“We’re calling on Strathcona & Chinatown to build a sustainable business they can call their own...” read more.

Poll #1 – What Type of Business?

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

We’re excited to share Poll #1 with you. What business does this neighbourhood need? Place your vote. Know other people who are interested in the Chinatown/Strathcona area? Tell them to vote too. Help us decide this first question, and we’ll be well on our way to starting a business here that the community wants.

A.) Restaurant

Do you think This Space would make a good eatery? Restaurants such as Campagnolo, London Pub, Caffe Brixton, Phnom Penh, Bao Bei and Keefer Bar are already attracting people from around town to the Chinatown/Strathcona area for dining and entertainment. This Space is small, but want more dining options in the area? Sushi bar? Taqueria? Gourmet sandwiches? Vote “Restaurant” and post a comment about what you’d like to eat.

B.) Retail

Can This Space help Union Street become a vibrant shopping destination for Vancouver? New clothing boutiques Charlie & Lee and The Board of Trade have become instant attractions for the block. And retail on Union Street is not just fashion. Land (baby & gift items), SHOP/TASK (roller blades), jett grrl bike studio (customised bikes) are next door neighbours. Vote “Retail” if you want more shopping on Union Street. And post a comment.

C.) Local Service

Union Street is a convenient location for a diverse Strathcona community, condominium residents in the new V6A and Ginger buildings, and the bicyclists using Union Street as one of Vancouver’s designated bike lanes. Should This Space provide some basic service to the local residents, children, or commuting bicyclists? Grocery store? Art, music or books? What about something for pets? Vote “Local Service” and post a comment about what is needed.

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135 Responses to Poll #1 – What Type of Business?

  1. By Kevin, September 17, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    This space should be turned into a barbershop. Something trendy & new, for mens cuts. With many of the shops being retail in fashion, a great haircut goes perfect with new clothes.

    • By Tanya, September 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm

      Don’t you remember the space was a barber shop right before it became

  2. By Ryan, September 18, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    I think Strathcona and ChinaTown could use some healthy food. A small restaurant serving healthy meals and juices etc… Toronto has several of these are they are very popular. Something conscious of course, good, organic, reasonable price and of course delicious!

  3. By KMB, September 19, 2011 at 8:26 am


    • By spacious, September 20, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      Anyone know a good sushi chef?

    • By Hana, September 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      There are already so many sushi spots in Vancouver, and Chinatown’s Chinese food is so close by. Let’s open up to something else, please.

      • By Steph, September 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

        Couldn’t agree more with Hana.

  4. By Kathleen Stormont, September 19, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Strathcona needs a bakery! A place with an assortment of breads, buns, muffins, baked treats, etc. Benny’s and Union Market do carry some great baked goods, but it would be so handy to have a greater variety of baked goods in a one stop shop.

    We also need a good flower shop. There is a store in Chinatown one block up on Georgia, but its selection is very limited.

    • By Jen Eby, October 11, 2011 at 10:28 pm

      That was my vote too! But really anything excellent would be fine with me.

  5. By Tyrus Hainsworth, September 19, 2011 at 11:06 am

    Something that doesn’t further the gentrification of Chinatown.

    • By lani, September 20, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      Agreed! So many businesses connect with the community as a marketing method, but it would be fantastic if it can serve the ‘whole’ community. I LOVE how Save on Meats is working to be accessible to many groups.

      • By This Space, October 5, 2011 at 10:42 am

        We really respect what Save on Meats is doing, and continue to speak to people and think about what we can do in our 600 square foot space.

  6. By Anna, September 19, 2011 at 11:11 am

    A chess club would really bring the community together. Who doesn’t love playing chess?

  7. By Nicole Zroback, September 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I think we definitely need something like a bakery. I would love to have a cupcake shop! I think with the growing popularity of this delicious treat, it might be a great location for it!

    As others have mentioned, I think that a sushi shop might be a great idea as well!

    • By Rick Hates Cupcakes, October 8, 2011 at 5:32 pm

      Vancouver needs another cupcake shop like it needs another coffee shop. Its ridiculous how many cupcake stores there already is. Do people really eat that many cupcakes that every neighbourhood needs one?

  8. By Howard, September 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Modern Chinese, but don’t do the fusion thing!

  9. By TC, September 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Yes, a local service of some sort would be great. Maybe pet services (vet?) or pet food, which nowhere to be found in Strathcona. My other thought would be for an old school music/book/video store. But that may be tough slogging for the perspective owner.

  10. By Peter, September 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    we need sushi!
    or a bike shop. or a wine shop.

    • By Hana, September 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Agreed. A liquor store or beer and wine would be pretty fantastic. It’s off to Commercial Drive or across Main towards Crosstown for drinks when I need to buy a bottle of wine to a dinner party.

      • By Chris, September 28, 2011 at 10:42 am

        Highly unlikely you would get a private liquor store license. Also, at 600sq feet it would almost be impossible to do enough volume to make any money. Private liquor stores get a very tiny break on retail price, and then have to try and turn a profit off that.

        Long story short, before a beer / wine / specialty shop goes into a space that small we’ll need some government reform.

