Helping Others Over the Holidays

Photo by sxc.hu user rosenhamer, used with permission

During the upcoming holiday season we frequently get asked about charity drives and other ways our readers can share the spirit of the holidays with other New Westminster residents. What we noticed this year is many of our local small businesses are taking the initiative to start something and we think that’s amazing. It’s hard enough to run a business but to also coordinate something selfless that contributes to the greater good of our community shows us that businesses in New Westminster really do acare about the community.

Here’s a round up of some of the programs we’ve managed to find (including a few initiatives by various community agencies), and we’d love it if you can add in the comments any you know of that we missed so that we can update this post.

Feeding the Hungry

Paul at the Heritage Grill for years has done an annual Christmas dinner where anyone can come in for a traditional turkey dinner at no cost at the Grill. His staff volunteer for the gig. Give him a call if you’d like to help out at 604 759 0819

Shoe Drive

The amazing women running Brick and Mortar Loving on Begbie are collecting mens’ shoes to give to the needy. Used or new, drop off your shoes at their store and they’ll be sure they get into the right hands.

18th Annual Coat Drive on the Downtown Eastside

Roni and her team at the Shop 4 Paws Thrift Shop on 12th is in need of donated coats for her 18th Annual Coat Drive that we’ve spotlit before that takes place Decembeer 10th.  Roni says that each person gets a coat, some warm soup, hot chocolate, and whatever socks, hats, and mittens they can muster up. She points out “many of the people who come to the coat drive are actually from New West – I see many of the same faces walking the streets of New West, so it is nice to know we are helping not only the folks from the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, but also folks from here, too.” Roni needs coats and helping hands, so contact her at the shop on 12th at 6th or call her at 604 540 7722.

Adopt a Family

The great folks at Family Services have stepped up this year to take over the Adopt A Family program. This year, they have about 120 families in need on their list, and only about 40 sponsors so far. Sponsors buy gifts or provide funds for the family and provide money for a Christmas celebration. Please contact them if you can help at adoptafamily@fsgv.ca or call 604 525 9144.

Cruise for Food

Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours is offering two upcoming charity cruises on December 2nd in benefit of the local food bank. Admission on the two sailings (one is from 2-3, the other is from 3:30-4:30) is by donation plus at least one canned good which will go directly to the Food Bank. As well, they’re happy to accept additional canned goods. The captain, crew, and live entertainment are all volunteering their time. Contact the tour office for more info and to make reservations (requested) at 604 525 4465 or email info@vancouverpaddlewheeler.com

Redbrick Home Holiday Special

Thursday November 29th, from 5-9pm Michael at Redbrick Home is offering a special evening of shopping, nibblies, beverages, discounts and helping the food bank. Bring in any non perishable food items, and receive discounts on merchandise (25% off any one regular priced item or 15% off any one sale priced item), and with any purchase, be entered to win a $250 gift card, drawn November 30th.

Sapperton Tree Sale

The 5th Annual Sapperton Tree Sale is happening December 9th, from 11-3 with all sorts of local Sapperton merchants supporting and sponsoring this event. Buy your tree while enjoying music and hot chocolate while you support the RCH Foundation. Please note, tree sales are cash only. Check out this poster for more info.

If you know of anymore we’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments!

Local gift ideas for Valentine’s Day in New Westminster

For a long time I thought Valentine’s Day was nothing but a Hallmark holiday artificially inflating the price of roses and chocolates. My preschooler changed my mind. My son loves all holidays and celebrations and to him, having a day to celebrate the people in your life who you love is a wonderful thing. It reminded me that you can take the Hallmark out of the holiday, and when you do, it can be a lovely way to take time out to show the people that matter to you that they are important in your life.

For those of you who are still looking for something to do with your sweetie on Valentine’s Day, here are my local picks:

Take a romantic walk
New West has a number of lovely places for a stroll. If the weather is fine (or if you’ve got a big umbrella to share), I’d recommend taking a ramble through the Queen’s Park boulevards to admire the heritage homes or along the Quay boardwalk to admire the river view.

Enjoy an experiential gift
Chocolates, flowers and jewelry can be lovely, but happiness has more to do with what you do than what you consume. Buy tickets to a show at Massey Theatre or the Bernie Legge, spring for a couples’ cooking lesson at Wild Rice, or support your partner in developing new skills in sewing, dancing, archery, swordplay, art or other interests.

Indulge in a spa treatment
Phoenix Wellness is a lovely spot to go for a facial or mani-pedi. For massages, I’ve heard good things about Shine on 12th St as well. I haven’t tried any of the other spas in town, but there are many to choose from.

Hire a pro to take some couples’ shots
When one of you is always holding the camera, it’s hard to get a good photo of the two of you together. There are a lot of talented photographers who work locally in New Westminster, and a ton of great spots for photo shoots. I’d suggest Tipperary Park, the Quay Boardwalk and downtown as a starting point, but the people who do a lot of photography here all have their favourite buildings and lookout points that are good for a picture.

