Independents Thriving on Granville St-Pt4

This article is part of a series of case studies produced by LOCO for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA). We have been working with the DVBIA since December 2016 to assess the issues with empty retail storefronts on Granville Street, understand the affordability and other issues, and ensure that independent businesses stay part of the retail mix in downtown Vancouver.

The Pawn Shop

“If Granville Street is the party street, let’s make it the best party street.” – Peter Raptis, Owner, The Pawn Shop

Veteran restaurateur Peter Raptis owns The Pawn Shop on Granville Street (and The Wooden Spoon Co., in White Rock). Raptis knows a thing or two about the changing face of Granville Street. He opened in 2004, and expanded upstairs 5 years later by opening the Refinery event space. He renovated Sip Lounge in 2016 and reopened as The Pawn Shop. He made the change to accommodate the area’s more casual dining scene, catering to tech office workers, but also to area residents and late night revellers.  

Opportunities & Challenges

The Pawn Shop and the Refinery each occupy about 2 000 ft2 each in the heart of downtown. Raptis has secured favourable lease terms for many years, however his rates have steadily increased, mostly due to property tax increases that get passed on to him as part of his lease. He’s now paying about 200% more than when he started. There are many leasing opportunities on Granville Street at the moment. Raptis says the landlords of those spaces are key to helping transforming the area: “Landlords need to start seeing the long-term gain – they should invest in their buildings, and stop taking the first business that comes along. Leasing to the next marijuana dispensary or fast food place is keeping Granville Street in a rut.”

A growing challenge doing business on Granville Street is the maintenance of the street. Late night crowds, daytime loitering, and homeless camps create maintenance issues and increase costs for area businesses. Raptis says that unfortunately this is starting to translate into an image problem with Granville – a sense that the area is more dangerous than it is.

Success

Since Granville Street has been zoned as entertainment district by the City of Vancouver, concentrating liquor primary venues and entertainment venues, he wonders why so many things are restricted on the street. Raptis says “if Granville is the party street, then let’s make it the best party street.” Relaxing regulations that stop music at midnight, and maximizing the enjoyment of public space can help. He suggests removing the parking bollards, allowing bigger restaurant patios, and continuing to activate the alleys on Granville Street. He has a few parking spaces in his alley and would like to install a patio to contribute to that.

Raptis has seen many businesses come and go on Granville Street and still sees enormous potential for the street. He’d like to see existing businesses better adapt to the clientele on the street, and have landlords bring in new businesses to help draw new and varied foot traffic – new retailers, tech offices and training schools that complement the existing mix of businesses on the street.

 

Independents Thriving on Granville St-Pt3

This article is part of a series of case studies produced by LOCO for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA). We have been working with the DVBIA since December 2016 to assess the issues with empty retail storefronts on Granville Street, understand the affordability and other issues, and ensure that independent businesses stay part of the retail mix in downtown Vancouver.

SMAK 

“The DVBIA’s research helped convince the leasing agent to choose us over a chain.” – Brendan Ladner, Owner, SMAK Fast Food

Local fast food company SMAK opened its second Vancouver location on Granville Street in August 2016. SMAK serves up healthy fast food to downtown Vancouver’s lunch time office crowds, but are open all day from breakfast until late night (6am to 10pm). SMAK has a well-heeled, health conscious clientele, and feels they are drawing some of the workers in new tech-company offices (Microsoft, ACL) in the area.  

Opportunities & Challenges

Rents are generally much higher north of Robson, and although SMAK secured a great space, owner Brendan Ladner finds the rent high. But since there were “a lineup of businesses behind us hoping to secure the real estate we got on Granville Street”, Ladner says they feel lucky to have secured a location north of Robson. He did it with the help of a local retail strategist providing support in negotiations with leasing agents.

SMAK has been grappling with the same challenges as other businesses on the street – panhandling, homelessness, and the mess created by late night bar crowds. While fitting out their space, they were also challenged by long wait times for permits and a lack of transparency on municipal rules, causing delays and driving up costs.

