? This Space can be that too.

C ) Mixed-Use Activities Studio

We think we can make some community activities work in This Space. Bootcamp or Kung Fu classes? Art Exhibit or Comedy Show? Independent Films and Mommy Matinees? All are possible. And we’ll need some of you to lead these activities. Maybe you’re a Kung Fu master who starts out at This Space before you open up a dedicated studio in Chinatown.

We’ll also rent out This Space for other activities. Are you a local business or designer who needs a meeting room to make a presentation? Maybe you didn’t get invited to speak at TEDx and want to set up your own talks. Or do you need to rent a studio for a photo shoot?

This Space will keep transforming throughout the day, during the week, seasonally, and over time to respond to people’s demand for services. We’ll ensure that some time is allocated for community-related activities that serve Chinatown and Strathcona, even some that need to be funded by other activities. And we can have Ping Pong nights there too.

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And the Poll #1 Winner is…

Local Service!

It was a tight race, but Local Service prevails for this Union Street location. In the end, Local Service with 46% beat out Restaurant with 40%. Retail attracted 11% of the votes.

Thank you to all that have voted!  Already, we’ve met so many wonderful and thoughtful people and learned a lot from you about the Strathcona/Chinatown neighbourhood.

We need you to stay involved!

Based on your comments and discussions with many of you, we have developed THREE Local Service business ideas to propose to you for this Union Street location in Chinatown, Vancouver. We are finalizing them this weekend and will present them to you as http://thisspace.ca/?p=1124 to vote on and discuss.

Stay tuned. Poll #2 will be announced on Monday.

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Ping Pong Charity Doubles Tournament

When: Saturday, October 15, 1-5pm
Where: This Space, 243 Union Street, Chinatown

ALL proceeds will be donated to the Food Security Program at the Strathcona Community Centre.

Entry Fee: $25 per person ($50 per team)
Format: Round Robin and Playoff
What you get: Minimum 3 matches guaranteed. Food and drinks. Chance to win PRIZES.

All levels welcome, with PRIZES for winners in different skill categories.
If you need a partner, we’ll pair you up!
Or post on the facebook group.

Entry Deadline: Friday, October 14 at 5pm

**PRIZES so far from Chinatown businesses:
– $100 GC for Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie
– $100 GC for Charlie & Lee
– $50 GC for Cascade Company restaurants

Please register by email (hello@thisspace.ca) with:
– Team member names
– Contact phone and email
– Skill category (novice, intermediate, or advanced)

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Current Score

Poll #1 closes next Friday, October 14th.

The race is even tighter this week! Local Service still leads, but only by a little bit. Local Service is at 42%, Restaurant 41%, Retail 11%, and Other at 6%.

You have one more week to vote on Poll #1. So if you haven’t got your vote in yet, make sure you do so. All week, we’ll be at This Space, 243 Union Street, accepting ballots in person. If you know someone who can’t access our website to vote, please tell them to come by This Space. Or if you just want to chat and play some Ping Pong, that’s cool too.

We also need your help to spread the word. We want to get more people involved. So please share our link via facebook, twitter and word-of-mouth. Get into discussion with your neighbours as to what you need in This Space. Convince them your opinion is the right one!

We will be launching the next poll on Monday, October 17th with a more narrowed down question. But let’s get some more thoughts through Poll #1 first, VOTE!

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Union Street like it’s 1969?


232-240 Union Street in 1969 (across the street from This Space). Photo taken from City of Vancouver Archives.

 

Each time we look out from This Space, we stare at the Prior Street ramp of the Georgia Viaduct, and catch glimpses of vehicle traffic flowing between Downtown and Eastern Vancouver.

The Georgia Viaduct as it currently stands was constructed in 1972 as part of a planned freeway system for Vancouver. Hogan’s Alley, Vancouver’s only black neighbourhood at the time, was bulldozed to make way for the Georgia Viaduct ramp. Strathcona residents, Chinatown businesses, and other activists got together and successfully thwarted further completion of this freeway system which would have cut through other parts of Vancouver’s urban core, namely Chinatown, Downtown Eastside and Gastown.

Over the last 40 years, Vancouver has grown significantly. And the City of Vancouver now wants to redevelop the disconnected False Creek Flats area, located just south of This Space. The City of Vancouver is looking to transform the old industrial sites and railway yards of the Flats area into an economic zone with Green industries. As part of this strategy, there will be decisions soon on appropriate transportation solutions that may reshape or replace the Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts.

This Space along with the other businesses on the 200 block of Union Street face both risks and opportunities from these pending decisions. Will construction work to remove the Georgia Viaduct halt the momentum of business investment on Union Street? If enough cyclists vote for This Space to provide a service to them, will this Adanac bike lane commuter traffic then be diverted away from Union Street? On the opportunity side, will the removal of the Georgia Viaduct allow Union Street businesses to flourish as a commercial and social hub, as part of a larger and better connected East Vancouver neighbourhood?

Before the Georgia Viaduct, old houses existed across the street as part of the Hogan’s Alley community. Looking ahead, what will the Union Street park and Georgia viaduct across the street look like when it’s all said and done?

You’re helping build a sustainable business in This Space. So you probably care about the future of the Georgia Viaduct too. To learn about the issues, check out these links:

City of Vancouver re:CONNECT website: http://vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/reconnect/index.htm
Spacing Vancouver: http://spacingvancouver.ca/2011/06/16/the-first-georgia-viaduct/

 

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Our Business Plan Roadmap

We went to our bank yesterday and attended an event called “Keys to Successful Business Management”. The financial advisor spoke about the importance of having a Roadmap for business start-up. We thought about how our own Roadmap looks like: we’re starting a business on Union Street but…don’t know what it is yet.

We may not be able to get a bank loan with our Roadmap, but we think having the community build this business in Chinatown/Strathcona is the right approach for This Space.

Already, we’re thinking through your many suggestions for 243 Union Street, and drafting business plans to figure out which ones are viable. Will your suggestions lead to sufficient revenues? And can these revenues cover our costs of: salaries, inventory, mortgage, taxes, utilities, insurance, equipment, etc.?

Based on what type of business you think belongs at 243 Union Street, we’ll soon present more specific business concepts for you to vote on. But Poll #1 is still open for voting.

That’s how things stand with our own version of a Roadmap.

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    Suggestions? Comments? Think you can help? Contact us at:

    hello@thisspace.ca

    243 Union Street
    Vancouver, BC
    V6A 2B2

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