  11. By Kitty, September 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    A family friendly breakfast and lunch bistro…. similar to little nest! with a kids play area…… there are 1,000,000 kids in Strath and their mom’s and dad’s need a place to have coffee and relax… and let the kids be loud…..

    • By Caylee, September 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      This is an amazing idea! The space maybe too small but we should definitely have more places like the little nest.

    • By claire, September 21, 2011 at 12:13 am

      yeah exactly, we need an affordable breakfast place/lunch and somewhere to go that has real food unlike wilder snail and union market.
      bike 2 minutes to the millions of identical sushi places in vancouver!!! we dont need ANOTHER ONE.. theres already a bike shop next door…think about what would be good for the community as a whole..

      • By MM, September 22, 2011 at 1:58 pm

        I like the idea of a cozy breakfast/lunch place, especially with great coffee! Ever been to the Red Umbrella in the West End? I would LOVE to have that in This Space.

        I agree that we don’t need another sushi place. I think we really have to consider what the area doesn’t already have, but is in need of.

  12. By Sue, September 19, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    How about a family place where kids can be creative and adults can unwind a little. Perhaps a hybrid shop like a bakery where adults can sit and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while the kids can decorate their own cupcakes or cookies… or a pottery place where kids can paint ceramics… or a place where kids can tie dye t-shirts and stuff!

  13. By Greg, September 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Id like to see another sandwich shop in the area. Even if it was a half bakery, that would also be good.

  14. By zoe, September 19, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    i’d like to see something in the spirit of a pop-up. something that rotates, that can give local whatevers (designers, bakers, painters, etc.) the opportunity to test out their wares with the public, without all the risk that full commitment to a storefront demands (very helpful to those just starting out). it would allow the “whatevers” the chance for direct market research – ie: how does the public respond in general, and how do they respond to particular pieces – and it gives us, the passersby, the visitor, the neighbour, something to look forward to each month – ie: oh, what’s coming this month? and we’ll return and return and return.
    perhaps there could be a portion of the space that’s allocated to dedicated use that doesn’t rotate, and then another portion for the rotating. this would allow a regular flow of visitors to the dedicated space because we’d also be coming to see what’s coming into the rotating space.

    thanks. best. z

    • By Mo, September 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm

      I think this is the best idea of them all… I favour anything that allows local merchants or artisans the chance to share their wares. Not just another replica of something we can get, by just going a few blocks away. Also, I appreciate that there are lots of people around here with kids and dogs, but pet services, high-end hipster clothing and cupcakes just reeks to me of gentrification. As for the barber shop, there is a barber shop on that block, try Douglas. He’ll likely vacuum the hair off your shoulders but he does a decent cut.

      I would love if this space were used to feature work from people of the neighbourhood, ones that wouldn’t get a chance to exhibit in a bigger shop or studio. I like the idea of teaching people accessible skills. I think riotgrrl already does a good job teaching ppl bike skills, so it’d be neat if it was a place to share other skills and teach… Could be a little grocer, but the shop would teach ppl how to make their own sausages or preserve their own food. If it’s a clothing show, perhaps it would have a sewing or knitting class integrated in the evenings. Maybe a bakery in the day, with drop-in baking classes on sun afternoons for kids and adults alike.

      I would say live shows integrated with a restaurant, but being realistic, the noise complaints would shut it down in a second…

    • By spacious, September 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      We want to think more about pop-ups. What do you think works better–would the business charge a fee to rent out the space? Or take a percentage of revenues?

      Also, the Australian-funded “Empty Spaces Project” found us on Facebook overnight, and told us to check out the tools they’ve developed for “creative and community reuses of empty spaces”.

      • By Dawn, September 20, 2011 at 6:14 pm

        I voted local service because I thought it would be a good little space for different local art/fashion shows/markets. The idea of a permanent pop-up is excellent. I think maybe it could be a collective even. The show/local artisan would pay for the use of the space, which would be chosen on the basis of its local merit, and they would need to agree to contribute some of the profits back into the community.

    • By Kyle, September 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Agreed. Some kind of community space would benefit the area much more than a restaurant or retail outlet. A pop-up space or rotating art/music gallery would be very cool

    • By Kathleen, September 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm

      Terrific idea – wish I had thought of it myself!

  15. By Andrew, September 19, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Sushi! Or Mexican. We need a few more lunch options.

  16. By Cass, September 19, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    After 6pm, it’s hard to find shops that are open to buy groceries, or anything for that matter – so if you work late, you have to head out of the neighbourhood. Olives, bread and cheese are especially tricky. I’d love to see something healthy please!

    • By spacious, September 20, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Cass and AM. Yes, this neighbourhood definitely needs more services in the evening. I spoke with the Chinatown Business Improvement Assocation (BIA)–he called it a “chicken and egg” situation where Chinatown merchants and grocers started shutting down early years ago because there were no revenues at night. The summer night markets has been part of the Chinatown BIA’s efforts to revitalise the nightlife in Chinatown.

    • By MM, September 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm

      Yes! I agree with Cass. I love all the markets in Chinatown for produce and meat, but after work, I can’t seem to find other basics in the area without going to a chain grocery store.

