Category Archives: Businesses

Learning to Sew in New Westminster

At some point last fall I got the itch to start sewing.

I began dreaming about crafting my own clothes, mending existing garments and having the overall knowledge to begin a sewing project. Without any previous sewing experience, I got anxious and worried who to ask to teach me or to lend me their machine to practice on. I was prepared to self-teach and hope for the best.

But then, thanks to Google, I discovered Sew Good, a home-based business in Sapperton that offers a range of sewing classes for beginners like me. After the pre-requisite search for online reviews (all positive and encouraging), I signed up for an Intro Beginners class in February and committed to four three-hour evening sessions. My first project was a 6-panel, elastic waist skirt. Fancy.

The owner-operator, Carley Struve, is a friendly and extremely patient instructor who put me at ease instantly.  Her basement is retro-fitted into a sewing studio with four newer Janome electronic sewing machines, cutting tables, ironing boards and irons, and an assortment of other sewing paraphernalia. The small class sizes enables a lot of one-on-one time with Carley and the opportunity to converse with the other students while making sense of patterns, fabric choice, threading machines, etc.

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I loved learning how to sew in a supportive and fun environment. I enjoyed the camaraderie and shared experiences with the gals I was sewing with, but best of all was that I was doing it so close to home and not stuck in my car traveling across the Lower Mainland. However, some people don’t mind driving; I was the only student in all three of the classes I have taken in the past three months who has lived in New Westminster. I was really surprised to hear that people were traveling from other cities in the Greater Vancouver area to attend these classes. I think that says a lot for the quality of sewing classes offered at SewGood.

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I would consider myself a confident beginner sewer now and I am tackling projects at home on my new sewing machine (a mid-range Husqvarna, if you must know!), but I am still enrolled in classes at SewGood because:

  1. I like learning with other people; contributing ideas and questions within a group reinforces the information
  2. The projects all involve new technical aspects that I likely would have not taught myself
  3. It’s a night out once a week that I look forward to (and it’s a quick 5 minute drive)

I think Sew Good is a great place to learn to sew and to continue your sewing education. The SewGood Facebook page is kept current and includes inspiring photos of students projects and class updates.

Here’s hoping you begin or continue your sewing journey with as much pleasure as I have had.

 

Note: Andra was not asked to write this article, nor did SewGood compensate her in any way. 

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New West Needs Great Service Businesses Too! Limina Spa

When my husband and I first moved to New Westminster, in September 2011, all the talk was about how New Westminster needed some new business that weren’t Dollar Stores, Car Repair shops and Bridal Boutiques. Since then, a lot of great new businesses have come to New West- bringing more quality products and services.

Often the talk about the quality of the businesses revolves around restaurants and retail establishments. But New Westminster needs more then great restaurants. Susan, owner of Limina Spa, believes it’s time for New Westminster residents to have access to high quality spa services without having to travel into Vancouver. Susan is eager to get the word out about her spa and the quality services and experience it provides. Recently, she invited Jen Arbo and myself to come and experience her spa first hand.

When talking with Susan it is clear that she loves the community here in New West and is passionate about her business. Since she opened in about a year and half a go at the Shops at New West Station, she has seen a fair amount of construction outside her door- something she worries may be impacting potential customers from discovering her Spa. But she believes strongly she has something unique to offer New Westminster.

I was excited to try out Limina Spa—it has been a while since I had gone for a massage. For me, going to a spa is about the whole experience- not just the service itself. I love the calming music, sense of peace, smell of subtle natural essential oils. I like to go somewhere that has a great atmosphere and has clearly thought about the details.

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Limina Spa did not disappoint. The hot stone massage I had was amazing- one of the best massages I have had—and I have visited top spa’s in both Vancouver and Calgary.  Susan explained to me that many places just place the hot stones to warm up the skin and increase circulation- they do it a bit differently- they actually use the stones in the massage itself.

Jen said “The facial I had at Limina Spa was seriously the best facial I have ever had, and I am a spa junkie and have had a lot of facials. It was relaxing, all encompassing, and I felt completely taken care of during the facial. It was customized to me personally, and I walked out of there positively glowing.”

I noticed while I was in the spa that they had been named by the New West News Leader as a finalist of one of the best places to get a facial in New Westminster in 2012- so obviously Jen is one among many who feel that way. Their pedicure lounge is lovely and would be great to book for a pedicure party for a bridal shower, birthday party or other celebration.

The prices Limina Spa charges are higher then other places to get similar services in New West, but are very much in line with prices elsewhere in the Lower Mainland. To offset it they offer an Elite Membership ($29/yr) which gets you about 10-15% off the regular price of spa services. Each month, members are also offered a special at a further discounted rate— March’s special combines a full body exfoliation with a massage for maximum pampering.

Overall, Limina Spa is the type of business I want to support: local, run by a dedicated small business owner and offering quality to New Westminster.

Limina Spa

263-800 Carnarvon Street
The Plaza at New West Station

Hours:
Monday 10am-6pm
Tuesday 10am-6pm
Wednesday 11am-7pm
Thursday 10am-6pm
Friday 10am-6pm
Saturday 10am-6pm
Sunday By Appointments

(604) 525-0805
info@liminaspa.com
Facebook
Twitter

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Disclosure: Jen and I received spa services at no charge as a part of Limina’s invitation (facial, hot stone massage, pedicures, and underarm waxing). We were not asked to write this article. All opinions expressed are our own. 

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Hidden gems in Downtown New West

I like to support businesses in my neighbourhood of Downtown New Westminster. Many places make this easy for me to do: River Market, Zoom Hair Salon and Columbia Integrated Health Centre, for example, are active on social media and in the community and have curb appeal to spare. They are all fabulous and I can’t recommend any of them enough.

But then there are businesses that I walk past every day and never enter. They aren’t out there promoting themselves and they just don’t look like they have a lot to offer. But then, one day, I go in and realize how badly I’ve misjudged them.

These hidden gems that have been quietly providing a high standard of service to the community, at reasonable prices, without a lot of fanfare, and it’s about time they get some love. Here are three of my favorites:

Agnes Barber & Stylist is the best place to bring a squirmy toddler for a haircut!

Agnes Barber & Stylist is the best place to bring a squirmy toddler for a haircut! Photo: Linda M. Tobias

Agnes Barber & Stylist
607 Agnes Street 778.397.0460

Agnes Barber might look like any other barbershop in the neighbourhood (which rival wedding boutiques in number) but it’s hands-down the best place to bring your squirmy toddler boy for a haircut.

I used to take my kids to a fancy-pants kids’ hair salon at the mall. They would get a 10-minute haircut and a balloon, and I’d pay $60 for the two of them, after taxes and tip. Ouch! So when I spotted the motorcycle chair through the window at Agnes Barber, I took a chance.

Our barber, Kal, was one of the most patient and pleasant people I’ve ever met. Despite having people waiting, he took his time introducing my four-year-old to the “scary” electric shaver and stayed upbeat and cheerful while my little guy squirmed and fidgeted. My two-year-old, meanwhile, HATES getting his haircut and was in full meltdown mode. Kal dismissed my apologies and wasn’t fazed at all. His skilled hands worked very quickly to get the job done while he remained calm and soothing.

Both kids got great haircuts! Despite their best efforts to walk out with bald patches, their hair looked flawless. They got to sit on a motorcycle, wore a Disney cape and each walked out with a lollypop. They also enjoyed counting the birds the huge birdcage by the window. And to top it off, kids’ cuts cost only $10! You won’t be seeing me at the mall salon again.

Agnes Barber & Stylist is open Mon-Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 10am-5pm

 

Columbia Square Law Office has very reasonable Notary rates, and great customer service. Photo: Linda M. Tobias

Columbia Square Law Office has very reasonable Notary rates, and great customer service. Photo: Linda M. Tobias

Columbia Square Law Office

833 Carnarvon Street
604.526.6352
tjhewitt@cslaw.ca

I needed some notary services recently. My husband called around for rates and, to our surprise, discovered that the most reasonable rates (for a variety of legal services, not just notary) were right in our own neighbourhood at Columbia Square Law Office.

I went down to the office with trepidation. The exterior really does leave something to be desired. The bars on the windows, the drawn shades… it was all kind of off-putting. My opinion quickly changed when I walked through the door. The receptionist, Barbara, was instantly welcoming and made me feel like my time was valuable and that I was respected.

My personal experience with lawyers has shown me that being listened to and treated with respect is the best indication of how happy I’m going to be with the outcome of my legal representation. In this case, my interaction with Mike Jukic, one of the firm’s two lawyers was brief, but my gut told me that if I were in need of legal representation again, I could count on him to come through for me.

For any future legal services, I’m heading straight to Columbia Square Law Office.

Columbia Law Office is open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm, and Sat 10am-4pm

Columbia Square Animal Hospital

Unit 109-1015 Columbia Street (Columbia Square Plaza)
604.521.5572
columbiasq.ah@gmail.com

Dr Brar. Photo: Columbia Square Animal Hospital

Dr Brar. Photo: Columbia Square Animal Hospital

Columbia Square Animal Hospital is tucked away in the northeast corner of Columbia Square Plaza, by the Rona. Open the door and you’ll see a desk covered in brochures and samples, there are hard-backed chairs and stacks of pet food for sale. Nothing about the place seems particularly warm or inviting.

And then you meet Dr. Brar.

Dr. Brar is an amazing vet. He handles my kitty with gentle, but expert hands. He asks lots of questions and takes the time to address any concerns. And, unlike, other vets I’ve encountered in the past, I never get the feeling that he’s trying to upsell me on products or services. In fact, Columbia Square Animal Hospital’s prices are very fair (about half of what my last vet charged!) When I’m there, I feel like the focus is on providing the best possible care for my kitty and not on making a profit.

Columbia Square Animal Hospital is open daily, 8am-10pm

What New West businesses do you feel are overlooked? Sound off in the comments!

