I spent the last week in Vancouver working my sometimes-job of the last 6 years; providing mental health and addiction support in the Downtown Eastside. I love this neighbourhood, though it definitely has a bad reputation. Before moving to Gabriola I lived at Gore and Alexander for over 5 years and really liked being close to so many great parks, restaurants, stores and people. While out and about in the ‘hood I hit up some of my favourite shops, listed here for your viewing pleasure!
The Window at 1 West Hastings (next to Army and Navy and below the PHS operated Beacon Hotel). The Window is a social enterprise arts and crafts consignment store owned and operated by PHS Community Services where members of the community can sell their crafty products to generate income. This store has everything from shirts, aprons and canvas totes to beautiful jewelry and even locally produced honey. I have had my plush monsters for sale here as well – currently sold out (but more to come soon!). They also run sewing classes and workshops out of the back of the store to teach skills to people in and around the community.
During my visit I picked up some flyers for LOCO, which you should totally check out if you are interested in local businesses (which you should be)!
Community Thrift & Vintage at 41 West Cordova Street (below the PHS operated New Fountain Shelter/Stanley Hotel). This store is the best!! It’s got a great selection of men’s and unisex clothes at really really reasonable prices, which is hard to find in Vancouver as “vintage” usually = huge price tag. At Xmas time I found a 1980’s Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy in good condition for my sister’s BF, who loves WWF/WWE. And it was only $20. I basically won Xmas 2013. Thank you Community!
They also operate a Frock Shoppe at 311 Carral Street, right next to the PHS operated Rainier Hotel, which is a women’s only facility offering housing, programs and support to women leaving harmful lifestyles in the DTES. The Frock Shoppe has mostly dresses, shoes and jewelry (women’s) and the men’s and unisex shop is, you guessed it, men’s and unisex. I way prefer to the unisex shop because it has band tees, denim vest and jackets, and lots of plaid shirts. And Hulk Hogans, if you’re lucky. Just like The Window, both of Community’s locations are owned and operated by the PHS and offer work opportunities to women who would otherwise experience barriers in finding employment.
Dressew at 337 West Hastings is THE HOLY GRAIL OF EVERYTHING. Fabric, notions, buttons, trim, ribbons, snaps, buckles, knitting needles, zippers, costumes, fluff for plushies and cushions… no word of a lie this store has everything. And it’s insanely cheap. If you haven’t been here you haven’t lived.
So two thirds of this kind of read like an advertisement for my employer, but they really do contribute in huge ways to the community in the DTES. And that makes me happy. Also, crafting. YES.