      • By Hana, September 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

        Agreed. I voted “service” because I thought it would be great to have a grocery store that would complement the shops in Chinatown. With more living space coming into that block, I’m sure it would be extra convenient if people between Main/Gore and Union/Hastings could walk easily to do ALL of their grocery shopping. A place, open till late, with some western staples to complement the Asian staples would be such a great addition.

  17. By Chad, September 19, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    I’d love a little sushi spot in the neighborhood!

  18. By Tori, September 19, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    A dessert shop! Frozen treats?? My girlfriends and I are always on the lookout for a dessert spot after dinner, especially during the summer. Somewhere to hang out after a fantastic meal 🙂

  19. By AM, September 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I agree with Cass. TNT is the closest market open later than 6pm. Would be awesome not to have to go up Main st or into Gastown to pick up bread or eggs. I vote groceries or better yet a good ol’ bodega!

    • By MM, September 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      I just replied to Cass, but I agree too!

  20. By Mama, September 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I would love a kid/baby friendly eatery (like little nest). Somewhere with good coffee, yummy healthy food, and a place for the kids to play.

  21. By pt, September 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

    It seems pretty obvious that the area has long been in need of a liquor store, and as far as viable businesses go — it’s a relatively recession-proof prospect and can offer something for all the residents of the community, regardless of income level, hipster quotient or ethnic background.

    In many respects, when they shut down the old government Liquor Store on Main Street (part of some misguided ideology driven social engineering project) it was one of the factors that really helped killed Chinatown as a commercial viable shopping area and render it little more than a quaint tourist photo op.

    The option to pick up a nice malbec, a six of ale or a bottle of single-malt on the bike commute home would be a sign that we’re a functioning, regular neighbourhood like every other hood in the city.

    • By Ryan, September 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm

      Good idea, I personally looked into this a while back, however the city only allows so many liquor licenses per year and there is no designation for another in Chinatown. Unfortunately.

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  23. By spacious, September 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Comment moved from the old Comments section: Posted by Huub, September 20, 2011 at 9:29pm:

    Try not to go too hipster/yipster on us. This neighbourhood’s losing it’s specific charm to globally generic nice places, becoming a place that could fit in any fashionable city’s up-and-coming postal/zip code. To that end, some Mandarin or Cantonese in the signage for whatever you’ve already decided before conducting this poll would be a considerate touch. Hogan’s Alley vs. Caffe Brixton is, in my opinion, a study in contrasts for do (the former) and do not (the latter) in how to invite and interact with everybody that makes up this community and not just its newest members. Also, see: Bao Bei.

  24. By spacious, September 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Comment moved from old Comments section: Posted by Eoin, September 20, 2011 at 9:29pm:

    Definitely a wine bar – Check out this place in NYC – – Very small venue but they really use the space well.

  25. By james, September 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Strathcona desperately needs a good, reasonably priced grocery store. Perfect for tall the bike commuters to pick up a few items on the way home too!

  26. By Kelly, September 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I’m all for the idea of a bakery, but not a hipster bakery.

    No Cupcake franchise, but something more like Nelson the Seagull. A few kinds of good breads, some sweets and maybe some basic breakfast/lunch offerings.

  27. By Jennifer, September 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Being that I work in the area I’m kinda of surprised at some of the comments. Barbershop, bakery, cheap grocery store? Really? Have you walked around Chinatown. There are hair salons, bakeries and cheap grocery stores every 5 steps. How about we open up an Olympic memorabilia store? Or maybe a store that sells hot plates? THERE ARE A MILLION OF THEM. Ok, rage over.

    A few more lunch options would be nice.

    A taco stand that also sells breakfast tacos would make me the happiest person in Chinatown.

  28. By selina, September 21, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    my first thought was a record/music shop for my own selfish reasons but after reading some of the other comments and ideas, i agree it would be great if it was something that would be more useful for all those in the neighbourhood. a market (not necessarily fruits/veggies since we are lucky to have all that already in chinatown but other grocery store items) that has later hours than chinatown would be awesome. agreed, something reasonable in price and not too hip. maybe something charming and rustic. kinda like the wilder snail but more emphasis on grocery than cafe?

  29. By gerry, September 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    To be clear: You are a private business that is trying to do market research to figure out what business to open? Kind of lame you aren’t inspired enough to come up with an idea of your own….

    • By Kasia, September 21, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      hey gerry…you been drinking the hatorade? you’re missing the point here. it’s an innovative way to get the community involved and provide what the people really want and need. who is to say how things will go, but i give them props for being creative and for engaging the public. i think it’s far from lame and uninspired. lame and uninspired would be opening another subway sandwich shop.

    • By Lula, September 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      i don’t think this idea has been thought of before(not to my knowledge and if so not in Vancouver). The very fact that it seems like the opposite of innovative is exactly what makes it innovative.

  30. By KristaM, September 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    One thing to keep in mind is that Urban Bar and Kitchen will be opening soon in one of the commercial spaces in the new V6A building at 221 Union St. It’s the same group that owns Habit and The Cascade Room on Main St.

  31. By Darren, September 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    A few small tables, chairs, and a big ass projector for screening indy or otherwise awesome films. What is Vancouver’s problem? We need venues to watch movies where we can DRINK BEvERages like adults! 🙂

    • By Carol Sawyer, September 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      yes – bring back Blinding Light!

