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 ( 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!

Local Business Review: SPCA Thrift Mart

I’m an avid thrift shopper and have spent years seeking out thrift shops that offer quality products. I have a few requirements that makes the perfect thrift shop and they include:

  • gives some proceeds to local charity
  • has friendly employees who are at least semi-helpful
  • has a good selection of items that are relatively new
  • is reasonably priced

I think most people are familiar with shops such as the Salvation Army thrift store and Value Village, but one of my favorites here in New Westminster is the SPCA Thrift Mart.

One of the reasons why I shop here is that they give to the SPCA and help animals in need. Roni Lyn Sanders, the proprietor of the SPCA Thrift Mart, is quite proud to tell you that in 2008, the SPCA Thrift Mart donated over $29000. For the past 15 years, the staff have also volunteered their time and effort and spearheaded a coat drive every December, and collect, store, organize and this year, they handed out approximately 6000 tonnes of winter coats to needy folks on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 

This store has long been located on 6th Avenue, just east of 12th Street, but recently relocated around the corner to 615 12th Street, at the corner of  12th Street and Nanaimo Street. I popped by the new shop the other day, hoping to find my usual haul of goodies and was not disappointed. I bought two sweaters for myself, a long sleeved T shirt, a brand new, never worn pair of Seven jeans (which were also conveniently hemmed to my shortie length already), four onesies for my son, and a handmade double lined fleece jacket for him as well – all for $30. The jeans alone would have cost me over $100. 

The racks are nicely organized and the store itself was tidy and neat. The furniture and housewares area is at the back of the store, and while completely crammed full, was also tidy.  I was also really happy to see all of the jewelry nicely displayed in really nice glass cases. 

Roni and Colleen and the other staff are friendly, chatty, and are true examples of good business citizens in our community. If you haven’t ever been there, try to make a point of stopping by to check them out. They won’t disappoint. 

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