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The Hungry Hound appeals to Sapperton pet lovers

Inside the Hungry Hound

Inside the Hungry Hound

Everyone has their shopping weakness, and mine is a well stocked pet boutique. Not the kind selling doggie strollers and puppy sweaters – although my pit bull does look cute in pink – but a place with knowledgeable staff, natural foods, and well-made equipment and toys.

I meant to pop into Sapperton’s The Hungry Hound and simply take a look around, but I walked out with armfuls of stuff, a three-figure receipt, and absolutely no buyer’s remorse.

The Hungry Hound is a small store, managed by knowledgeable staff who have backgrounds in grooming, training and handling. They clearly love animals and are invested in their products. Every customer gets personalized attention and service, along with cookies and cuddles for any furry counterparts.

The store stocks only high-quality items for dogs, cats, birds and bunnies. The store is limited by its size so selection is not overwhelming but everything in stock is clearly chosen with care. The toys are reputable, durable brands like Tuffy’s, Chuckit!, West Paw and Kong. Food and treats include corn-free, wheat-free, whole food and single-protein options – just the thing for scrupulous pet owners or dogs with special dietary needs.

I spotted several local companies and specialty items, including supplements, training gear and medical equipment. Again, it’s a small store so it can’t be everything for everyone, but the selection covers the basics and the staff will work with you to find the right product, whether that means bringing your dog into the store for a fitting, returning a used item, or placing a special order.

Chica enjoys her new dinosaur toy from The Hungry Hound

Chica enjoys her new dinosaur toy from The Hungry Hound

When I learned about the buy-one-get-one and other sales for the holiday season, I abandoned my chitchat and started scooping up ChuckIts, bully sticks, and dehydrated sweet potatoes. At 50% off I even succumbed to a massive Tuffy dinosaur as an early Christmas present for my resident four-legger (you’re welcome, Chica).

Sapperton residents are faithful to The Hungry Hound, and it’s easy to see the appeal. It’s great for the pet guardian, especially one looking for good deals this time of year. It would also be an excellent resource if you’re shopping for a pet fanatic but not sure where to start. Either way, the folks at The Hungry Hound will hook you up.

The Hungry Hound
102 – 455 East Columbia
New Westminster, BC
778-397-3877
www.prefurredpetsupply.com

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Piccolo Gifts brings the world to Sapperton

 

Nesting dolls on the shelf at Piccolo. Photo: April Fahr.

Nesting dolls on the shelf at Piccolo. Photo: April Fahr.

Piccolo World Gifts is a small Sapperton storefront with a global worldview. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of bright, beautiful, and sometimes random treasures from around the world. It’s interesting enough on its own, but chatting with store owner Nancy Patrick brings a whole new appreciation to her collection.

Patrick is a highly accomplished business consultant with two PhDs and an impressive resume. Her travels have taken her around the world and she’s always managed to combine her business travel with exploration into other cultures’ art, artifacts, and collectibles. She sources her inventory directly from its country of origin and displays it by region, with each section flanked by artwork and coffee table books for context.

Stamps displayed at Piccolo World Gifts. Photo: April Fahr.

Stamps displayed at Piccolo World Gifts. Photo: April Fahr.

Committed to making exotic items accessible, Patrick works to keep prices reasonable and enjoys working one-on-one with customers to find a unique gift, whatever their price point. If you are shopping for anyone who’s known a home outside Canada, you’ll find something here that will resonate with them: ceramics, masks, sculpture, pottery, jewellery, accessories, and art abound from China, the Carribbean, Russia, Europe and a dozen other diverse regions.

Piccolo has one of the most comprehensive stamp and coin inventories around, whether you have a serious collector on your shopping list or (like me) you just enjoy the stunning presentation of the mounted collections.

Curios from Australia and the South Pacific. Photo: April Fahr.

Curios from Australia and the South Pacific. Photo: April Fahr.

Take advantage of the current holiday sales with 20-50% off items in-store, or combine your shopping trip with a visit to the in-store Piccolo Tea House, open December 2.

You can find Piccolo World Gifts at 420 East Columbia Street. The store is open Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm.

 

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The smile’s in the aisle: Thrifty Foods comes to New West

The new Thrifty's. Photo: Erin Jeffery.

The new Thrifty's. Photo: Erin Jeffery.

I have a confession. I have a Thrifty Foods problem. I grew up in Mill Bay BC (home of one of the first Thrifty Foods) so it holds a special place in my heart. I dream about the cheese scones and I wax philosophically about the marinated meats. It’s grocery nirvana. The first time I brought my husband home to the island, I told him we HAD to go to Thrifty Foods.

“Its just a grocery store, “ he said, “ I hate grocery stores”

“Not this one”, I smugged, “It’s special. It’s the happiest place on earth…it’s the Disney of grocery stores!”

He was not impressed. But he did like the scones.

As I was waiting to cross the street to check out the new store that opened today in Sapperton, I excitedly texted the aforementioned husband.

“The new Thrifty’s in Sapperton is open 24 hours seven days a week! HOORAY!”

“Oh great”, he responded “ I’ll never see you again”.

Islanders are passionate about Thrifty’s. Its a community grocery store that is more locally and sustainably focused than other big grocery chains. The outer perimeter of the store is filled with BC produce, local artisan baked goods and sweets, ocean wise seafood and, of course, Island Farms dairy products (yum). Grocery items in the centre of the store range from well known brands to locally canned preserves to Thrifty’s own label. Price wise, they are comparable on most things, but they do tend to be a bit higher priced for butcher items. The quality and selection is beyond compare. Think Whole foods without the big price tag.

Have I mentioned the scones?

The best thing for me about Thrifty’s has always been its staff. They are almost freakishly friendly.. Today, I had a cookie handed to me by one of the managers from my ‘hometown store’ who just came over to help. He had a friendly smile and nod (and cookie) for everyone who passed his way, chatting with them about the new store and how happy they were to be in New Westminster. I later was in the cereal aisle looking for oatmeal when out of nowhere, a helpful Thrifty-er explained the multiples pricing structure. Then thanked me for hanging out at their new store.

I think they might put something in the cookies…

I do wish that the outer perimeter was a bit wider to allow for carts and strollers to navigate through easier. The grocery aisles were nice and wide, but I did get in a traffic jam at the scones…they really are that good. I’d also recommend walking or taking the train if possible. Not only is it better for our planet, but the parking lot underneath the store is $5 an hour for parking. They do validate, but it’s still a bit steep. And with only one machine to pay for parking at, it can also get a wee bit busy.

All in all, I think this store is going to be a great addition to the New Westminster community. They already have scads of events coming up partnering with the Royal Columbia Hospital Foundation, and the store is sure to be a welcome addition to an area that doesn’t have many grocery stores in easy access.

Now, if you’ll excuse me…I hear a scone calling my name…

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New home decor store Sonse Home Design opens in Uptown New West

Sonse Home Design.

Sonse Home Design.

I heard about Sonse Home Design from Sheila Keenan whom I follow on Twitter (she writes a great blog about shopping locally in New West) a week or so ago. Promptly forgot about it, but caught a glimpse of Sonse today as I exited London Drugs and decided I’d better check it out before I forgot again!

It just opened a few weeks ago and the place looks amazing. Walking in, I experienced an immediate feeling of calm, sensed friendly energy and was drawn into her colourful and thoughtful staging. Joanne greeted me with a warm smile and friendly conversation.

We got to talking, and it turns out this is Joanne’s first foray into the retail rat race, but she’s got over 15 years of decorating experience in the television industry so she’s well equipped with design chops and her enthusiasm and knowledge shines through during our conversation. Clearly she’s a great resource, not to mention has a talented eye for the aesthetic, and offers staging, redecorating, room planning and holiday decorating services to support her retail location at 544 6th Street.

Sonse (pronounced son-say) is full of beautiful finds. Having just redecorated my home office in a cottage shabby shic style attempt, I was on the lookout for a few knick knacks and I hit the jackpot here! My budget is pretty weak, but I found some pretty seashells and may go back for gorgeous patterned wallpaper which I’ll frame as an inexpensive art option.

I’m glad I stopped by. Oh – and she’s been a New West resident for more than five years and couldn’t imagine opening a storefront anywhere else! Happy to support local shopping!

Find Sonse Home Design on Twitter or Facebook, or call 604-522-3377.

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Emilio’s Deli a friendly, family-run ‘be yourself’ kind of deli

Tony Sr. is proud that his son Niko wants to help serve the public and Niko is amazed at all the nice people on the Waterfront in New Westminster. Photo: Ken Wilkinson

Tony Sr. is proud that his son Niko wants to help serve the public and Niko is amazed at all the nice people on the Waterfront in New Westminster. Photo: Ken Wilkinson

With summer beginning, families are starting to enjoy Downtown New Westminster and the Waterfront and exploring the River Market. A very friendly family at Emilio’s Deli is really making people smile, reintroducing them to the Market and starting to introduce themselves. People smell the fresh variety of cheeses and meats, but the also see and hear the friendly father and his sons getting to know people.

Tony Sr. is a very warm-hearted man with a wide range of interesting experiences in his life. He’s watched and learned from his family through his entire life about delis and cooking and has always enjoyed it. Tony “loves the public” and wanted to find a way to show and enjoy what he’s learned and create what he calls a “family-oriented, be yourself kind of deli” for people to enjoy and for him to enjoy as well. With that great spirit he’s worked together with Donald’s and the River Market to create Emilio’s Deli (named after Tony Sr.’s father Emilio), so the legacy of his father could live on through Tony and his sons.

Tony Sr., along with his sons Niko and Tony Jr. are building a fresh and diverse variety of meats and cheeses for the public to enjoy. The whole family wants people to tell them what they enjoy and they are having fun together working towards their goal. One thing that Tony Sr. knew people liked were “nice, fresh and hefty sandwiches made individually for people.” To make them best, Tony hasn’t got a list of sandwiches. He meets people and finds out directly from each person individually and makes them what they want for a great price.