    • By Kay, September 23, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      also yes!

    • By trish kelly, October 1, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      I actually love this idea. Maybe have weekend afternoon screenings, so evenings could be just a wine bar. Buy up part of Videomatica’s catalogue, or another dying video store. Call it Videomatic Wine Bar.

  32. By Village Girl, September 22, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    It would be interesting to see a modern spin on the classic grocery store. Something ultra hip that suits the vibe of the community and the surrounding shops but isn’t really elsewhere in Chinatown. Maybe insert an interactive side bar for people to pick up breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on the timing of their commute down/up Union. Perhaps an interactive coffee/tea/smoothie bar and maybe a spot for an engaging game of chess…or something interesting like that.
    All the essentials plus maybe a hodgepodge of some luxury items we crave but don’t want to travel across town to get. Can’t think of specifics right now but that is my 2 cents.

  33. By Heather Johnston, September 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I ride my bike past here every day and I would love to see a deli/bakery. There are some butcher shops in the area (hello Big Lou’s!) but no deli. That is what is missing from my neighbourhood.

    • By Carol Sawyer, September 23, 2011 at 5:31 pm

      Benny’s has an excellent deli, and there are lots of interesting deli-type things on offer at Union Market as well – what don’t they offer that you still need? Ask them to bring it in for you – they are very customer responsive!

  34. By Kala, September 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

    What about a bookstore/coffee shop? I would love a social meeting place where I could peruse used and new books, enjoy a coffee and meet some nice people. Whoever suggested communal chess is right on the money.

    • By Space Time, September 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

      An extension/exporation of the pop-up idea: Maybe a food/community gathering spot that could function as a platform for people to voice opinions on what is happening or what is needed in their community.
      The space could serve a bit of this, a bit of that(sushi, tacos, gourmet sandwiches etc.) Each month a different chef could showcase their culiary talent. Another area could allow people the opportunity to bring forth and discuss with fellow patrons ideas on what is needed in the community; talk politics, business, art , fashion, bounce ideas off each other, or simply talk about the weather.
      Another area could be designated for up and coming entrepeneurs, artists, poets to showcase their work or product. I think the interesting part of the pop-up/food/meeting space is that it keeps evolving. The constant stream of community involvement and participation is the crux of this idea to begin with so maybe keep pursuing that thread.

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  36. By M, September 23, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    A Strathcona Finches for good sandwhiches. Or sushi….

  37. By Kay, September 23, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Reading through the comments am sadly astonished at the multiple calls for bakeries, groceries, sushi stores and bike shops. Isn’t anyone looking around while walking, biking or driving through the neighbourhood?

    Try Benny’s, Union Market, and Wilder Snail for baked goods, also snacks, deli, organic produce, and most of what people say they’re missing. Try SoleFood at Hawks and Hastings for organic produce. Benny’s carries organic produce too, more every year. Some of the city’s best & most reasonably-priced sushi is at Fujiya, on the corner of Clark and Venables. Jett Grrl Bike Studio, on E. Georgia, a few doors down from you, for bikes. Several good hair places in Gastown, not so far away.

    FYI: The Main & Hastings liquor store did not close because of “some misguided ideology driven social engineering project,” but because between opening and closing times, dozens of alcoholics congregated outside the entrance. Basically it was the Hastings and Gore junkie crowd but with alcohol instead of drugs (speaking of misguided, ideologically-driven social engineering projects.)

    So this question… is neighbourhood the same as community?

    From the comments, it doesn’t seem so. Can you respond to your community, which seems to favour trendier, more expensive versions of what is already here, and still respond to the needs of a neighbourhood in the throes of gentrification?

    Hoping you might somehow be able to refrain from adding to the hipster/yipster demographic.

    Blinding Light would be a great addition, as would a much-needed arts space. There are a number of local arts oganisations that need office and meeting spaces only a few days a month. It might be interesting to have them connected through a single physical venue.

  38. By chris, September 23, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Open up another InSite.

    • By This Space, September 24, 2011 at 11:58 am


      Thanks for your input. We are not a Government run or Non Profit program. However that is a great recommendation for one of the donation votes. There will be a vote near the end of this process asking the community what local charity, program, or facility we donate a portion of our profits to.

      • By chris, September 27, 2011 at 1:16 am

        That is great!

  39. By JL, September 24, 2011 at 11:09 am

    A little pastry and chocolate shop would be nice…especially if they served High Tea on the weekends.

  40. By This Space, September 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    Maryrose emailed This Space this comment:

    “if you go for a grocery store – I would suggest you explore what Niagara Grocery store in Victoria has done : 82 different local suppliers, wonderful fresh local food in a corner store – even James Bay honey (Niagara Store is on Niagara street in James Bay Victoria. They have done so well they have opened another one in Fairfield in Victoria. berst of luck – sounds a fun way to go. Maryrose”

  41. By kirk, September 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    As someone new to the area, one thing that has been difficult has been having no where to buy milk or coffee after 6. I would love to have a place to buy odds and ends. I do not want a 7 11 or max store on my block but I would love not to have to get in my car or ride over the via duct on my bicycle to yaletown to get some ice cream. Is there some way to have convenience without a convenience store… something that fits the area and is open past 6.

