Sapperton revitalization more fragile than it seems

Poor Sapperton. In the past few years, the area seemed to be improving. There was the start of a kids' district in New West, with Pedagogy Toys, Kids Kloset and Dimpleskins, a few neat boutiques (Opulence & Cadeaux), a few good bakeries (Bella Cakes & Farm Cottage, which relocated from the Quay), and of course the new Starbucks (hey, I like my lattes). Now it's looking like Sapperton's apparent revitalization was more fragile than it seemed.

Poor Sapperton.

Around 2005/2006 I remember visiting Will before we were married at his old Cedar St. apartment. Sapperton then seemed pretty run-down and rough around the edges. When we bought our first condo together in New West a few years later, I refused to consider even looking in that part of New West.

But in the past couple of years, the area seemed to be improving. There was the start of a kids’ district in New West, with Pedagogy Toys, Kids Kloset and Dimpleskins, a few neat boutiques (Opulence & Cadeaux), a few good bakeries (Bella Cakes & Farm Cottage, which relocated from the Quay), and of course the new Starbucks (hey, I like my lattes). Now it’s looking like Sapperton’s revitalization was more fragile than it seemed.

The City of New West is doing streetscape improvements in the area. You’d think this would be a good thing. But when four months’ worth of construction turned into 10 months, customers just stopped coming. And now it looks like East Columbia is in crisis.

Kids Kloset relocated Uptown. Pedagogy Toys has said this may be their last Christmas season, unless sales are unexpectedly strong. And now Bella Cakes says it may not be able to last much longer either.

On the bright side, I hear that newly opened Graze Market & Deli is amazing. Holland Shopping Centre seems to be doing pretty well since moving from 8th Ave. in Glenbrook to Columbia. And (a mixed success) Karmavore is doing so well that they are relocating to a much larger location … only it’s in Downtown New West!

Sapperton’s boutiques haven’t been shuttered yet. Fie on the roadwork! I’m going to make a point of doing at least one pre-Christmas shopping trip in Sapperton this year and I hope you do the same.

Have I missed any great Sapperton shops or restaurants that could use some link lovin’ (and customers!)?

Briana Tomkinson

Briana Tomkinson is a Montreal-based writer and original founder of Tenth to the Fraser. She really likes to write letters by hand.

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18 comments

  1. Farm Cottage Bakery moved to E. Columbia in Sapperton from the Quay when the Market closed and seems to be doing really well. And Gino's of course, is a long-time restaurant on E. Columbia now improved and upgraded – always full and busy.

  2. Wait…seriously? Farm Cottage Bakery still exists? Thank heavens! I've been a long-time resident of New Westminster (though am now temporarily residing in France), and some of my fondest Saturday-morning-brunch memories are from this bakery. So East Columbia, you say?

    1. Yes! Farm Cottage is now close to the Starbucks on East Columbia in Sapperton (across the street from Pedagogy Toys).

  3. Bella Cakes is the best – Fabio is an amazing baker. I love going there for my sweet treats when I go up to Sapperton to stock up on toys and treats for my dog at the great little pet store a couple doors down.

    I'm sorry to hear the businesses are struggling as a result of all the construction – we noticed a few blips when trying to find parking but usually could get a spot. I'd often bike up there too, when construction didn't block off the bike lane…

  4. Noo-oo-ooo-oo, not Bella!!! I'm putting cake buying on my list for next week.
    I believe most of the road work is done now, at least on the part of Columbia where all the stores are.
    And bonus: right now, it's free parking all along East Columbia, though it looks like maybe meters will be added back in at some point.
    I'll put in a plug for Hawkes Martial Arts, where I do kick boxing. It's across from Cadeaux. Adult kick boxing on Wednesday and Friday morning, 9:30 to 10:15 a.m., and on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Very reasonable. Lots of kids' classes too.
    I've never been, but I've heard good things about the pedicures at Sandy's. http://sandy-esthetics.ca/index.html

  5. We've also lost a great gelato place that we used to have with Temptations Gelato.
    We do still have New Westminster's, and one of the Lower Mainland's, best bike shops in Caps. We also have a great Thai restaurant in Go Thai.
    I also like the Sapperton Place Cafe for lazy weekend breakfasts with the family. It's particularly valuable as we undergo our home renovation and cooking space and ability is limited.

  6. I went into the Sapperton Place Cafe for brunch the other day and had to leave due to the grease odour – I'm sorry, but lazy weekend breakfasts? I couldn't bear to stay for one minute. 🙁

    There is a great pet supply store called Hungry Hound (used to be called Prefurred Pet Supply – http://www.prefurredpetsupply.com/store/) at #102 – 455 East Columbia.

    1. Hey Brigitte,
      Sorry to hear about your grease odour. We're usually there early so I guess the grease odour hasn't built up yet. One can only stretch a "lazy weekend breakfast" so far with a young child. 🙂

  7. Poor Sapperton…only 10 months. 12th Street was stretched out to 3 years of cayuse, however, was a much larger project. . 88 businesses suffered while the city, due to budget restraints, phased the project in. Would love to have seen the same restraints applied to the city's recent Salary increases.
    Imagine having to wait three years to join the $100,000 Plus club.

    Simon and Jenny from Young's on 12th have moved to Sapperton, now called Oscars and lot's of parking across from Gino's.

  8. I'll add a plug for Global Rugs ( http://www.globalrugs.ca ).

    Very good quality and selection at decent prices. I've wandered in on more than one occasion and found myself walking out with a rug I probably really didn't need, under my arm.

    I'm an enthusiastic supporter of my local economy, but I thought Bella Cakes was a much better place under the previous owners, when…you know, it actually functioned more as a bakery rather than a cake store. It was open most days of the week too, and much more economical.

    1. I wasn't impressed with Bella cakes that much either. Their bread was meh at best and their employee was best described as bored. I asked about cakes and was handed a price sheet and told to order online. Their decor is lovely.

  9. In my estimation the City's Manager of Economic Development would be the perfect staff person to offer assistance to the Sapperton merchants after the impact of the street improvements.

  10. Any kind of construction on a major street will cause disruptions you only need to remember Cambie and 12th Street as examples. Sapperton Festival was certainly messy given the construction going on and I was surprised that no one got hurt. What I find incredulous is Mayor Wayne Wright in the same article comparing his experience at the Quay with Sapperton – come on is he for real!
    Then he goes on to say he and council are sensitive to their concerns! Where the heck was the financial consideration and help before they started construction. Did city hall learn nothing from the 12th Street revitalization. Once again looking for solutions after the fact. Kinda like stepping in it then looking for a place to wash it off!

  11. Another Sapperton biz worth visiting if you have kids in need of shaking their money maker: Kids in Motion. Natasha does an awesome job and has almost as much energy as the little buggers (er – darlings).

  12. Neil,
    Do you not know our Economic Dev manager has not offerred a single thing that has brought economic development to New West. With hope, we look forward to the recently appointed advisory committee to take up the slack. The BIA has taken it upon themselves to encourage business downtown. Sad!
    It's a shame someone can hold a position for so long without producing and continue to receive a pay cheque and expensive benefits.
    Like they say! once hired by New West you are in for life…. no questions asked.

    1. I disagree about the in for life no questions asked, it changes big time. huge turnover. the only a few lifers, the rest move when the elections come round. youll see

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