Ladner thinks the opportunity for breathing new life into Granville Street is to completely redo some of the dead zones and build something completely new. He thinks that opportunity exists right now in some of the multi-level retail spaces available in the 900 block of Granville. He’d love to see some ambitious tenants create an exciting destination in the area, like a big craft brewery. He also thinks that bike lanes and patios right to the curb would help facilitate the changes the neighbourhood needs, bringing new life, new customers and better use of public space to Granville.  

Success

SMAK’s Granville location is experiencing above average sales compared to their Pender Street location. They also feel fortunate to have a locally based landlord who cares about their offering and aesthetic, adding them to a mix of businesses that will continue to build good foot traffic in the area. They are also thankful for the support that the DVBIA has offered to help them grow. Consumer research outlining the wants/needs of downtown consumers provided by the DVBIA helped them sway leasing agents to choose SMAK over a chain restaurant in their negotiations for their new location on Howe Street.

Independents Thriving on Granville Street – Pt2

This article is part of a series of case studies produced by LOCO for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA). We have been working with the DVBIA since December 2016 to assess the issues with empty retail storefronts on Granville Street, understand the affordability and other issues, and ensure that independent businesses stay part of the retail mix in downtown Vancouver.

 Hungry Guys

“The foot traffic on Granville Street is fantastic.”

– Aldo Velaj, Owner, Hungry Guys Kitchen

Aldo Velaj opened Hungry Guys Kitchen in a new building at the busy corner of Granville and Nelson in November 2015. Hungry Guys Kitchen serves “good food fast – burritos, salads and bowls with an easy-going casual vibe” from 11am-10pm every day. 90% of the clientele consists of health conscious young professionals – many are well-dressed lawyers and judges coming for lunch from the courthouse.

Opportunities & Challenges

Hungry Guys occupies 3200 ft2 on the ground floor. Velaj secured favorable terms and is on good terms with his landlord, Fleetwood Investments, whom he says is friendly and responsible. His business is in a relatively new building, built about 5 years ago, that is also occupied by multinationals – Tim Horton’s and 7/11.

Velaj feels that lease rates in Vancouver generally seem high compared with other cities major Canadian cities like Montreal and Toronto. However, there are many storefronts available on Granville Street, and Velaj says that good rates can be found, with the best rates towards Davie Street.

Hungry Guys benefits from the high foot traffic on Granville Street – which he says say is fantastic – however, it doesn’t always translate directly to sales. Velaj thinks the concentration of street issues and homeless in the neighbourhood makes it tougher for businesses in the area. He hopes the City of Vancouver will do more to patrol and “clean” the streets.

Success

With its high profile location, and healthy fresh food, Hungry Guys has managed to launch their business mostly through word of mouth. Now that they are more established, Velaj is building the business with some online marketing and a bit of public relations. He focuses on different promotions every day, and is pleased to report that business is going well and the restaurant is profitable. He thinks that downtown Vancouver has crazy potential – with its beauty, modern infrastructure and design, clean air and  mild weather. Hungry Guys would love to see some new restaurants, coffee shops and bars take advantage of that opportunity and locate on Granville Street. Velaj himself will invest his efforts in the revitalization of the street – watch for a new concept restaurant nearby to his current business coming soon!

Independents Thriving on Granville – Pt1

This article is part of a series of case studies produced by LOCO for the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Area (DVBIA). We have been working with the DVBIA since December 2016 to assess the issues with empty retail storefronts on Granville Street, understand the affordability and other issues, and ensure that independent businesses stay part of the retail mix in downtown Vancouver.

8th & Main

“I always loved Granville Street for its mix of fun and edgy. We easily found a building with the right look and space for our brand. Now it’s our fastest growing location.”