    • By kay, September 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      For ice cream and sorbetto, try Casa Gelato, 1033 Venables at Glen Drive. 218 flavours. Union Market is open until 7 pm, so good for milk or coffee after 6. after that go to Best Convenience Store at Hastings and Hawks for milk & creme. They’re open until 1 am.

  42. By Tracy, September 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I love the idea of a brunch place or wine bar, particularly if it serves local/organic (or close to it) fare—but nothing too expensive, and something with a more “family-run” feel to it. Like Nice Cafe or The Wallflower or Nelson the Seagull (even though all of those are quite different from one another…).

  43. By StrathGirl, September 24, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Here are a couple of ideas I think would be great in this space:
    1) A book store selling cards, books and lots of magazines (Int’l ones as well). Think Book Warehouse.
    2) A Frozen yogourt place, juice bar (contemporary and a fun place to go after dinner for dessert). Think Pinkberry.
    3) An Italian cafe where you could have wine and pizza…TRUE Italian style and food, not junk or fast food. Think Scuie.
    4) A wine bar/lounge with small tasting plates. Think Salt.

  44. By Andrew, September 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Would be great to have a space where local residents could sell locally-grown produce and locally made products including handicrafts, tech-stuff, whatever…basically a consignment-style space where people’s hobbies could be monetized allowing folks to work less at their day jobs and more at their dream jobs.

  45. By BK, September 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    With retail/service shops already on the same block, an eatery/cafe would provide a nice balance. Not a high end eatery, but one that is welcoming to everyone (all ages, affordable). It would also be great if the eatery could feature the history of Chinatown or Chinese heritage (photos, stories, etc.); this could change every month so regular customers won’t get bored. The eatery could be open for breakfast and lunch. People could stay or take out. During dinner-time/evenings (on specific days only?), the space could be rented out for a minimal fee for meetings or private parties. You could provide free coffee/tea, but people would pay for their food. Or there could be cooking classes for favourite menu items. Essentially, the eatery would be a place where people want to hang out throughout the day.

  46. By andrew, September 26, 2011 at 12:14 am

    A organic food joint serving juices n smoothies n salads etc! Quick n easy, not pretentious, good tunes, recycled furniture, local food!
    We need some healthy food to keep all these beautiful people healthy n happy—-you are what you eat 😉

  47. By Ben, September 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Combination bakery/book store.

  48. By Rachel Prince, September 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    I think we could use an eco-friendly dry cleaning service with morning and evening hours so us commuters can have our work duds cleaned cleaned in an environmentally friendly way and close to home…have you ever tried riding a bike from Yaletown in the rain holding three freshly- pressed dresses on hangers?

  49. By Rigel, September 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    What about a specialty cheese/deli shop, where you can buy some staples like milk, eggs, cheese, antipasto.

    Fusion that a deli, and voila, a place where you can have some paninis and chill with friends over a coffee.

    This could be good with the cycling crowd as they cycle home from working downtown.

  50. By Marlon, September 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Should def’s be a restaurant, after a long day of rollerblading with shop-task go hit up some pho

  51. By Dave, September 28, 2011 at 10:16 am

    The last thing we need is another trendy restaurant. Vancouver is already known for food, but increasingly not for going outside the box, or having an active young community. Strathcona has a history of people coming together to alter the course chosen by the powers of Vancouver. Are we really going to turn this fantastic location into another fancy feedbag?

    Here’s some inspiration if you get the restaurant vote:

    Food is a great bridge to get people talking. But I think it’s time we talked about the future of this city, and get more citizens involved in the decisions we live under.

    Just like your project shows, we create our own spaces. However, developers are currently creating out new locales while we (the younger, broker generation) miss out on shaping them ourselves. I’d love to see people getting active with inspiration via food, retail, a local service or any other business that is conducive to conversation and citizen-rooted community building. I’m sure your business will serve organic, grain-fed and trendy… but let’s start real change through this project!

  52. By jason james, September 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

    hey – love this idea! lots of freelance workers and business owners living and working in the area… i’d love a place to do colour printing, photocopying, and faxing… maybe even graphic design!? judging by how slick this campaign is i think you could do a swell job… and there’s nothing really like that in the hood.

  53. By Christine, September 28, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I’d like to see this space become a gathering place for local residents to hangout. Something like an art/design library/bookstore would be amazing! The neighbourhood already has so many restaurants and boutiques, we need a space where we can get to know our neighbours!
    If not a library/bookstore, the pop-up idea is pretty great too. Let’s make this place something community focused please!

  54. By Maya, September 28, 2011 at 11:45 am

    A community bicycle fix-it-yourself space/shop,similar idea to Our Community Bikes, that also has refurbished one-of-a-kind bicycle rentals for out of town guests staying in the neighborhood and want an opportunity to ride in and out of the neighborhood and all over the bike paths in style.

  55. By Jen, September 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Flower store / plant store. Would not only beautify the street, but people could pick up a bouquet on their way home. Cool monochromatic arrangements with unusual plant materials. Flower boxes and baskets in the spring/summer. There’s nothing like it in the hood.