Go out for a nice meal
The classic Valentine’s Day activity. Wild Rice has a special prix-fixe dinner for Valentine’s Day. Taverna Greka has good food and a great view of the Fraser, and if you’re looking for something a little different, Tamarind Hill‘s Malaysian cuisine is a tasty treat. If you’re going out tonight for an early Valentine’s Day treat, Karmavore is hosting a vegan mingler at their shop on Columbia St.

Stay in and cocoon
Order in and curl up to watch a romantic movie together. Okonomi Sushi delivers their delicious fresh sushi, Yianni’s will do pick up (their Greek-style roast lamb is superb), and Spring Garden has tasty, fresh Chinese fare. If you’re cooking, I’d suggest Queens Park Meat Market for quality meat and a butcher’s expertise, River Market’s Crab Shop for fresh fish and delicious make-at-home crab cakes, and Sapperton’s Bella Cakes for a sweet treat. Pick up a bottle of wine from the experts at Quayside Wine Cellar or go really local with Pacific Breeze‘s wonderful made-in-New West wines (I recommend their GSM blend and their Killer Cab if you like red wine).

Buy something special
For her: a unique necklace or earrings from Cadeaux on East Columbia or Tiny Finery in River Market, a guilt-free faux-leather handbag from Karmavore, pearls from The Urban Gypsy, or something for the home from Lofty Living, Red Brick or Sonse Home Design. If you’re buying flowers, I’d recommend a bouquet or potted plant from KJM Urban Gardens or one of the unique arrangements from Queen’s Park Florist.

For him: A classic pair of quality leather shoes from Copps, a fine bottle of whisky, or a copy of New Westminster author JJ Lee’s book Measure of a Man. If your man is a gamer, a new game from Board Game Warriors or a vintage console platformer from Press Start on 12th St could be just the ticket. If he likes RC toys, you can find a good selection of remote control helicopters and airplanes at SN Hobbies on 12th St and RC cars and trucks at Team 1 Hobbies on East Columbia. High-end pocketknives and similar accessories can be found at DS Tactical on 12th St and Westley Military Surplus on Front St.

What else would you recommend for a romantic Valentine’s Day gift in New Westminster?

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

Cadeaux Gifts: Impressive selection, quality finds, and reasonable prices

Cadeaux
Cadeaux

I have been known to make late night trips to large chain stores to buy necessities. Diapers, toilet paper, or an air freshener to mask the aroma from the ‘treat’ my kids left in the backseat and I still can’t find. Desperation and ‘open-till-midnight’ hours have forced my hand once or twice, but when it comes to gift giving I prefer to spend my time and money on a unique item selected from a unique shop.

I enjoy the process of Christmas shopping in particular. I meticulously make a list of recipients. I jot down a few items I have heard them mention, a bracelet perhaps, or a few words to describe them and their style such as conservative, flirty, and even impossible! I feel prepared; armed and ready to purchase thoughtful gifts. I used to head downtown, in the hopes I would find success amidst the plethora of boutique shops. I am ashamed to admit that I previously overlooked New West as a suitable shopping destination.

Now that I have lived in New West, and more importantly shopped here, I have become very attached to a few impressive boutique shops that rival and surpass many I have seen downtown!

One shop that never ceases to impress and entice me is Cadeaux Gifts in Sapperton. It is “a trendy boutique and gift store providing the best in essential indulgences” and is easily one of the Lower Mainland’s best-kept secrets.

They incorporate an ‘everything for everybody’ element into the shop and carry an extensive mix of unique items. There are home embellishments from entry mats to clocks; luxurious bath and beauty indulgences for head-to-toe pampering; stunning holiday decorations; and fashion must haves like handbags, scarves, and a jewelry collection to tempt every taste and style. This is just the proverbial tip-of-the-iceberg too. I have devoted many mornings to a leisurely stroll through the store, and I always find something new to gift or covet for myself.

While chatting with the shop’s owner and staff, I have learned that many of the irresistible items I have eyed (and drooled) over so many times are made by local companies and artisans. One local artist they seemed particularly proud to highlight is Karen Telio and her stunning collection of jewelry. Her pieces range from bold to subtle, trendy to traditional, and every adjective in between. It’s no exaggeration to say you could easily check a few special women off your shopping list after a glance in this jewelry cabinet (which is just one of many!)

Though I think more than any particular artisan, product, or display, what impresses me most is the affordability and quality of the items. As a mother of two, and a new homeowner, my pockets seem painfully less deep this year. I have yet to feel overwhelmed by sticker shock while perusing Cadeaux’s collection, and have always been impressed by the quality of items. While most of the store is stocked with unique and eye-catching goodies, I did see a few items that I have seen carried downtown at other boutiques. The difference being that Cadeaux isn’t competing with several similar boutiques on the street and is able to offer us many of the same items found downtown at significantly lower prices.