As well as Tony Sr., Tony Jr. and Niko are a key part of Emilio’s Deli. Niko is a young man learning quickly and enjoys working with his dad. Niko loves the Waterfront in New Westminster because he is “amazed at the good people around here – everyone is so nice.” People are very special to Niko, so working with his Dad and meeting all the nice people is making him excited. He has many ideas about how to help more people enjoy Emilio’s Deli and so Niko and Tony Jr. work constantly with their Dad to learn about the meats and cheeses and find out what people want. Along with Tony and the boys, Tony Sr.’s girlfriend Roberta also likes to help out when she can to enjoy people.

The boys help people understand and enjoy the variety of flavors Emilio’s offer and they also are learning about the unique combinations of meats and cheeses that different people enjoy. Together the whole family wants people to come down to Emilio’s to meet them and enjoy the food. The family is smiling because “people are starting to phone for party trays,” “sandwich platters are on the way” and want to thank all the people for their great support. “Specials are on the way!” according to the whole family.

Emilio’s Deli is easy to find. They’re just inside the door of Donald’s Market. They want to work together to help and enjoy all the new vendors starting up now or coming soon to the River Market. As Tony Sr. puts it, he “enjoys everyone and enjoys watching them enjoy the great stuff he provides at the deli” and as Niko says, he wants people to “Give us a chance and you be the Judge.” Emilio’s Deli is a yummy and friendly place for people to enjoy the waterfront and explore the many new and tasty combinations of meats, cheeses and sandwiches. Tony and his family help the personality of the waterfront emerge in a new way, while helping the great family spirit of New Westminster live on as it has for 150 years.

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Aroka Vintage a treasury for unique decor

This is a guest post by Neal Michael, who lives with his wife in the ever-changing downtown area of New West. His favourite things about New West include running through the different neighbourhoods each weekend, the boardwalk, the market, the architecture and his neighbours.

Inside Aroka Vintage.

Inside Aroka Vintage.

Tucked back off Columbia Street, sharing a cozy retail space with quirky Arundel Mansion is Aroka Vintage, a recently opened vintage décor wedding shop. Owned and run by Dawna Graham, a resident of New West, Aroka specializes in the sale and rental of niche décor items and dresses.

Not sure what qualifies as niche décor? Think ornate tea cups and saucers, glass dessert cups, finely decorated china, pewter candle sticks, brass clocks, lamps and more. It’s like stepping into a beautifully curated antique shop minus the dust.

Graham started the business to fill the niche for an increased demand of vintage décor items for weddings and other functions. Having previously owned a home décor business, she witnessed the move away from impersonal, cookie-cutter decorating to a focus on the unique, intimate and classic. Though a long-time collector and self-confessed market junkie, Graham spent just under a year and half to source and select her offerings from all over western Canada. Her extensive selection focuses on what she calls ‘true’ vintage or

More vintage goodness inside Aroka

More vintage goodness inside Aroka

pieces from pre-1970’s. Those pieces that have a story, not an Ikea stamp on them.

Though her shop would easily be at home in a more trendy area of the lower mainland, Graham cited New West as an ideal location for a number of reasons. “I live in New West, my grandfather is in the museum, my grandmother is buried in Fraser cemetery and the architecture. New Westminster was a natural fit.” Anyway, Aroka would be out of place in a newer commercial space. The plank floor, large glass frontage and rear windows all help showcase Graham’s collection.

Whether soon to be married or not, pop by Aroka Vintage for a look at Graham’s beautifully curated selection of vintage items. Who knows, you may just find a reason to get married.

Aroka Vintage is located at 42 Begbie Street. To reach the store, call 778-397-7999.

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Review: Queens Park Florist

There’s been a decided increase in the number of businesses that are calling the downtown area home, and contrary to (my long held) belief they are not all bridal salons and cheque cashing joints. Businesses like New West Cycle, Renaissance Books, Lofty Living, Urban Gypsy, the Hideout Cafe (tip, follow them on Twitter where they post the daily soup special with regularity) and the newly opened Red Brick (So new, in fact, all I can find is a Craigslist ad) are now populating the area. Cleverminks, a pioneer in the area, has sadly closed – but perhaps they were one of the first to recognize the potential in the neighbourhood before even the shoppers did.

Now, new developments like The Point, Quantum as well as the Plaza 88 development are bringing in a new kind of clientele. Many residents don’t rely on cars as much as those in say, Queensborough or Sapperton and so they look to their immediate neighbourhood to serve their needs.

So when I popped into Queens Park Florist (619 Carnarvon Street) today on the advice of Briana and Will, I was delighted to see not only a contemporary modern feel in their floral arrangements and decor, but also a customer patiently waiting on a custom arrangement.

Briana tells me that Queens Park Florist is her “most favouritest flower shop ever. Seriously.” That’s pretty high praise in my book. I know I can turn out a relatively nice arrangement of tulips (grab five bunches, stuff in a vase, voila) but it takes an eye to really put together something eye catching. Owner Yelena Bahshaliyeva believes the contemporary and modern feel of her business appeals to the residents moving into the downtown area. “We’re doing some different things, things not normally done by an average florist.” She’s right. How fun is this?

Yelena and her staff offer amazing designs: bright, bold, beautiful. Gone are the days with a pink carnation boutonniere with a spray of baby’s breath. Say hello to something different for weddings or prom:

 

There was a reasonable selection of delicate ferns, orchids, and other potted arrangements on display, and a fresh and happy miniature rose by the door. Like most flower shops, it smells divine in there, and the location is beautiful with sunlight streaming into the windows.

Queens Park Florist is holding an Open House on May 18th from 10am to 6pm (4-6 there will be refreshments) and everyone is invited. They’ll be unveiling their new season’s designs, which includes local plants and flowers – a fact that thrills me. The whole store will be turned into a showroom and I think everyone should go and check them out – including my husband. Hint, hint.

Queens Park Florist is located at 619 Carnarvon. They’re also on Facebook and you should go “like” them to receive updates of coming events. They do flowers for all occasions – corporate events and personal events including weddings and prom – and offer a monthly flower delivery subscription service and online ordering. You can reach them at 604-525-8022 or info@queensparkflorist.com. Check out this info sheet for some of their other upcoming summer promotions.

PS: Mother’s Day is May 8th and QPF delivers. I’m just saying.

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A Girl’s guide to preparing for the Army & Navy Shoe Sale

This year's Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Handout photo.

This year's Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Handout photo.

The Army & Navy Shoe Sale is always a sure sign of spring. It brings back memories of our annual shopping excursions to the New West store when I was a kid. When my sister and I were young, Mom started the tradition of annual shoe shopping, just us girls, wide eyed at the rows upon rows of shoes, so many options it was overwhelming.

We had to learn the best strategies early on. With that many shoppers and that many shoes you can’t just walk in and leisurely browse! So here are a few tips to navigate the sale, from one shoe-shopper to another.

  • You’ve gotta line up. Bring coffee, dress for the weather and get there a bit early. This way you can size up your fellow shoppers and get into the spirit of the sale.
  • Know what you are looking for. Do you need sandals for a summer wedding? Pumps for work? It’s overwhelming when you first get in there, wall to wall people, and way too many shoes to count. Survey what you’ve got before you go and have an idea of what you need/want this season.
  • If you see something you like, grab it! Get your hands on the right size and pick up whatever looks good. You can find a corner later and cull through your finds to make the final decision.
  • Put on each pair and walk around for a while, we all know that we won’t wear them if they hurt no matter how pretty they are.
  • Bring a friend. It’s an extra pair of arms to carry your finds, and extra pair of eyes to bring you back down to earth.

One last thing, be patient and polite. No need to elbow your way through: remember, shoe karma is the best kind!

This year’s Army & Navy shoe sale starts Wednesday, April 27 at 8 a.m. Army & Navy is also launching a “Shoes in the City” photo contest this week on their Facebook page where you can win VIP passes to the sale.

What are your tips for navigating the annual A&N Shoe Sale?

 

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Bloom Art Studio: messy & inspiring fun for kids

Wesley & Kale with their "shadows"

Wesley & Kale with their "shadows"

Note: Bloom Art Studio has offered a special contest for Tenth to the Fraser readers! Comment on this post to before April 21, 2011 and enter to win four free classes at the studio (valued at over $60). Plus, ‘like’ Bloom’s Facebook page for another chance to win!

Bloom Art Studio at River Market is a safe place for kids to get messy – without driving parents crazy.

Owner Kimberly Chiem recently invited me and Jen Arbo to bring our kids down  to experience one of her parent-and-toddler art classes. It was a simple activity I remembered doing when I was in elementary school: first the kids lay down on strips of kraft paper so the parents could trace them, then the parents cut out the silhouettes and taped them to the walls and windows for the kids to paint.

Our kids painted their “shadows” on the windows of the studio. Wesley glopped paint on the floor and all over the chairs. Kale channeled Jackson Pollock and started flinging paint against the window.

“Don’t worry about it,” said Kim. “I’ll clean it all up later.”

Wesley prepares an apple for stamping

Wesley prepares an apple for stamping

Magic words. At home, I like to craft with the kids, but I’m always a little leery of anything truly messy. It’s fun, but I always worry about the cleanup. In a space like Bloom, the kids are free to play with colour and form in a space that’s designed to handle mess. The washable paint cleans off their little wooden chairs and concrete floor. The wall is intended to be coloured on. And even the windows are fair game.

Wesley had so much fun that I brought him back another day, this time with his baby sister (aged16 months) in tow. That day’s plan involved fruit & vegetable stamping. Kimberly provided a plate with halved strawberries, bok choy, lemons, potatoes, apples and other produce and a selection of colourful paints. Once again the craft was simple (and messy): dip the fruit or veg in the paint and stamp it on paper.

Even my littlest enjoyed this craft, and when my son finished his prints and asked if he could have a brush to paint free-form, Kim was happy to go with the flow. A few little artists joined my son in asking for a brush, while others happily kept dipping & stamping their veggies.

Little Nora enjoyed painting too

Little Nora enjoyed painting too

Bloom Art Studio offers a variety of classes and events for kids, including “mini-camps” over Spring Break March 21-25. You can sign up for a series of lessons or opt for the drop-in rate ($8.57 + tax during the winter session). There are even some activities for grown-ups: a monthly Occasional Knitter’s Group (launching March 25 at 7pm) and a Japanese Hand-Built Pottery Class.