– Scott Hilton, Co-owner, 8th & Main

Local clothing retailer 8th & Main opened its second Vancouver location on Granville Street in 2014. They began with Flavour and Flavour Upstairs (vintage) on Johnson Street in Victoria, expanding to Vancouver with 8th & Main on Main Street, Granville Street and  most recently Yonge Street in Toronto. Co-owner Scott Hilton grew up in B.C.’s interior and used to visit Granville Street when he came to Vancouver. He always liked the entertainment and shopping, and the mix of fun and edginess on the street. Given their success on independent Main Street, locating on Granville seemed a natural extension.  

Opportunities & Challenges

Hilton thinks there are great spaces available for reasonable rates on Granville Street for the right business, and that they can expect to be able to negotiate quite a bit on posted rates. Hilton secured a 10 year lease for the 6000 ft2 space at a great rate, taking over another clothing store that needed few leasehold improvements.

Hilton admits that he has encountered some security issues on Granville Street. The store has hired a security guard to ensure staff safety and loss prevention. Hilton has done the same thing at his Main Street store, but splits the cost with several other neighbourhood businesses. He’d like to share the Granville guard with other businesses on the street.

Success

8th & Main’s Granville Street location was profitable from day one, and is now their fastest growing location. There are a lot of new customers every month and high rises are going up on many of the surrounding blocks – all pointing to a bright future. 8th & Main would like to see other independent restaurants and retailers join them on Granville Street. Hilton thinks that any business who succeeds in other independent neighbourhoods like West 4th, Gastown, South Granville or Commercial would see similar success here. His final thought? “There is an added bonus on downtown Granville of more late night traffic and many tourists, especially in summer. Granville/Davie is becoming a hub with an independent streak, and this is the time to find a good space.”

Keeping Downtown Vancouver Independent

BC Independents Losing Market Share

Late last year, we engaged Civic Economics to update the 2013 study they conducted on the market share held by independent businesses. The latest Statistics Canada data available shows that in the two years since, there has been a continued downward slide in market share for B.C.’s businesses. They are losing market share at a greater rate than the national average, slipping to 33.7% recently, maintaining the third lowest market share in the country. Business improvement areas, governments and others will need to step up efforts to support local businesses, and where possible, ease the financial and bureaucratic burdens on local businesses to keep our local economy thriving.

 

The B.C. Real Estate Crisis

Independent businesses are also challenged by B.C.’s red hot real estate market. As land prices increase the pressure to develop or renovate existing commercial spaces, businesses are having a hard time securing affordable spaces. New retail spaces in mixed use developments are often not designed for smaller businesses, are too costly, or are specifically seeking leases with multinationals that they see as offering greater security. The loss is to our local economy, with the associated jobs and suppliers that will suffer, but also to our communities – risking that our streets will look like every street every where – with the same formulaic chain stores.

Granville Street in Transition

Granville Street is in transition, and Southern Granville has a number of vacancies. Rather than leave the neighbourhood to the whims of the market, and the potential to populate the Street with multinational chains,The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA)  is leading the charge to encourage independent businesses to see the opportunity that the neighbourhood presents. LOCO has been working with the DVBIA to assess any challenges to independent businesses locating on Granville, to catalogue available leases, identify opportunities to support local businesses and encourage more to locate to the area.

If you or someone you know is looking for a leasing opportunity, get in touch. Look for the results of our research in April 2017.

 

BC Buy Local Week 2016

Local businesses need to regain market share as 5th annual Buy Local Week launches in BC

(November 28, 2016 – Vancouver, BC) The fifth annual Buy Local Week in BC kicked off today, celebrating local businesses and the big impact buying locally has on communities across the province. Organizers warn that independent businesses need to regain market share against international chains to stay viable and keep local economies growing in BC.   

“Local independent businesses need support to help them regain a greater share of local spending, and BC Buy Local Week is a great opportunity to reinforce the importance of shopping at locally owned stores, and buying local made and locally grown goods” says Amy Robinson, founder and executive director of LOCO BC, which coordinates Buy Local Week in the province.