  56. By Jackie, September 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Something like this might be cool:

  57. By discoporco, September 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I always walk through chinatown fascinated by all the traditional Chinese medicine and spices and herbs and dried fish. How about a place that sells and or shows people how to use and cook with all that stuff? Chinatown lessons for Gwailos!

  58. By Bonnie, September 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    A new type of “public house” – where people can gather, meet, talk to each other, share news. That’s what pubs used to be about in the UK – it’s where you got your local news, the town gossip, your entertainment. It was the gathering places for the commons because their houses were too small. Provide a service or products that people will pay for, but make it a place where people can gather. Like Twitter, but in real life.

    • By Paul, September 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm

      I agree with Bonnie. It seems that the term “pub” is applied far too capriciously these days. A quiet, low-key establishment serving local beers with an absence of scantily attired servers and live music could definitely count on me as a repeat customer.

  59. By Lindsay, September 28, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Community spaces are essential for bringing people together, generating ideas and taking collective action. We need more spaces like these where factors such as income do not block people from engaging in their communities. I believe this space should be a comfortable (couch laden) low-key space and site for community organizing around current, pressing issues as well as community building from sharing a pot of tea to holding a pot luck to taking a short snooze. I hope others agree! 🙂

  60. By connie m, September 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    A pop up store that is themed each month…for example, one month it could be a tea shop, then next month it could be a baby store…gives everyone something to look forward to. Vendors would need to be chosen or voted for….

    ps i love this whole idea of voting for what the neighborhood needs.

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  62. By Mark, September 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    A bakery would be awesome

    • By Mark, October 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      Another idea now that I’m back at work and having trouble finding time and energy to cook dinner – I would love a tiffin service that delivers healthy cooked meals to my doorstep for dinner.

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  64. By Pamela Fairfield, September 30, 2011 at 10:42 am

    We need local service that caters to healthy, non-sugar snacks and drinks that can be taken to go for cyclists if needed but also Mom’s and working people who are very busy.

    I vote for an organic juice bar with raw food sandwiches ( food prices similar to Gorilla Foods) and perhaps a supply of reasonably priced organic produce to buy, which is very hard to find in Strathcona.

    Thanks for asking us.


    Pam & Fin

  65. By Tyler, September 30, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    One corner of the shop could be a hot sauce sample bar. Think a normal bar, but instead of booze you have all the worlds best hot sauces for to sample on community cooked foods (in order to accommodate the pop-up food concept still). Then you sell people their favourite bottle of hot sauce. Also, some booze would be nice. ha.

    The other corner of the space obviously needs to be a Board shop. Your neighbouring spaces are Blades (Roller) and Bikes consecutively. I believe there’s a reason why they’ve chosen a dedicated bike route, and they don’t even have Vancouver’s newest and largest skate plaza one block away!

  66. By Mike Storm, September 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I live in V6A and would really like to see our area been more self sustainable. I voted retail because Chinatown is getting more and more pubs and lounges, and needs more retail stores to make it a walk able and hip place for people to spend their money in the daytime and weekends (not just at night). Sustainability!

    If I was to vote restaurant then I would definitely say an organic juice bar with organic sandwiches, etc. Or an organic raw food store/restaurant.


  67. By Mike, September 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I would put in a yoga studio. Generally do very well financially and you would have a good draw with a new condo building going in next door.

  68. By Tanya, September 30, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    I hope this space doesn’t become another Land or Charlie and Lee (both stores for yuppies) and actually caters to the cash strapped, artistic, social and community minded residents. By providing something to better our health all around, mentally and physically, we can stop the brainwashing and gentrification that is sweeping the neighbourhood.

    • By Dave, October 3, 2011 at 10:00 am


    • By This Space, October 3, 2011 at 10:53 am

      Have you visited these shops? They are friendly members of this neighbourhood and are patroned by a diverse clientele. These businesses have taken lots of risk by being early investors on a quiet Union Street. They have helped make this block more vibrant, stimulated the local economy, and are making it attractive for other businesses to consider renting the empty commercial spaces on the block. What specific business do you think would pay the rent and work well at 243 Union Street?

      • By Kasia, October 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm


        I think gentrification has got a bad rap. The changes in the area signify economic progress to me, in an area that has been struggling in the last couple of decades due to other options for consumers. (e.g. Going to TNT instead of buying Chinese specialty goods in Chinatown.) When businesses are not able to support themselves, empty storefronts bring down a neighbourhood. Even the Barber has mentioned that since the new shops have opened the area is safer and there are people of all ages and backgrounds coming into Chinatown now. Seems to me that is a positive, not a negative.

        I understand the anti-hipster/yuppie comments but at the same time we have to remember this is still a business these people are trying to run. I think new development and existing businesses can co-exist and even help each other succeed for the benefit of the whole neighbourhood. Good luck to This Space!

        • By Dave, October 5, 2011 at 2:39 pm


          The main thing I see causing distain for ‘yuppies’ and gentrification is that many businesses/services put profit (or image) over connecting with people and improving the deplorable state our world is in.

          Sure, business owners everywhere take relative risks in rough neighbourhoods, and get a ‘cool’ (overtones of jealousy) stigma attached to them once their locales become an economic or cultural hotspot.