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The New Westminster Quay Market is Dead. Long live River Market!

The grand opening of Donald's Market drew a big crowd. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

The grand opening of Donald's Market drew a big crowd. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Today was the big reveal of Donald’s Market at River Market. Wow, can you believe that it was back in April that we finally learned who the New West River Market grocer tenant was? “Who would it be?” we all asked after months of guessing and deduction and mercelessly prodding River Market owener, Mark Shieh. But he wouldn’t say. Like Chuck Norris being interrogated by ex-soviet uranium smugglers, he vowed never to reveal the secret…. until finally, on March 31, he did.

And now, on the first day of snow at the beginning of the great winter of 2010/2011, more than half way through November, we can all see what Mark and his team from River Market have been building. I had my preconceptions: It would be small. It would be overpriced. Everything would be a little too crunchy, a little too righteous – a little too trendy for me and the gal I go with.

Donald's produce is great quality, good prices and reasonable selection. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Donald's produce is great quality, good prices and reasonable selection. Photo: Briana Tomkinson

But I was happily surprised! Sure there is a bit more space for Seventh Generation detergents and Happy Planet and Enviro Kidz and Nature’s Path, but they are part of the mix along side specialty foods, imported brands and food products from small producers and cottage industries. This was what I found to be the most compelling about this store: it has manages to differentiate itself from other options in town while not alienating the majority of potential shoppers with hard-to-sell product choices.

Other pluses: the prices are pretty good. Produce was of great quality and reasonable selection, at prices better than most New Westminsterites are used to (especially those reliant on the IGA). The quality was so good that even the small amount of fruit that we did buy (49c bannanas BTW) tasted noticeably better than the average. Prices through the whole store were in line with Safeway or Save-On-Foods – and better in some cases, as you would expect for a Grand Opening Sale. The Store was crowded and a little hard to move in but the staff were keen and helpful and obviously proud of their opening. Lots of Island Farms and Olympic Dairy products, Saltspring and Latin Organics brand coffee, bulk foods etc.

Another local blogger, Sheila Keenan, had a similar impression:

I’m not going to lie. I had my doubts, especially given that the renovations dragged on for so long and at least one of the tenant choices seemed goofy. When I heard the Vancouver Circus School was a tenant I was skeptical. What the heck is a circus school doing in a market? After attending the grand opening today, I found out what it’s doing there: being awesome. After all, which grocery store would you rather go to: normal grocery store with just groceries or grocery store where there’s a guy doing a handstand all the way down the escalator and a girl juggling all the way up? I pick the grocery store with the circus school. (In addition to classes, they are also going to offer birthday party packages.) I actually got a little teary-eyed on the drive home, thinking to myself that this marvelous place is in New Westminster.

I will be cautious in my criticism, as I am sure Donald’s and the River Market have a lot of work left to do, but there were some points I wanted to raise:

1)It is a tightly packed space. Sure it was crowded today, but even with normal foot traffic, I cannot see how anyone in a wheelchair, scooter or large stroller could navigate without a series of blushful apologies. The arrangement of cashiers doesnt help, but it is plain that Donald’s is making the most use of the space available.

Opening-day shoppers at Donald's also got to tour the rest of the River Market space (though much of it is still under construction). Photo: Briana Tomkinson

Opening-day shoppers at Donald's also got to tour the rest of the River Market space (though much of it is still under construction). Photo: Briana Tomkinson

2) Parking. It is the rare supermarket that requires a 200-meter walk to a paid parking lot. Donald’s will cater to a core clientele of condo-dwellers from the Quay and Downtown New West buying 2-3 bags of groceries, and it will feature a bicycle delivery service. But those of us in Queens Park and the West End who appreciate the curated inventory Donald’s offers will begrudge paying a $2.50 parking bill for the honour of lugging fancy groceries to the other side of the Fraser River Discovery Centre. I suggest a golf cart with a trolley behind it, like a hayride but no, um, hay. “Aaaaawll Abooord! River Market to Riverside Park by way of parking kiosk A and B!”

3) Similarly, the way into the rest of the market from Donald’s seems restrictive; like a too-narrow hallway. Do they need that wall there? For a packed space, they should use all of the free air space they can get.

That is about it! I think Donald’s will help to disperse the malaise that has settled in the minds of locals since the Quay Market closed. The New Westminster Quay Market is Dead. Long live River Market!

For more photos of the new Donald’s Market at River Market, please see the album on our Facebook Page.

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Small footprint, quality food at Donald’s Market

By now we’ve all heard the big news; Donald’s Market is coming to the River Market at the Quay. However if you’re like me (and everyone else I’ve spoken to except one person), your first reaction was, “What’s Donald’s Market?”

A selection of food from Donald's Market. Photo: Matthew Laird.

A selection of food from Donald's Market. Photo: Matthew Laird.

I had to take a field trip to answer this question. So over the past two weekends I jumped on the Skytrain, shopping bags in hand, to visit each of the Donald’s locations. First up, Commercial & 8th Avenue.

The first thing I noticed upon entering was the vast selection of beautiful produce. For a market its size they were very well-stocked. Typically there’s an inverse relationship between price and quality for produce, but a few quick spot checks revealed very reasonable prices. I was particularly impressed by the wide selection, having some non-traditional items for North American grocers such as enoki mushrooms and garlic stems (items I typically have to head toT&T for).

I began wandering the store exploring what other wonders it held. It’s a small store, packing a lot in to a small footprint. Knowing the size of the River Market building and making a guess about how much Donald’s will take up, this is a good sign that this merchant is willing to maximize space usage. Too often, small store size means small selection. Not here. Every inch of space was used; staff were continually wandering around restocking shelves.

Going down any aisle typically involved a polite “excuse me,” while sucking in your gut to squeeze past (some of us more than others these days. I’ll definitely take advantage of the opportunity to walk home with my groceries). But again, here I noticed the difference from your typical Safeway or Save-On-Foods: a lot of specialty items and organics.

The Asian food aisle was like a T&T highlights mini-store – almost everything I use when cooking the other half’s cuisine. The Italian section … I’ve never seen such a large selection of whole grain pasta. It was difficult to spot one that wasn’t either whole grain, organic or both. But this didn’t mean huge mark-ups either. Turning around to the opposite side of this aisle, there was an amazing selection of sauces, pestos, antipastos – everything you’d need for an authentic Italian meal. I know there’s a balance between 100 mile and supporting authentic, non-industrial producers of products that may not be made locally, but I won’t get in to that discussion at this point.

The next weekend I went to visit their other store on Hastings at Nanaimo. This store is about twice the size, giving a little more space in the aisles and a lot more shelf space. I’m sure the security guard was wondering why this guy was slowly walking up and down every aisle, examining every product. As someone who’d have become a chef in another life, I was like a kid in a candy store.

The first thing I noticed was the hot food counter. I remember Mark Shieh from the River Market said Donald’s customizes its stores for the local neighbourhood. The Commercial Drive store had more of an Italian feel, but this store with its hot Chinese food, sticky buns, and such counter had more of an Asian feel. Makes me wonder what localization the New Westminster store will have.

This store was also busy! That doesn’t mean crowded, but like the Commercial Drive store it was unquestionably popular with the neighbourhood. This didn’t slow the checkout lines, however. Both stores had enough staff at the checkout, typically with line-ups no more than one customer long. A nice change! I also noticed a lot of people carrying bike helmets, which I hope we’ll see at the River Market store.

But the thing that made me squeal for joy the loudest was the fact that Donald’s carries Island Farms products. Don’t ask me why, but I just find Island Farms milk tastes better. I’ll quote my father on how he describes milk from the other main regional dairy (which I shall not name), “Sometimes it tastes like they forgot to rinse the cleaner out of the tank.”

I’m not going to give a 100% positive review. Despite all this good, there was one item glaringly missing: a butcher. There was packaged meat, as you’d expect from any grocery store, but there wasn’t a butcher or fish counter with products such as thick-sliced  bacon or fresh-carved fish fillets. However, having heard Mark’s vision for the River Market, I’m sure this is an item that will be addressed either through Donald’s or through separate butcher and fish vendors setting up shop in the market. I need to find a closer source of the pork belly for my Chongqing recipe that goes along with the garlic stems mentioned before!

I was already excited about getting our market back, but after seeing for myself this shop which my one witness had raved about, I’m even more excited! Donald’s will be a fantastic addition to the Quayside and Downtown neighbourhoods.

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There’s a new game (store) in town

One of my many nerdy pleasures is games. Before having kids, I loved to play both computer games and board games. I even played a little Magic: The Gathering with friends (and liked it!). So you can perhaps imagine the little frisson of fun I felt when I stumbled upon a new board game shop just a block off New Westminster’s bridal boulevard.

Inside Board Game Warriors, at 708 Clarkson St.

Inside Board Game Warriors, at 708 Clarkson St.

Board Game Warriors, at 708 Clarkson St., is a little gem of a store tucked under the SkyTrain tracks. It offers a large selection of games for teen and adult gamers, plus a few for younger gamers age five and up.  Like Settlers of Catan? It looks like they’ve got every expansion ever made (and most were in store). Ditto for Carcassonne. The selection in-store seemed to lean towards the quasi-historical strategy games, but it may be that we just noticed what we like! There’s a lot to see.

But the very best thing about Board Game Warriors? Open box gaming nights. Three nights a week, board game lovers are invited to come and geek out on hundreds of games you can play for free. Talk about an awesome free night out with friends. No reservations are needed, just drop by with your posse and choose something to play. Open gaming sessions are listed on Board Game Warriors’ website, and are currently Tuesday and Thursday from 5-9pm and Saturday noon-7pm.

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Hyack the Holidays: That special something

New Westminster is a haven for unique boutiques. Perhaps it’s the character buildings lining our main shopping districts chock-a-block that draw the proprietors of these neat little businesses … or maybe just the low rents that can be found in some of our legendarily ‘up and coming’ neighbourhoods.