BC Buy Local Week 2016 runs from November 28 to December 4 and has been proclaimed by the Province of BC and many cities and regions around the province. Participating communities include the City of Vancouver and the Hastings Crossing, East Village and West Point Grey business districts, the City of Victoria, the City of Richmond, the City of Surrey, the City of North Vancouver, the Municipality of Squamish and the Township of Langley.

“Our research shows that BC businesses have been losing market share at a greater rate than the national average, slipping to 33.7% recently. In fact, independent businesses in BC have the third lowest market share in the country,” adds Robinson. “This means that governments need to step up efforts to ease burdens, financial and bureaucratic, on local businesses, and consumers need to shift spending where they can to local businesses to keep our local economy thriving.”

LOCO BC encourages shoppers to support independent businesses by purchasing from local producers and businesses during BC Buy Local Week and throughout the year. For every dollar people spend with local businesses, that money recirculates in their community and creates $2.60 of economic impact for their region. Consumers are being encouraged to shift some of their holiday spending to locally owned businesses, and to look for local grown and locally made products wherever they shop.

“Most consumers in Canada spend about $1,500 on food, alcohol, gifts and travel during the holiday season. If they shift 1% of their spending – just $15 – to local business, their money will multiply locally to create more jobs and stronger communities,” adds Robinson. “BC Buy Local Week is a great opportunity to show your support for BC business owners and help spread the message that shopping local has tremendous impact on your community.”

Throughout the year, participating local BC businesses will be promoting their local owned businesses, local grown and local made products with bright pink stickers to make them easy for consumers to identify, and using the hashtag #BCBuyLocal on social media. Consumers are invited to participate by sharing photos of their local shopping and the pink stickers on social media for a chance to win prizes, and by looking to bcbuylocal.com as a resource for BC products and businesses.

In efforts to entice more independent businesses, LOCO BC will be working in partnership with the Downtown Vancouver BIA (DVBIA) this coming year to assess the barriers and burdens to small businesses operating downtown.

“We’re excited to launch new research with LOCO BC to understand the challenges of independent businesses and encourage them to locate downtown,” says Charles Gautier, President & CEO of the DVBIA. “We’ve worked with some independents recently to help them locate along Granville Street and would like to see more successes.”

LOCO BC will also be collecting information on the potential to reduce municipal red tape and improve business friendliness for small business in several municipalities by engaging municipalities to play a bigger role in supporting the success of independent businesses to ensure affordable leasing opportunities are maintained.

For more information about BC Buy Local, along with resources to help consumers find local businesses and products, visit www.bcbuylocal.com.  

About LOCO BC

LOCO BC is a non-profit local business alliance in British Columbia working to strengthen communities, grow the local economy, and build strong, sustainable businesses. LOCO BC coordinates Buy Local Week, an annual celebration of local business to promote the contributions that BC businesses make to our economy and our communities. The goal of the BC Buy Local Campaign is to illuminate the local market, making BC-based businesses, products, food and wines more visible to consumers.

Media contact:
Carla Shore
C-Shore Communications Inc.
P: 604-329-0975
carla@cshore.ca

5th Annual Buy Local Week Kicks Off November 28th

The fifth annual Buy Local Week in BC kicks off Monday, November 28th.

BC Buy Local Week 2016 runs from November 28 to December 4 and has been proclaimed by the Province of BC and many cities and regions around the province. Participating communities include the City of Vancouver and the Hastings Crossing, East Village and West Point Grey business districts, the City of Victoria, the City of Richmond, the City of Surrey, the City of North Vancouver, the Municipality of Squamish and the Township of Langley.

“Our research shows that BC businesses have been losing market share at a greater rate than the national average, slipping to 33.7% recently. In fact, independent businesses in BC have the third lowest market share in the country,” adds Robinson. “This means that governments need to step up efforts to ease burdens, financial and bureaucratic, on local businesses, and consumers need to shift spending where they can to local businesses to keep our local economy thriving.”

