I thought of having some sort of inspirational quote about traveling in local parts to start this post off and then I realized that my journeys aren’t super inspirational. They’re just kinda fun and weird and crazy all at the same time (kinda like me, except I’m not always fun).
Some time ago (read: when I first moved into Vancouver) my aunt took me out to explore a bit so I’d start to become more familiar with the communities in and around Vancouver. Be assured that I have many communities still to check out… enough that I’ll probably still be blogging about them by the time I get back home. So we checked out West Fourth, a very chill stretch of street that runs all the way to Granville Island if you keep following it east. Local businesses, small chains and national retailers intermingle along this path and the eclectic mix makes for some fun window-shopping.
Of course, one of the first stops we walked into was Whole Foods. If you’re a Vancouverite reading this then you can probably skip ahead, but if you’re a Calgarian then you might understand when I tell you how weird it is that there are so many “organic,” “vegan-friendly,” “gluten-friendly,” and “fair-trade” markets around Vancouver. To be sure we have a decent farmers’ market going on and an increasing trend towards super-sustainable, local-supportive restaurants, but Vancouver is on a whole new level. Whole Foods is just one of a few super-sustainable, eco-friendly grocery store chains around Vancouver and they currently only have locations in Ontario and British Columbia.
The food looks delicious but of course the prices are made to match the social responsibility behind the food. A small apple pie feeding 8 people sells for $15, whereas one bought at Superstore can be bought for between $6-$10 at most. A small container of pre-whipped whipped cream goes for just under $4, whereas a 2L container of the same stuff can be bought for $2 elsewhere. The cakes below look pretty delicious for the cost, but they are significantly smaller than regular grocery store cakes. The cost of organic and local-friendly stores is pretty surprising, but then again it is (I think) quite the conscious lifestyle choice.
Of course, despite being a higher-income area, West Fourth’s vandalists still have a pretty funny sense of humour. This poster stuck out in a series of people including Bill Cosby and William Shakespeare.
O Bill Nye. You will always be found somewhere, somehow.
As you may have noticed above, there are quite a number of large-chain retailers on West Fourth. They add to the cheery atmosphere of the street overall, but we didn’t really go in.
What did catch our eyes, however, was this strange store, with its sparsely furnished front and its busy, jewel-like interior. Seriously. Check out that chandelier.
Can you guess what it was? I first thought it was a potpourri shop (at which point I also thought, “Wow, Vancouver has shops for everything!”) but it wasn’t. The strange things you see are all edible. They are, in fact…
… health-conscious veggie chips and organic munchies.
Okay, I’m confusing image-conscious and health-conscious, and they are certainly not the same thing although they may often come hand-in-hand…
… but the fact that there was a store made simply for the selling of organic and homemade munchies (all nuts and dried veggies, really) really boggled my mind. The store set-up was gorgeous; as you can see above and beside, bulk bins were constructed out of engraved, silver-toned, glass-domed basins while dazzling chandeliers hung overhead. The place was cool and airy despite the number of people that bustled around the store scooping treats out into bags to bring home.
This particular mix was gorgeous, consisting of okra, carrots and… I think there were yam chips as well but I couldn’t quite tell. Still, I think you can see why it looked like potpourri at first.
NOTE: After some brief Googling I’ve found out that the store is called Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and Nuts and the concept sounds pretty delicious. Prices do come at a bit of a premium but this is West Fourth, as well as “locally produced” and all those other wallet-awful labels.
As you can see though, local products are a huge thing here in Vancouver.
And with that last tea-bar shot, our couple hours of exploring wrapped up. Seeing all those local shops was really neat because of their product offerings and different target markets.
I have to say though, my favourite part about the day was the local greenery. Vancouver certainly has one thing going for it as a city that everyone can enjoy and that’s the greenery. This wasn’t near West Fourth (that O-Five Tea Bar was the last thing we saw, and it reminded me of O-sama) but this was near another relative’s house and, I thought, one of the best pictures to end the day’s picture tour.
Happy exploring around your area!