Here are some of my picks for places to go when you’re looking for that unique ‘special something’ for the person who’s hard to buy for.

Opulence, 437 E. Columbia St.

What a fun store to browse. Opulence specializes in everything Art Deco and Art Nouveau. It’s an eclectic assortment of jewelry, art prints, books, textiles, soaps & hand creams, with a few vintage lamps and other home accessories in the mix. I’m not a hand cream girl, but even I was seduced by the pretty period packaging. When the kids are big enough that they stop tugging at my earrings and breaking my necklaces, I plan on coming back to Opulence and treating myself to some bling.

Cadeaux, 467 E. Columbia St.

Cadeaux is well known for its jewelry and soaps, but they also have quite a collection of Christmas ornaments and silly stocking stuffers, as well as luxury pajama sets in the back.

Karmavore, 569 E. Columbia St.

A vegan specialty store, this is obviously an excellent place to find vegan beauty products, marshmallows , and ‘message’ stickers and jewelry. It’s also home to Astrosatchel bags, which even carnivores must admit are just plain stylish.

Clever Mink’s, 711 Carnarvon St.

Tucked away from the main drag, Clever Mink’s owners Brad and Nancy Gephart fill their cozy store with things that are just plain … neat. Funny T-shirts (that really will make you laugh), home decor and stocking stuffers … you never know quite what you’ll come across at Clever Mink’s.

Urban Gypsy, 614 Columbia St.

A Columbia St. favourite, Urban Gypsy stocks exotic furniture, jewelry and art from India, Nepal and other parts of South Asia. Owner Jason McGill has a keen eye for the unique and the beautiful. While most of the stock is big-ticket items like furniture, the jewelry is quite reasonably priced and there’s always a selection of smaller items near the back – things like photo frames, paper journals, candleholders and so on.

Lofty Living, 610 Columbia St.

At Lofty Living, they’ve got a thing for birds. You’ll find arty avians on pillows, laptop bags, cards, placemats … even salt & pepper shakers. I always love to browse through the store – and not just because I happen to like birds! With so many antique stores in New West, it’s refreshing to see a sleek, modern look juxtaposed with our heritage architecture.

Tranquility Art & Gifts, Royal City Centre

Ok, so this is the kind of store I wouldn’t normally bother to check out; I’m usually not too impressed with mall stores that sell framed art prints. But in planning the Hyack the Holidays series, I made a special effort to step into stores I wouldn’t normally frequent just in case there were some hidden gems. To my surprise, this was one of them. While I’m just not the target market for the scented soaps and Easter Island tissue holders (you pull the tissue out the nose of the “faux-pierre” face …) I actually ended up buying a few things in there. I’d recommend stopping in here if you’re looking for stocking stuffers (things like reusable fabric bags that tuck away into a wallet-sized pouch, pretty matchboxes, scalp massagers, Christmas ornaments and small stuffed animals) or for women’s accessories. I bought a collapsible red wool cloche hat for myself and thought the handbags and jewelry would be worth a look if I had another woman to buy for.

Adriana’s, Royal City Centre

Again with the scented everything … but there were also some cute & colourful kitchen and garden accessories that would be great stocking stuffers for a woman. When I was in, Adriana’s had bird-shaped kitchen scissors, pretty painted garden trowels and veggie scrub brushes, and special hand creams for gardeners.

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Hyack the Holidays: Gifts for Kids

With a DS- and Pokemon-obsessed eight-year-old stepson, a two-year-old whose alter ego is Prince Philip the Knight and a newborn girl I’m looking forward to spoil, I’ve had a personal interest in finding good local Christmas gifts & activities for kiddies.

Here’s where I’ve been shopping for gifts for my kids here in New West. (Hint: Sapperton is the place to be!)

Pedagogy Toys, 424 East Columbia St.

Pedagogy Toys at 434 Columbia St., New Westminster.

Pedagogy Toys in New Westminster.

If  cartoon character-branded toys turn you off, look here for toys for your toddler to preteen. Pedagogy has loads of family games, including some for as young as three, science & craft kids for older kids, handmade Christmas Crackers and loads of stocking stuffer toys. I particularly like the WOW Toys line of friction-powered cars & trucks for toddlers (my son is enthralled with the fire truck, as you will read below ….) and the build-your-own marble run by Quadrilla. Pedagogy also carries Settlers of Catan, among other excellent games.

Unlike Toys-R-Us, Pedagogy is actually kid-friendly: there’s a play table in the back with a small selection of toys to keep small kids busy while you shop.

Owner Karen Smecher has a pack of small children at home, and so she is savvy to the travails of mothers shopping with toddlers. The first time I took my son there, I hadn’t cottoned on to the magic of the timer (i.e. a warning that when the timer on my phone goes, it’s time to leave) and, typically two, my sweet Wesley was on the verge of an all-out tantrum to protest being taken away from playing with Ernie the Fire Truck. Karen swooped in to the rescue with the offer of a ‘pocket penguin’ to take home. She strategically positioned herself and the bucket of tiny penguin figurines by the door, and after he chose his penguins (one for each hand, of course) he was so preoccupied with taking them in and out of his pockets that he didn’t protest at all at being ushered out the door. Now that’s service.

Next to Pedagogy, you’ll find Kids Kloset (420 East Columbia St.), a consignment store that also has new clothing and accessories for sale. I find Kids Kloset a bit crowded, but they have some adorable rain gear for toddlers and last time I was in, I was admiring the stylish diaper bags & lunch bags for Mom.

A few other gift ideas I had for kids in the Sapperton area:

If you’re shopping for a little girl, you should mosey on over to 12th St. and  check out Kiss A Frog (948 12th St.) too. While they carry toys and clothing suitable for both girls and boys, they have a stunning selection of girls’ party dresses and fancy accessories that will make you melt – not to mention light up your daughter’s eyes when she sees it! You can also find Melissa & Doug style wooden toys here, and some unusual kids’ things. This is where Santa has sourced the miniature accordion and wind-up dino Wesley will find under the tree Christmas Day, for example.

Clever Mink’s (711 Carnarvon), one of our sponsors, often has toys among their selection of eclectic gifts. Last year I bought a lovely wooden train puzzle/pull-toy for Wesley there.

Parents of Lego maniacs should also stop by Shamryn Hobbies (612 Carnarvon St.) for an impressive selection of Lego kits, model trains and (oddly) Webkinz. Plus, there’s a pre-Christmas sale on right now and everything in the store is 20-30% off.

I also did a local crafter search on Etsy, and found a couple of neat gift ideas made right here in New West:

If shopping online is more your style, Pinky & Company, run by local mom of two Alix Cote (also a sponsor of our blog), sells baby leggings, ironic T-shirts for toddlers, diaper bags for dads, ‘hooter hiders’ for nursing moms and more.

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A Tale of Two Supermarkets

It was the best of stores, it was the worst of stores….well, nothing is that simple.

The new Save On Foods in New West, just before the official opening. Photo: Jocelyn Tomkinson

The new Save On Foods in New West, just before the official opening. Photo: Jocelyn Tomkinson

New Westminster residents, like folks all over, develop a preference for grocery stores. Those of us habituated to the 6th Ave. Safeway in the Royal City Center have had our choice expanded as the Save on Foods has recently opened in New Westminster Center, on 6th st. Like anything, our individual choices will be based on a number of factors including location, layout, staff, selection and price. While it is impossible to say one is the best of stores and one is the worst of stores, your author has gum-shoed around the two uptown establishments to get the skinny on your neighbourhood grocers.

Leaving aside pricing differences, I will start with my impressions. Initial impressions of the new Save on Foods store on 6th St are mixed. The store is small and tightly packed. It feels crowded even when there are few shoppers. The merchandisers have made good use of every inch of space and it is well organized. The parking lot is smallish and the spaces are very close together. I can imagine that on a busy day a driver would have to be patient as the parking and departing cars carefully negotiated the narrow spaces. The store itself is very well lit, the staff are few but helpful, the checkouts feature a self check-out option, a feature I have seen in other stores that always seems to take longer than a professional cashier. I will test those another time. The carts are all new and they behave themselves. The kiddie carts are at the customer service desk and are shaped like a space shuttle. It should be noted that the kiddie carts can not be taken down to the parkade as they are not suited to the escalator-ramp. A parent parked in the underground lot will have to transfer the groceries to a standard cart or use carry out service. One thing that stood out in this store was the bulk foods section. There is a very wide assortment of goods to choose from here, easily double the choice at Safeway. It is well organized, clearly signed and it features easy to use dispensers, including coffee beans, nuts, staples, candies, cereals, etc.

I can’t quite remember if this was a “Food Barn” store or “Super Valu” but in my childhood, I remember the same space being used for grocery store purposes. Like the mini-golf and the old Westminster Mall shopping mall before it, the space seemed bigger then. Now, the building has undergone the latest in a series of renovations, making this building one of the most often re-used structures in the city. It was rebuilt to LEED standards; the first platinum rating in the province but I wonder if any of that environmental ethic was passed on to the choice of produce coolers, refrigeration units and other electricity guzzling retail furniture. Overall, despite the crowded feeling, I found the shopping experience pleasant.

For the Safeway store, tucked in the western end of the Royal City Center on 6th Ave across from the Library, my experiences there are familiar as they are to many New Westminster citizens. The parking lot is large and offers more space to move around but always seems busy. The store itself is less well lit but it is much bigger and spread out. It is always buzzing with customers and it is hard to go through the store without one or more of the numerous staff asking if they can help. The cashiers are so familiar, you know which ones to avoid and which ones might remember your two-year-old’s name. It is a pretty easy shop with few surprises. It features a full pharmacy and florist and the bakery seems a bit more capable. While I buy all of my meat from Pete at the Queen’s Park Meat Market on 2nd st, Safeway seems to always have butchers on duty cutting and packaging meat and fish.

Like the new Save on Foods, longtime residents are familiar with having a grocery store in this part of town as it is roughly in the same position as the Woodward’s Food Floor. Customers at Safeway can trundle their carts right out into the parking lot or the sidewalk with no additional stairs, ramps or escalators. The store offers two rather dilapidated kiddie carts.