LOCO BC encourages shoppers to support independent businesses by purchasing from local producers and businesses during BC Buy Local Week and throughout the year. For every dollar people spend with local businesses, that money recirculates in their community and creates $2.60 of economic impact for their region. Consumers are being encouraged to shift some of their holiday spending to locally owned businesses, and to look for local grown and locally made products wherever they shop.

Media contact:
Carla Shore
C-Shore Communications Inc.
P: 604-329-0975
carla@cshore.ca

LOCO Businesses are Hiring this summer!

HiVE is hiring a Director of Social Impact

HiVE is Hiring! Are you a serial do-gooder with experience working with nonprofits? Passionate about growing and supporting the social impact ecosystem in Vancouver? Our community hub is looking for a Director of Social Impact and applications are due on June 26th, 2016 at 11:59 PST. View the job posting here.

 

SPUD is hiring a Senior Director of Purchasing & Product Procurement

Would you like to be a part of a growing and dedicated team who work to provide sustainable solutions in our own communities? SPUD.ca is looking for a Senior Director of Purchasing & Product Procurement reporting to the CEO. They will be the creative and resourceful talent responsible for the promotion of our unique and amazing products on the site, continue sourcing new and exciting products, while negotiating the best possible prices to offer to our valued customers.  View the job posting here. See all job openings at SPUD.

 

Salt Spring Coffee is hiring a Quality Assurance Coordinator

SALT SPRING COFFEE grew out of a passion for an exceptional cup of coffee. We began roasting coffee in the spring of 1996, building around strong values and environmentally responsible business ethics and practices. We are looking for someone who will work under the general supervision of the COO, to plan, coordinate, and implement quality assurance programs at the plant level and ensure continuous production of products consistent with established standards. View the job posting here. See all job openings at Salt Spring Coffee.

 

Foodee is hiring a Director of Business Development

Foodee is changing the way corporate offices eat. We believe that everyone should have access to the best eateries in their city without any hassles. We’re looking for a talented and dynamic DIRECTOR OR VP BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT who is a self-starter and self-described hustler! This position will have access to all aspects of building and running a high-growth company! It will report directly to the CEO with the involvement of his impressive team of advisors and will work closely with the Head of Finance. You will develop partnerships that drive revenues by identifying, developing, negotiating, and cultivating business relationships with strategic partners and their end users. View the job posting here.

 

RTown is hiring talented Digital Media representatives

RTOWN is  seeking a sharp, experienced sales person with a proven track record of success to be the next Digital Media Sales Representative to join our growing sales team. This is a proven outside sales role with proven products. You will be acquiring & managing local clients – preferably in the neighbourhood or town that you live in. As a Digital Media Sales Representative, you will be responsible for listening, assessing and making service & solution recommendations that are aligned with success for all parties. View the job posting here.

 

Vital Body is hiring a Receptionist

Are you someone who values a great work environment, takes pride in great customer service, is happy and thriving in their life? This role entails providing outstanding client care at a thriving weight loss clinic. As the first person people meet at Vital Body, you are a key player in the customer experience and growth of the company. Our ideal candidate is looking for a full time position, enjoys change and growth in a small business environment, has a great personality that others easily connect with and has a passion for helping people. Our candidate has a love of life and enjoys a healthy lifestyle. View the job posting here.

 

The Ketchup Wars, Local Sourcing & Your Business

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Loblaw’s recent decision to stop selling French’s ketchup, due to poor sales performance, led to a firestorm of consumer outrage. The company reversed its decision days later in the face of mounting pressure that included consumer calls to boycott Loblaw stores. A&W then rode the wave of media attention, making public commitments to purchase French’s ketchup for its 850 locations across Canada.

What’s up with all the ketchup patriotism?

It comes from a 2014 decision by French’s to position its ketchup, which sourced tomatoes from Leamington, ON, as the “local” alternative. The move was a direct challenge to H.J. Heinz Co., which processed tomato products there for more than a century until it closed their plant in 2013. The closure put nearly 1000 people out of work, and affected nearly 50 tomato farmers, as 40 percent of all Ontario-grown field tomatoes were used by the Heinz factory.