          What we really need in THIS SPACE is open discussion on the issues we face as a city, in our increasingly unstable world. The tension caused by new ownership and the reaction of the community is minor in the grand scheme of things. We need to move forward with shaping our city, through a service that provides inspiration for interested parties. We need a catalyst for citizen engagement. We need a service that expands our communities desire to design and influence the progress of Vancouver as a world city.

    • By This Space, October 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

      As always, thanks to each of you for taking time to follow and post your thoughtful comments here. We really appreciate your time and input, and they are all helping us think about our potential business and this neighbourhood.

    • By iloveMYneighborhood, October 5, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      I DO LOVE MY NEIGHBORHOOD…and i am completely pro-sustainable development, but i hear what tanya is saying. strathcona currently is an extremely diverse neighborhood. we have people from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds and you know what? that’s one of the things that makes it fantastic. there is a fear that due to condo development and some of the business development mid to low income earners will be pushed out. and i think that fear is a relevant one, quite frankly the development in that block is mainly targeted at D.I.N.K.’s-dual income no kids. i’d like to see something that could benefit a broader spectrum of residents. no cupcake shop. no high end barber shop. no spa or nail place. no doggie grooming. visit yaletown for those services. if you could do it right a takeout restaurant would do very well there. could be sushi (and i mean good quality) could be juice bar/salad joint, could be really good deli sandwiches. we have lots of mediocre take out joints or ready made paninis, we need something good. something where people can eat for 8-10$ max. or as my partner said, get a beer keg and keep the ping pong table and you’ll be gold. good luck guys.

  69. By Chaney, October 1, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I think this could be a good opportunity to revitalize C-Town and draw a different demographic to that area…I would suggest “thisspace” open a restaurant that sticks to the roots of the area – Chinese Food.

    A fast food Chinese Restaurant that serves only take out food, more specifically – Dim Sum. A selection of traditional dim sum that can be eaten on the run. There will be NO dine-in, since space is limited.

    Ideal for people who are in a rush but don’t have the time that you typically need during a traditional dim sum lunch or lunch break. Business concept/model will be different than regular restaurants, so it will not compete directly with other restaurants like Bao Bei or even Hon’s. Should be be profitable with no rent expense since you own the space – I even have the business plan all ready to go !

    Dim Sum On The Run


  70. By Roland Tanglao, October 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    crazy ideas:
    1. japanese noodle bar like wagamama (i.e. run by chinese people just like wagamama)
    2. bike shop that caters to bicycle commuters after all 100s bicycle by every morning and night (jettt grrrls is great but her shop is a bespoke bike shop and not a commuter bicycle shop) + espresso bar + vegetarian taco restaurant + hefe weizen bar – I know bike shops don’t make money but i bet the espresso bar, taco joint and weizen bar would make money day 1

  71. By Tim, October 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Greetings All,

    Would really love to see a Mini Grocery like a Mini Whole Foods / Or Mini Save on something that has a pretty full range of the things you need a staples. This area is lacking that. Or a multi purpose store.


  72. By Matt, October 3, 2011 at 10:38 am

    I really think that if there were to be three shops all together, that it would introduce more shoppers to the area. This would then end up stimulating sales into the three shops in question, and the local economy at the same time.

  73. By Voytek, October 4, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    My vote for a specialty cheese shop/deli! perfect little spot for it and would be popular with a majority of folks

  74. By Wilson, October 4, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I voted restaurant but my idea is more for a restaurant/service hybrid. I got this idea when I visited the Philippines where they have this concept called “Dampa”. The idea is to provide a cooking service. In the Philippines, the Dampas are mostly for fresh seafood purchased nearby. Here’s a link with :

    For this space, it could be more of a concept to promote healthy living and eating. Nearby Chinatown provides many places to purchase fresh meat, seafood, fruits/vegetables….etc.

    This space can hire and train the local residents for the cooking. The service would be ideal for people who love affordable, healthy food cooked in front of your eyes with ingredients that YOU picked out.

    With the limited space, you can set up for a few tables but mostly focus on take away service.

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  76. By Dave, October 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    more ideas:

    how about a place for kids to learn how to use a camera, or start a blog. It looks like you could teach them.

    a space where people can learn how and build their own furniture / design ideas.

    an intergenerational learning center, where the old teach the young and visa versa.

    cooking classes!

    fund yourself through a wall in your space. Sell ad/message space by pixel (or wall sized equivalent)

  77. By chris, October 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    I think having a cafe/bakery focusing on serving delicious and organic soups and sides. It could be called The Soup Kitchen and some percentage of profits could go towards food for the homeless.

  78. By chris, October 5, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    I think having a cafe/bakery focusing on serving delicious and organic soups and sides for a reasonable price. It could be called The Soup Kitchen and some percentage of profits could go towards food for the homeless.

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  80. By Lindsay, October 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I think a pre-packaged to go style sandwich shop would be amazing. The location is great to catch bike commuters and serve the neighbourhood. Kind of like the Eat ( and Pret a Manger ( shops in london. Simple, cheap, healthy and quick! All made fresh and on site. Their offerings rotate based on the season and their prices saved my budget in such an expensive city. I work near here and think it would be such a nice option. Would be great if they had to go dinners for the way home too or pre-marinated meats and sides…. like a trendier, non-frozen and more local M&M meat shops.