Impressive selection, reasonable prices, and quality items! What more can you ask for? How about impeccable customer service? The staff at Cadeaux always welcomes you with a smile, offers help without being pushy, and really listen to what you want and need. It’s like having a personal shopper at your side. In fact, they are so invested in your shopping experience being fun, stress free and successful that they actually offer personal shopping assistance. Their website boasts “Give us a call and book your own personal shopping session. Our staff will happily talk you through our store, and find the best gifts for the special people on your list, and make your shopping experience that much happier!”

Its cliché, but I dare you to shop Cadeaux and leave with nothing! Make sure to give yourself ample time to dawdle, sample, try on, and enjoy the shops bounty. Better yet, plan your introductory shopping trip for Thursday, December 8, 2011 from 5pm to 9pm. Cadeaux is hosting a ‘Christmas Shopping Spectacular’ and donating 10% of the evening’s proceeds to the Music Program of New Westminster Secondary School. The donation will help up-and-coming student musicians with their trip to the national, invitation-only MusicFest Canada festival in Ottawa this spring.

Shopping Cadeaux means supporting our neighborhood’s economy, a New Westminster shop, local artisans and entrepreneurs, and budding talent from our community. On top of that, you walk away with unique, quality gifts and maybe even a few new things to add to your own wish list.

You can find Cadeaux at 467 E. Columbia St. in Sapperton. The store is open Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday from 12-5pm.

Here’s a gallery with some photos of their store.

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.

 

Shopping locally this Christmas is a gift to the Royal City

Presents around a Christmas tree.
Presents around a Christmas tree.

As the Christmas shopping season arrives with Black Friday in the US, I can’t think of anything more ridiculous than camping outside of a store in order to buy stuff. Except for shooting, trampling or pepper-spraying your fellow shoppers in order to get at said stuff, of which there were many reported instances this year.

In reaction to the frenzy, the Vancouver-based magazine Adbusters has created Occupy Christmas. It builds on the magazine’s long-running campaign, Buy Nothing Day, a day of rest from consumerism, as well as Occupy Wall Street, which the magazine also started.

Despite the recent controversial Occupy camps in various cities, including Vancouver, Occupy Christmas isn’t about setting up tents at the mall or harassing shoppers, or even, as the Retail Council of BC alleges in a recent CBC story, putting elves, er, retail workers out of a job. It’s about using your resources to “make the conscious decision to fuel your own local economy” during the holidays, and to “really become a part of the holiday spirit.”

In other words, supporting and giving back to your community while you celebrate what I like to call “Non-denominational gift-giving holiday!” So this year, I’m Occupying Christmas, here in New Westminster.

My holiday round usually starts with making greeting cards, and luckily, the best little paper shop around is Paper Poet (665 Columbia Street). They’ve got stamps, papercraft supplies, envelopes and loads of ideas for projects.

If you’re enthusiastic about crafts, but like me, suck at it, there are plenty of places to support others who are talented at making and growing things. Such as the Royal City Winter Market on December 3 and the River Market Holiday Show on December 10, 11, 17, and 18. The Van Dop Gallery, always amazing, is especially sparkly at Christmas (local jewellery, hint, hint to my honey).

For other gifts and decor, there’s a whole slew of local gift shops like Cadeaux, Red Brick, and Lofty Living. I wouldn’t turn down something vintage from Mid-Century Modern Home either! And for kids, Pedagogy Toys has lots of toys and books that encourage creativity, not battery use.

Presents don’t have to be stuff either – the older I get, the less stuff I want or need, so experiences make great presents. A class at the Circus School is good for all ages, or a wine club membership at Pacific Breeze for the over-19s. Then there are gift certificates for local restaurants or perhaps a ticket to a Christmas concert at the Massey. And if anyone wants to get me a ReUp BBQ Founders Crew membership to help crowdsource the funding for a New West location, the moaning you hear will be of pure bacon-filled happiness.

Which reminds me of another important part of Occupy Christmas – giving back locally and generously. From donating non-perishables to the local food bank at the Hyack Christmas Parade on December 19 to sponsoring a family in need to making a Christmas gift bag for a homeless person, there are many ways to help someone in the community have a brighter Christmas.

For me, Christmas isn’t about a bunch of obligatory presents. (Actually, it’s about 90% about the food!) You can think about what you’re shopping for and where the dollars go, and still enjoy Christmas with those you love. Doesn’t that sound sane? Then it must be crazy.

Christine Rowlands is a writer and editor in New Westminster. Her articles have appeared in alive and Momentum and she regularly writes reviews for Yelp. Her least favourite place in the world is Metrotown in December.