For the price comparison, I used the Official Tenth to the Fraser Sample Grocery List. This is my best guess at the products that are most relevant for my family and the average New Westminsterite. While I will try to compare regular prices as much as possible, much of the selection is on sale at any given time. Where relevant I have included additional sale pricing info. Prices as of Aug 2, 2009.

It is difficult to find a true pattern here. With some exceptions, staples may be cheaper at Safeway and all of the extras cheaper at Save on Foods. Price is not everything of course and the minor differences in prices may even themselves out in a full grocery cart.

A note about both grocery stores: why do they have to display magazines with disgusting headlines at kiddie eye level at the cashiers? We have no choice but to see them. Our kids have no choice but to see them. It is invariably a Cosmopolitan magazine cover that shouts “How to be an Orgasm Whisperer” or “100 sex moves to make him beg”. Now bikini models are one thing but can you imagine your four year old, just learning to read asking “daddy, what is a bad girl sex trick?” I am always compelled to cover them or the most offensive covers  in any store that displays this text at the front cashiers. I agree that this is a bizarre tactic but  I encourage all of you to do the same. Protecting the brains of 4 year olds is not a religious goal as anyone that knows me will attest. I just think it is the right thing to do.

Lastly, these are not the only two stores in New Westminster. There are a number of smaller operations, produce marts, butchers etc. Wal-Mart sells groceries in Queensborough, McBride Safeway, IGA at 10th and Columbia and many shop outside the city for the lower prices at Price Smart Foods on Marine and (much cheaper) Super Store on Lougheed near Maillardville.

Like me, you may do much of your shopping at the Farmers Market and in locally oriented businesses. Whatever the case, tell us about your best grocery deals and how you navigate the food-retail labyrinth. We would love to know. If there is keen interest, Tenth to the Fraser could make a regular series on the subject. Perhaps a price savvy customer base may result in lower prices. Use the comment button below to register your experiences.

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12th Street Festival this Sunday. Celebrate New West Neighbourhoods!

Another great event for New Westminster is coming up on the rapidly changing 12th street area. Significant infrastructure upgrades and livability features have recently been installed and the merchants association sees a bright future ahead.

Merchants, associations and community groups will join with special events all along 12th street, providing a wide array of activities. Tenth to the Fraser will be there (just look outside the Village Coffee House).Come on out and be part of your New Westminster!

Sunday August 2nd. 11:30 to 4:00.

From the official announcement:

Set along 12th Street between 6th and 10th Avenues, the upcoming 12th Street Festival features a day of fun and entertainment for everyone. The annual community event presents a free program of live music, children’s entertainment, displays by local businesses and community groups, and events for kids and adults.

“It’s going to be fun for everyone,” said festival coordinator John Ashdown. “We have a great line-up of entertainment, exhibits and special events.”
Mayor Wayne Wright will welcome residents and visitors at 11:30AM from the main stage at 12th and Hamilton Streets. Shortly thereafter, at 12 Noon the Mayor will be at 12th and Edinburgh to unveil a unique mosaic created for the Step Up To 12th Street community art initiative.

“This is a wonderful community event that truly captures the spirit of this great neighbourhood,” said Mayor Wayne Wright. “I encourage everyone to come out and enjoy the fun.”

A dedicated Kid Zone at 12th Street and 8th Avenue features music and entertainment for children. Located in the parking lot behind Sprott-Shaw Community College, Kid Zone activities include balloon sculpture, face painting, chalk art and craft work shops.

The Rotary Parade of Wheels is a special event for kids of all ages to decorate and parade their bikes, scooters and wagons. Everyone who registers is eligible to win a $150 term deposit and prizes will be awarded for creatively decorated wheels.

Throughout the day festival goers can savour the eclectic flavours of 12th Street restaurants, cafes and shops. Local merchants are sponsoring a festival passport and scavenger hunt, and there’s an outdoor festival crafts market at London Place Plaza. With the oldest city in Western Canada celebrating its 150th Birthday, residents and visitors can enjoy a neighbourhood walk led by volunteers from St. Aidan’s Church.

Prior to the festival opening, MP Peter Julian and MLA Dawn Black will host a pancake breakfast for friends, volunteers and sponsors.

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10 noteworthy places in New West

This is a guest post by Rob Jones, who shares some of his first impressions of New Westminster as a new resident of our city. You can read more from Rob on his blog, The Delete Bin, and also find him on Twitter @clippernolan.

There are elements of every city that makes it unique, makes them feel like home.

My experience with big-small towns is well established, even if I am a recent resident of New Westminster. Like New West, my hometown of Oakville Ontario was founded next to a busy waterway; it was a shipbuilding centre when it was first founded in the 1800s, nestled against the expanse of Lake Ontario.

There are other similarities of course – the high streets, the parks, tree-lined streets, the cozy community feel, and even certain idiosyncrasies that don’t appeal to everyone, but help to make the place what it is.

So, with this in mind here are 10 places of noteworthiness that I’ve discovered in my first few months here in New Westminster. There are some you know, and maybe a few you haven’t thought much about. Yet, if its true first impressions you’re after from a New West newbie such as myself, you’ve come to the right place.

1. 6th and 6th

In living on the other side of the Fraser for the last few years, I really missed the old-fashioned high street, the main drag that is within walking distance of home. Having done time in the land of big box stores, malls the size of the Death Star, and traffic-clogged main streets that seem to be excuses for big brands to plaster their names all over everything, coming to a place where this is less the case was a welcome change.

6th and 6th.  Image courtesy of Dennis Hurd

6th and 6th. Image courtesy of Dennis Hurd

This is not to say that there aren’t big name stores along this intersection and surrounding area – there certainly are. But, somehow, the signs seem like less of a crass branding exercise, and more of a vital centre of small town commerce, even if this really isn’t a small town. This is one of the strengths of this area – maintaining that balance between the two solitudes of small town coziness and the convenience and energy of the city. 6th and 6th , and the surrounding area from the Library down to 4th avenue, epitomizes this for me.

2. Moody Park

Named after Colonel Richard Clement Moody (born in Barbados, where my dad was born and raised, coincidentally…) who founded New Westminster in 1859 , Moody Park rests between 6th Avenue and 8th avenue, and 10th street and 8th street. My daughter and I take walks there, conveniently located as it is just up the street from my apartment. It is a wonderland of monkey bars, slides, sporting fields, and soon enough, a pool too . The squirrels dart from tree to tree, hoping for alms from those walking their dogs or their kids. It is a place of innocence and good clean fun – by day at least.

My Daughter AKA 'The Girl'. Image courtesy of Adrienne Theissen of Gemeni Visuals

It’s also been the site of many awkward exchanges for me with other parents, while our children are busy becoming instant friends in the playground. Strange how that works; that certain things that are insurmountable as children are conquered with the experiences of adulthood, yet with some things lost, too. I’m talking about the ability to make instant connections, and to hitch one’s imaginations to those of another without a second thought, and without much effort if any at all.

3. The Salvation Army Store

Where can you get a blazer, a set of towels, a comforter, a Spider Robinson novel, and an old-fashioned bona fide Faerie Queen china doll in one trip for less than twenty bucks? It’s the Salvation Army superstore on Columbia street, right at the foot of 8th street, of course, with the promise of ‘1000s of items arriving daily!’

Salvation Army Store, Columbia Street New Westminster.  Image courtesy of Starksilver.com

Salvation Army Store, Columbia Street New Westminster. Image courtesy of Starksilvercreek.com

Recently, I’ve had the occasion to go hunting for housewares, which I could do at a WalMart I guess. But with a treasure trove of cheap and charitable goods right off of New Westminster Skytrain, I can’t think of why I would. In other communities, many of these items can be found in various box stores. But, that’s just shopping, isn’t it. I’d rather go on a treasure hunt any day. And in the Salvation Army store, that’s what it feels like every time.

4. ‘Wedding District’

I’ve never seen anything like it. All along Columbia Street are a collection of wedding dress stores and tuxedo rentals, parked right next to each other as if there aren’t any other places to get this sort of thing for miles around. Also, with the selection of florists along here, one could practically source everything one needs a wedding, including specialty items. Want a vampire theme? No problem – they’ve got a dress for that, and quasi-medieval menswear to match. Name it, and you can probably get married in it.

Image courtesy of Image in White, 554 Columbia Street, New Westminster

Image courtesy of Image in White, 554 Columbia Street, New Westminster

And with the Paramount theatre just down the street, where athletically-figured women remove their attire for the benefit of male patrons to the strains of yesterday’s hit parade, the Groom can have his stag while the flowers are decided upon – all in one district! That’s convenience! And I haven’t even mentioned the tattoo parlor, which (if they have any sense) must have an ongoing two-for-one lovebird special. It gets you to the church on time, kids!

5. 8th street hill

Before I moved here, I had the occasion to climb the hill in order to pick up my car from Artman Automotive. The shop, actually run by a knowledgeable and honest guy called Art, and is on Royal Avenue near Douglas College. This is roughly at the crest of one of the steepest hills I’ve ever had to climb, just shy of ‘Historic Brow of the Hill’, where I now reside these many years later.

And here is the station at the bottom of the hill - the place of decision-making: bus or walk?  Image courtesy of  Fujitariuji.  Click image to view Flickr stream

And here is the station at the bottom of the hill - the place of decision-making: bus or walk? Image courtesy of Fujitariuji. Click image to view Flickr stream

During my ascent, being reminded of my mortality the whole way, the best adjective to describe me on achieving the crest of Royal avenue from 8th street was ‘vincible’, as in the opposite of invincible. But, once I caught my breath, I found that the view is incredible – the river, the expanse of downtown New West and the shores of North Delta, and the fatigued Douglas College students climbing the hill from New West Skytrain Station as if searching for Enlightenment itself. Yet, do I climb this hill everyday on foot, or do I take the trusty 123 bus, even if I have to wait without shelter, knee-deep in cigarette butts, and within earshot of multiple one-way teenaged cellphone conversations? I’ll let you guess, but the answer is as easy as 1-2-3.