French’s move into the void, purchasing Leamington tomato paste from a new co-packing factory employing 400+ people, created tremendous loyalty – despite the fact their Canada-bound ketchup is ultimately produced and packaged in Ohio.

The French’s story shows the complexity of this seemingly simple question: What’s a local product? It also shows the tremendous consumer passion behind it.

Consumers today more than ever want local

When a simple decision like Loblaw’s draws attention to the underlying issues, such as the jobs created by local products, this preference stands out even more. LOCO BC surveyed hundreds of Canadian consumers in 2015 and found that nearly 70 percent of consumers valued Canadian ownership as “most Important” or “important” when shopping. Over 50 percent were actively seeking Canadian-made products, and the same percent preferred to buy from companies in their province or city.

But how do you identify local products? Supply chains have become increasingly complicated and difficult to trace. As a result, there are various shades of local. At LOCO we categorize them by:

  • Ownership of the business (is it private and 50+% local owned?)
  • Location of production (is a product 50+% local made?), and
  • Where ingredients are sourced (are they 50+% local grown?)

The greatest economic impact comes when locally- grown ingredients are sourced for locally-made products, and sold by locally-owned businesses. That’s rarely the case. For French’s ketchup, locally-grown ingredients were partially locally-made, since they were processed elsewhere for a non-local company. Those locally-grown ingredients were the livelihood of the town, and Canadian consumers showed that they wanted to support that. However, the issue also called attention to the fact that the company was not locally owned, nor is the product fully locally-made. Not surprisingly, many have called for better product labeling.

Going Local is Good for Business

LOCO BC is working to help with that, by defining local for consumers and businesses based on economic impact. Further, we have been developing a Local Impact Assessment to measure and communicate the impact a business has on the local economy. Local sourcing is a large focus of our assessment.

Resource companies like Tech and Neptune Terminals have long had local purchasing practices, which contributes to their social license to operate in the communities where they operate. However, other companies are looking at local sourcing as a means to a more diversified and stable supplier base, to reduce greenhouse gases and to foster small and mid-sized businesses and grow the local economy.

We’re now working with the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) and progressive Vancouver companies, through online testing, to further development our measurement tool and look forward to supporting interested companies in “going local.” Interested businesses can contact us to be part of the development.

LOCO Businesses are hiring this spring

Earnest Ice Cream is hiring a Production Manager

This is an opportunity to join the core leadership team of Earnest Ice Cream, a young and growing values-led business that prioritizes creativity and innovation, while making Vancouver’s best ice cream. The Production Manager mentors and leads the production teams, while collaborating on new flavour development and contributing to the EIC community. Find out more

 

Fairware is hiring an Account Manager

At Fairware, we believe we can change the world through the simple act of buying. We provide promotional merchandise to North America’s leading sustainable brands. The Account Manager will be responsible for developing and managing new and existing business in the US and Canada. You’ll work with the Fairware team to ensure the highest level of customer service is achieved. Working full time from our Vancouver offices, you’ll provide stellar account management with existing accounts while growing your sales book with new business. You’ll help your clients get great merchandise that animates their brand and showcases their values. Find out more

 

The Sharing Farm seeks Volunteer Treasurer

The Sharing Farm grows food to feed Richmond families in need. The Farm is run by community members for community members, and is dedicated to providing fresh, healthy, local produce to our less fortunate neighbours. The Sharing Farm operates on a tiny budget, but thanks to the generosity of our over 1,000 yearly volunteers and the devotion of a small core of part-time staff, the Farm is able to provide thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables every year to community meals throughout the city and the Richmond Food Bank. The Treasurer is the Society Board member acting as steward of all funds of the Society in concert with the Society bookkeeper and Executive Director. As such he keeps the Board of Directors informed of all matters pertaining to the finances of the Society. Contact The Sharing Farm to find out more.