    • By This Space, October 12, 2011 at 12:14 am

      Lindsay, this is a suggestion that I can see appealing to the neighbourhood as well as the cyclist commuters. Thanks.

  81. By Sean, October 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    A Malaysian Bak Kut Teh restaurant is a good idea. I can just imagine eating this on a cold winters day… the thought is comforting.

    Like this: 4 main options
    1 Pork bak kut teh
    1 (Buddhist) Vegan bak kut teh
    1 Seafood bak kut teh
    1 (Halal option) chicken bak kut teh

    Side dishes
    1. Chinese donut
    2. Gai lan w/ garlic
    3. Spicy Ong Choy
    4. Bok Choy

    Chinese Tea
    English Tea

    Thats it!

  82. By Vero, October 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I support the cheese shop/deli/grocery ideas that many have posted already. I just spent an hour trying to find parsley in Chinatown without success! I think this neighbourhood needs a grocery store that carries all the things that we cannot find in Chinese grocery stores such as fresh herbs, fine cheeses, cream, fresh pasta, chick peas, fresh baguette, etc. Most importantly, it would need to be open late (at least until 10pm) because there is really no other option to buy fresh food past 6pm in this neighbourhood.

    • By iloveMYneighborhood, October 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      vero- walk a few blocks and you will come across benny’s foods. its a strathcona institution. it sells everything you listed and more.

      • By Vero, October 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

        I actually did walk up to Benny’s! It was closed. They are not open on Sundays, Holidays or past 6pm, which is precisely the time when most people who work can do their grocery shopping. If they could just extend their opening hours maybe we would not need another grocery store…

  83. By Rick Hates Cupcakes, October 11, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    I originally thought this was a pretty interesting idea. Unfortunately based on the ideas I’ve read I’m less then enthused. It seems mainly divided (and i could be reading it wrong) between the same vancouver centric places that are everywhere else (sushi, organic juice shops, pet services,etc), places that already exist in the neighbourhood (and show that people need to try out new things in the area and explore instead of waiting for a gentrified version to open on their block; those include things like pho/bakeries/etc) or things that are completely unsustainable or implausible in the space provided. I doubt a permanent pay per use pop up shop would be able to pay the rent let alone make a profit (unless rented out to larger companies). A restaurant in 600 sq ft seems pretty hard, not impossible but there are two restaurants opening up on Union soon. Any sort of liquor store is practically impossible to get the licenses. So far what I like is the ping pong table. Keep it simple, switch up the game every once and a while or often (foosball, pool, movie nights), create leagues, events, more tournaments, drop ins, lessons, etc. Try to keep it open, social community bonding, like a community centre with a bit more style and the financial incentive to keep improving.

    • By This Space, October 12, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Rick, Thanks for that idea. I’m thinking about how this would work financially. Can you email us to discuss?

    • By Carter, October 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

      I was thinking about this ever since I heard of a space in New York doing something similar, called “Grand Opening.” They started with a small space like yours, and turned it into something new every 3 months. Their initial opening was also a ping pong table:

      They’ve since turned it into everything from a Poker tournament space with live video coverage, to a wedding chapel, to a movie theatre.

      • By This Space, October 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm

        Carter, Grand Opening looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  84. By Amy, October 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    i like the idea i’ve heard over and over again of the space being at least in part a community meeting space. i like the idea of seeing it as a hub for things we want to see happen – ie. supporting local sustainable businesses, fostering community.

    i wonder if based on time of day the space could change? ie. during the day how about it be a space geared towards mom’s and families with kids like little nest – if there’s room perhaps have some items mom’s could buy from local indie designers.

    at night – it could be more geared towards singles/couples without kids (or couples needing a break from their kids lol) with food/games etc. like “Rick Hates Cupcakes” mentioned… if there’s room (i’m envisioning things hanging from a wall or two) items for sale from local designers, like bags etc.

  85. By Jeannine Em, October 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    I keep wanting to make inexpensive copies and have to travel far and wide, hoping the place will be open by the time I get there.

    So I suggest a copy/fax kind of basic service.

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  87. By amanda, November 10, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    Reading what you wrote about Hogans Alley makes me think that maybe this space shouldn’t be a business at all but maybe a community space where you could go and learn the history of this neighbourhood. I’m actually surprised by the amount of people that live in this city or that have moved to this city that don’t know about Hogans Alley, the history of African American culture in Vancouver and that gentrification that took place then and is now continuing in the same neighbourhood with a different group of people. It would nice to see this place used as more of a museum, a place where Vancouverites, and tourists could come and learn something about this city than eat something that they could most likely eat anywhere else in the city. Strathcona has the Dunlevy Snack Bar, The Wilder Snail, Union Street Market, Benny’s Market, etc. Do we really need another place to grab a sandwich, salad, coffee, sushi, or glass of wine? I feel like we actually need a place to learn and remember our history, where we came from, and where we are going.

    • By This Space, November 15, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments Amanda.

      We also value ways to promote the history of this area, including Hogan’s Alley. This Space is looking to put a small business in this retail store that can pay for the costs of operations (i.e. we don’t get any donations or government funding). How can we do this?

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