6. The Quay

This is another locale for me and my daughter; for walks and talks, lots of questions for her part, and few answers for mine. The quay is our place for paying homage to the world’s tallest tin soldier, the tugboat (courtesy of Expo ’86, and moved to New Westminster Quay the following year), the beautiful gardens, and the ducks and other waterfowl who walk the same routes as any quaysider in a living example of interspecies respect and understanding.

From New Westminster Quay.  Image Courtesy of Intelligent Calcium.  Click image to view Flickr Stream

From New Westminster Quay. Image Courtesy of Intelligent Calcium. Click image to view Flickr Stream

The quay has been the host of many an event since I’ve been here, from Philippines Independence Day celebrations to Canada Day Fireworks. It is a vibrant gathering place for the community, young and old. If only they’d open the Market again! What’s up with that?

7. Queen’s Park

One has to respect a town who celebrates the traditions of blowing sh*t up so enthusiastically. I am of course talking about my first trip to Queen’s Park during the Hyack Festival Anvil Salute, which occurs every year on the occasion of Victoria Day, the day in which we honour of the monarch who named this town of ours.

Image courtesy of CanadaGood.  Click image to view Flickr stream.

Image courtesy of CanadaGood. Click image to view Flickr stream.

Queen’s Park is a shady environs where monkey bars and slides live along side an honest to goodness petting zoo – goats, sheep, and rabbits, not to mention non-pettable peacocks. But, when we were there, it was all about the gunpowder n’ noise in Queen’s Park Stadium . The combustibly-derived racket in question is perpetrated by guys dressed in some sort of period garb that might be described as Special Forces British Morris Dancers with demolition expertise. These flamboyantly attired fellows blow up anvils using very long fuses to the delight of a significant crowd. Where else are you going to get to see something like that?

8. Antique Alley

Right along the railroad tracks on Front Street is Antique alley, a series of storefronts under the shade of the parking garage built above the road, supporting the parking requirements of shoppers and tourists that frequent Columbia Street and the Quay. There are antique shops along here of course, but also specialty clothing stores including a goth boutique, which is adequately rife with shadows, spacious as a cathedral crypt, and haunted by a very affectionate cat called Merlin.

Antique Alley, from Columbia avenue.  Image courtesy of Silly G Wailo.  Click image to view Flickr Stream

Antique Alley, from Columbia Street. Image courtesy of Silly G Wailo. Click image to view Flickr Stream

What’s most striking to me is how full of character this strip is, yet how underdeveloped it is too. So many of the storefronts are seemingly abandoned, and some which aren’t just look like they are. Maybe this area is too closed off from the high street to be accessible, or profitable. Yet, it is charmingly seedy, and bursting with potential for more speciality stores, and in my imagination, a series of small music venues within stumbling distance of the Skytrain and bus services.

9. The Waffle House

Three of my favourite words in succession have to be ‘all day breakast’. And waffles are comfort food, loaded with life-shortening, yet exceedingly life-affirming, butter and syrup, washed down with cup after cup of coffee. The Waffle House on 6th street provides all of this, plus free newspapers and (otherwise) no frills, and all in the commercial shadow of the IHOP, mere meters away. Yet, where else can you order something called a Jiffy Wiffy Waffle with a straight face?

I have hosted two female friends at this establishment at different times in recent weeks, which make me think that the staff there, if they remember me at all, must think of me as the kind of guy to use waffles in some kind of low rent seduction tactic, or possibly as a means of recompense for not living up to seduction’s promise. Where this is of course not the case (both women are good friends of mine), I think the tactic might have legs.

10. 22nd Street Station

One of the first Skytrain stations I’d ever used was this one, dropped off after having visited a girlfriend of mine many years ago. I remember thinking that it was a commuter hub that was randomly plunked in the middle of nowhere. Yet 6th avenue and the Queensborough Bridge seem to draw significant traffic into it. I’ve come to know it as the ‘buses graveyard’, or ‘the land of apologizing buses’ – Sorry Not In Service. I wish they wouldn’t say ‘sorry’. But, I guess we are in Canada, aren’t we. Personally, I think ‘Out of Service – Deal With It’ would be more apropos.

22nd Street Station - busy, yet dead at the same time.  Image courtesy of FreakyChick.  Click image to view Flickr stream.

22nd Street Station - busy, yet dead at the same time. Image courtesy of FreakyChick. Click image to view Flickr stream.

Having come to use this station more and more, I think it really needs a reboot – maybe a bookstore, a café, even a convenience store. It needs something there where commuters, parents, and antsy teenagers heading into Richmond, can spend their time while their buses contemplate how sorry they are over the sin of being out of service. Perhaps the commuter traffic, and the revenue-generating traffic to any establishments placed there, might make that sin easier to forgive?

***
Here it is: I feel at home in New Westminster.

I like that it is community-based and there are a lot of places to take my daughter without having to drive. I like that it’s a bit weird too, like the time a guy yelled at me from across the street, asking me if I wanted to buy his radial arm saw – cash money, natch. I like that I can get Wifi in any number of retail locations within walking distance. I like that historic locations are treasured here, and that this town has memory – so many don’t. And I like that Stephen King’s IT was filmed here, perversely perhaps.

As a new resident, do I feel that there is room for improvement? Sure I do. But, it’s character that I most value in a place where I call home. And New West certainly has character. It has light and dark tones, civic pride, and urban decay. Yet, it is the spririt of the place that counts, defined as it is with a sense of history, blemishes and all.

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Metro Van’s only vegan store opens in New West

This is a guest post from Glenn Gaetz from Liberation B.C. , an animal rights group that advocates for a vegan lifestyle and an end to all exploitation of animals. You can find Glenn on Twitter @liberationbc.

A new business opened on Canada Day in New Westminster: Karmavore, an all-vegan store. This is the metro Vancouver area’s only vegan shop (short-lived Vegetate on Robson was the first).

Why a vegan shop? The owners wanted to run a business that was entirely in line with their values. A portion of profits are donated to animal-friendly charities, and the store has a policy of not supporting charities that support animal testing (which most of Canada’s health charities do). They are working to be as positive a business as possible, using only 100% recycled paper (when they must print) and only offering items for sale that are free of animal products, not tested on animals, environmentally friendly, and fair trade.

The shop itself is a cute little store on East Columbia. It’s a friendly and inviting space, with a beautiful dark floor and large front window.

Now that Karmavore is open, there is finally a store selling vegan shoes. No more hunting through regular shoe stores looking at labels and trying to figure out if that piece of shiny brown material is leather or not.

Although their selection is small (but will increase as time goes on) they’ve got some good, essential, basic shoes. For women, they have a range of shoes, from traditional dress shoes to high-heeled boots. For men, the selection is smaller, but includes dress shoes in black and brown, sandals, and some really cool sneakers from Vegetarian Shoes with recycled tire soles.

Currently, all of the t-shirts they’re selling come from Herbivore Clothing Company, a Portland vegan shirt maker, which means all of the t-shirts are cool and must-have additions to your closet. Herbivore is close to becoming the uniform for vegans. Their shirts feature clever and cool designs, and elicit praise from meat-eaters and vegans alike. The ‘I’m vegan and I ♥ You‘ shirt with the elephant is my current favorite. I can’t say it enough: Herbivore makes the best t-shirts ever. Plus, they’re all printed on American Apparel t-shirts, and they’ve been moving to printing on organic cotten as well. This means they’re more expensive than your normal t-shirt, but well worth the price in awesomeness.

They’ve also got some belts, wallets, and even gloves. To be honest, after looking at the shoes and shirts, I headed across the store to the food. One really smart move the owners made was to make sure there are plenty of lower-priced items so that no one ever needs to leave empty-handed. If none of the shoes or shirts strikes your fancy, you can grab a Sweet & Sara S’more and pop for the trip home.

The highlight of my trip out to the store was the marshmallows from the Chicago Soy Dairy. These are marshmallows like you had when you were a kid. Eating them is like eating bite-sized pillows made out of sugar. I have a theory that making them involves elves and magic, but the people from the Chicago Soy Dairy tell me this isn’t the case. I don’t actually believe them. They’re just too good.

They also sell some marshmallow mixes and other sweet things, vegan energy bars, makeup, vegan pet food, and books. The selection will hopefully grow as the store matures, so there will likely be new treasures to discover on the shelves.

If you can’t make it out to the store in person, or you just want to see what they have, visit their website (www.karmavore.ca). You can order online, read their blog, and find out more about them.

Being only a 30 minute skytrain ride from Downtown Vancouver makes the store really convenient. They’re about 6-8 blocks from the Sapperton skytrain station. It’s well worth a trip for anyone who wants to support a vegan business or check out some new alternatives. Plus, the people who work there are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, and the trip is worth it just to meet them.

Tell them I said hi!

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Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa

I’m told I am hard to shop for. People tell me that I’m picky and they are scared to buy me things I might not like. One gift that is always a winner in my books, is a gift certificate for a spa.  I’m a fan of pampering and preening and relaxation and any sort of rejuvenation that I put zero effort into and come out feeling better than when I went in. As a fan of spas, I have also become hyper critical of spas. 

A while back, my husband bought me a gift certficate for a full body massage at a local place that will remain nameless, and I walked out of there more tense than when I walked in. I felt rushed and annoyed. When I left, critical parts like my neck, shoulders, and upper back went completely untouched, and far too much time had been spent on areas like my hands and fingers. And while everyone like a good hand massage, I didn’t go in for a “full body massage” because I had tense hands.  

So when I recently received a gift certificate for Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa, I was eager to try out a new place. I decided to go for a facial this time, instead of a massage, and I selected their “Signature Facial” at $80 – which is a fairly average price for a proper facial. I can sum up my experience pretty succinctly: best facial ever

First, though, a note about Urban Phoenix’s location. The spa is located on the top floor of the very historic Galbraith House, an iconic and familiar building I pass by almost daily. This location provides amazing architecture and character – including fir floors, original interior doors, and amazing sloped walls – but it also means that you have to climb a lot of stairs to get to the spa and it did mean that passing traffic could be heard faintly during my treatment which did eventually fade into the white noise, but the noise was noticeable at first. The entrance to the spa is around the back of the property and parking is available both in a lot designated for the building, or on the street out front.  

Andrea is the esthetician at Urban Phoenix and she has 18+ years experience in a spa setting. She assessed my skin for me and we talked about the treatment she was going to do while she cleaned and prepped my skin. All facials are custom designed for each client as no two clients have the same skin. One of my biggest complaints about spas and facials is that you are frequently made to feel like some sort of a failure because you don’t walk in having perfect skin. As far as I am concerned, if I had perfect skin, I wouldn’t be there. Not only did Andrea understand that my breastfeeding son was partly to blame for my very dry skin, but she also didn’t chastise me when I sheepishly confessed that my skin care “regime” included well, nothing. 

She was efficient and knew exactly when to talk and when not to – also a skill that’s learned by spending countless hours servicing clients.  My actual facial treatment spanned just over an hour and never once felt rushed. It included steam, extractions, and rebalancing. As a bonus, I also received a neck and shoulder massage, hand and arm massage, and foot and calf massage. I also have to give a big thumbs up to the heated bed and also to the infrared heating pad placed at my lower back – very lovely. Afterward, Andrea provided me with a few samples of the products she had used to try at home, along with directions to use them.  

Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa offers a full complement of services. A full range of esthetics is provided by Andrea. Heather takes care of all the bodywork – and I am eager to try her Buddhist Massage which I am told is out of this world. The spa also offers accupuncture (of which $500 is now covered by MSP – awesome!) by Doreen, and most recently, they installed an infrared sauna. The spa is also happy to provide an ideal setting for a private party in the evenings – the perfect idea for a group of friends or a bridal shower. Provided at least 5 friends book treatments, they can accomodate up to 13 people, and you are welcome to bring your own refreshments and use their kitchen. 

This was a really enjoyable experience and I highly recommend them. Who needs a snooty, overpriced Yaletown spa when Urban Phoenix is right here? I left feeling like a million bucks and I will definitely be back. 

Urban Phoenix Wellness Spa is located at 131 8th Street in New Westminster – 604 523 0016 – www.urbanphoenixspa.com. They are open Tuesday – Friday 11-7, Saturdays 11-6, Sundays by appointment. Walk ins are welcome 12-5 daily. 

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Free Samples at the Village Coffee Lounge

Tenth to the Fraser regular reader and commenter, John Ashdown, from the Village Coffee Lounge (free wi-fi! Good food! Support local!) is a busy guy. Among other things,  he is also is on the board for the Royal City Farmer’s Market and is the newly elected president of the 12th Street Merchants’ Association. He has also graciously found time to agree to host a tasting party for little old me, and my fledgling tiny company-in-the-making, Chai By Night.  

On Saturday, February 28th, from 12PM to 2PM (or while supplies last), I’m inviting Tenth to the Fraser readers to pop by John’s coffee shop for a free taste of my chai. All you need to do is mention that you read it on this site and hopefully be willing to write a few anonymous comments on a piece of paper after you’ve had a sip. 

Hope to see you there!

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Take Your Sweet to 12th Street

I have to admit I am a little late getting this on the old blog. John, of the Village Coffee Lounge, told me about this event a few weeks ago and while I was waiting for the newly elected 12th Street Merchants Association president to get all the details sorted out and send me the blurb,  it completely slipped my mind until I was looking at my calendar and wondering what to do to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my husband. 

Take Your Sweet to 12th Street is an excellent way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and sample what the merchants on 12th Street have to offer to city residents. Many participating merchants will be offering discounts and bargains for the day. The Royal City Record has more details

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Breakfast and Blunch in New West

This is a guest post by Ruth Seeley of No Spin PR.

I’m more likely to go out for breakfast than for any other meal these days. Working from home, it means I can give my day a little ‘shape’ by getting up early, reading, writing, tweeting, pitching, greeting, etc. for three or four hours, then take a shower break and head out to do errands, get some fresh air, and have breakfast.

On bad days this sometimes doesn’t happen till 2 or 3PM, however, so I’ve had to invent a term to cover this late fast-breaking meal. I’m going with ‘blunch’ – deal with it.

Coming Home Café 753 6th St. at 8th (604-288-9850)

Cash only, but kick-ass food, small-portioned, bio-eco-friendly breakfasts. Great organic coffee, multigrain fruit breads, fresh eggs, funky furnishings – definitely worth a visit.

And that’s what I wrote before revisiting it. This morning I had a breakfast sandwich of two scrambled eggs, turkey, brie, and roasted veggies (eggplant, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms) with fruit salad (cantaloupe, red grapes, honeydew melon, dragon fruit, pineapple) and coffee – good KickAss coffee – for $8. I was so impressed I had to have a breakfast square as well, so I could continue to savour the coffee. As they say, ‘Like visiting Grandma if Grandma make KICK ASS Coffee!’ – maybe someone could tighten that slogan up a bit?

I keep trying to buy the cute little leopard print tub chairs from the café owners, but they seem determined to hang onto them. We’ve agreed I’ve got visitation rights though. Open seven days a week.

Heritage Grill on Urbanspoon The Heritage Grill @ 447 Columbia St. (604-759-0819)

Breakfast till noon. Decent coffee (second only to Coming Home Café, actually, in the coffee rankings). Nice breakfast for about $8 – sausages, crispy home fries, properly poached eggs, toast. Blunch at The Heritage Grill offers infinite possibilities: the crab cakes with avocado, apple and cilantro salsa, the roast turkey with cranberry sauce and Brie on ciabbatta, fresh mescalin mix salads with a saucy dill vinaigrette – mmmmmmmm.

Mom's Cafe on Urbanspoon Mom’s Café 821 12th Ave. at Edinburgh (604-524-2088)

Nice folks, including Mom, who nods and smiles and soaks up the sunshine. Mom’s is never crowded, the service is great, there are two tables right in the window and it’s on a quiet part of 12th so you can just sit there and slowly wake up. Breakfast specials (like the Truckers Breakfast, 2 eggs, bacon, toast, home fries) start at $3.25 (till 11AM, coffee or tea included). Best deal in town. Closed Mondays. Phone number’s changed since brochures were printed.

The Two Amelias

Amelia on Urbanspoon Amelia Restaurant @ 640 12th St. (604-522-3288)

Amelia’s has gone considerably upscale since my last visit a year ago, despite the endearingly outdated sign that promises free delivery. Amelia’s doesn’t deliver. It does, however, serve cheap and cheerful breakfasts, including a weekday perogie breakfast for around $6, a bagel breakfast, and real desserts like Mud Pie (should you be interested in taking the high-caffeine, high simple carbs, high fat breakfast route). Last time I was there I was tempted by the Monte Cristo sandwich – not too many places around serve ‘em. Its devotees won’t hear of eating at the other Amelia’s. They sort of sniff when you ask, ‘on 6th?’ Bad coffee.

Amelia Café @ 538 6th St. (604-520-3836)

Sometimes you can’t get into Amelia’s on 6th, which is what first sent me to Jim’s. Great breakfast specials here though if you can wait to eat till 10 or 11AM – I like the French toast, poached eggs and sausage special – with watery coffee, about $6. I try to avoid the coffee here. And there is a Starbucks right across the street.

Jim's Cafe on Urbanspoon Jim’s Café @ 518 6th St. (604-522-1288)

Cheap and cheerful with booths. Standard breakfast/greasy spoon fare. Stick with the traditional breakfasts and you can get in and out of Jim’s in 20 minutes for $6 or $7. Same bad coffee as Amelia Café.

Youngs Cafe on UrbanspoonYoung’s 612 12th St. (604-525-1238)

Classic greasy spoon, mixed Chinese/Canadian menu. Odd assortment of photos of the famous. I sat by Janis Lyn Joplin, B. Jan. 19, 1943. D. Oct. 4, 1970.

See Jim’s, the two Amelia’s, Mom’s.

International House of Pancakes (New Westminster) on UrbanspoonIHOP 514 8th Ave. @ 6th St. (604-521-3212)

I’ve headed to IHOP in mid-afternoon for ‘blunch’ a couple of times when I’ve forgotten to eat, for one reason or another. They make the best Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich I have ever had – with choice of onion rings, French fries, hashed browns and more. Not sure why I’ve headed back to IHOP twice to have one for breakfast, but I have. Whether it’s their specialty pancakes, French Toast, or just a standard bacon/sausage/ham/toast/eggs breakfast, IHOP delivers US-portion sized breakfasts and decent coffee served in carafes. The question is whether you want to pay $15 for breakfast or not, and sit along with Middle Canada (sorry, but if you’re looking for ‘edgy,’ head for The Heritage Grill and pray). Watch out for lineups on Sunday mornings. I prefer to go in mid- to late afternoon so I can have a booth to myself.

Moonrakers Neighbourhood Pub on UrbanspoonMoonraker’s

Again, when it’s more like blunch than breakfast, I sometimes head to Moonraker’s for their Reuben. It’s a fat, juicy smoked meat/pastrami sandwich on a nicely textured rye bread, with just the right amount of gooey Swiss cheese. It may well be the perfect antidote for both #snowmageddon and #fogmageddon. Certainly the little backroom library is charming. You never know what charming little tome you may encounter there. I hadn’t noticed the lingering smell of smoke, but it is a sports bar, so best for when you’re in a world of your own and the rowdiness just seems like background noise.

The Pantry 425 6th St. at 4th (604-421-7115)

Really good waffles – two and a half inches high – with something sinful on top, like ice cream or whipped cream or both – solid, non-intrusive service – decent coffee – a little pricey for what it is, but don’t cross it off your list entirely.

Waffle House on UrbanspoonWaffle House 636 6th St. (604-524-8118)

My visit to the Waffle House was completely unmemorable in terms of food and coffee (I would have either remembered or gone back if either had been good-to-great). What I do recall about my visit there was that it was noisy and crowded.

More New West restaurant listings

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