March 13, 2018
In the last Changes On The Drive, I reported that the building at 1301 Commercial, which most of us these days know as the Wonderbucks Building, is now for sale. I’ve written a brief history of the building for the Grandview Heritage Group which you may find of interest.
January 9, 2018
As many of you will know, Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon operates the Licorice Parlour at 1002 Commercial Drive. The following is quoted from Watermelon’s recent post on Facebook:
“Dear Fellow Commercial Drivers: Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour got broken into last night by a seriously professional thief. He has now hit up at least 4 businesses that I know of just in our block alone . Sometime between 1 and 2 AM. He is packing all sorts of tools in his back pack for any type of lock. Caucasian male, approx 5 foot 8. He was wearing a lighter colour hooded rain coat with a hat as well and of course his back pack. He has a really long nose and pale complexion.
Please be on the look out. Also please tell all your friends and neighbours who work or live in the area. Together we are stronger.
I only found out about all the other robberies after mine got broken into. He tried breaking the front lock too said the lock smith tonight, which would explain why our door has been a bit off the hinges for two weeks. Which means he tried to get in a week before Christmas, then kept coming back. Last night he sawed off some of the metal lip on the back door and must have picked the other locks or used magnets to get in. It is a mystery. A few nights ago he smashed the window on a store two doors down and when no cops came he went in and robbed the joint with the alarm going. Across the street he got through two security doors and tripped up the alarm somehow. This guy is bold. We all have him on camera.
Tomorrow I will campaign all business to put up signage and fortify themselves. It is already a disgrace how hard small business need to work to survive in this city. The cost of a break-in could make or break any one of us.”
It is an unfortunate reality that these bad things happen even our wonderful neighbourhood. If you know anything about this or recognise the guy, please contact the store or the police.
January 9, 2018
A couple of weeks ago, the People’s Coop Book Store at 1391 Commercial issued a notice stating that they would be going out of business at the end of this month. Founded in 1945, the bookstore moved to Commercial Drive in 1983 and has been an important part of the Drive’s cultural heritage for thirty-five years. To see it close would be a terrible shame. Last night the Coop held a Special General Meeting to discuss the situation.
The Coop now has more than 800 members and had perhaps its busiest Christmas season ever last month. However, like many small businesses, the Coop has always been short of capital. In the Coop’s case, this has meant a smaller than required operating line of credit leading to problems with ordering books from publishers. And, of course, without new books, a bookstore has less and less to offer. Recently, the finances have been bought to a crisis position due to some unexpected but unavoidable expenses and this has created a shortage of funds with which to pay the rent, leading to the decision to close.
At the meeting last night there was a definite desire from the members attending to see the store keep operating and enough money was raised at the meeting to pay the rent and operating expenses for February. A few new Board members were added (including me) and we will work hard to set in place a more secure financing plan for the future.
This has always been a co-operative venture rather than a for profit corporation and I hope some of the members who have a little spare cash can come forward with donations to see the Bookstore through this difficult period. If you can assist financially, please contact the store and we’ll make the necessary arrangements.
November 24, 2017
I was working on the computer last night when, quite suddenly, my second monitor — on which I was watching the Ashes — simply blacked out. I assumed it was a connection issue but quickly noticed that all the display attributes on my main monitor had become wonky — none of the web sites I was visiting or the documents I was working on looked the way they should.
Like any experienced computer user I knew exactly what to do: I turned off the computer for a reboot. Sadly, my computer decided it did not want to boot up again
Luckily, just two blocks away from the apartment, sits VCV Computers on Commercial Drive. The proprietor, James, has run the store for many years and has kept us on-line several times in the past. I took my damaged baby to see him at 10 this morning, and by 6 this evening for a very reasonable fee I had it back, almost as good as new. Excellent service and good rates, as always; hard to recommend them highly enough.
October 26, 2017
The Choices grocery store on Commercial Drive — over-hyped, over-expensive, the creator of a vast wasteland for much of its block, and a threat to genuinely local stores such as the Food Co-op — is having its Grand Opening on Saturday between 5:30pm and 7:30pm.
Seems odd given the length of time they have already been open.
August 1, 2017
Savo Jeremic, the founder with his wife Ivanka of J,N,Z Meats on Commercial, died peacefully on July 20th at the age of 70 years. Their butchers shop has been a fixture on the Drive since 1988 and they recently took over completely refurbished quarters.
Savo was a great chess player and an avid fisherman, as well as a master butcher.
Back in 2000, Ivanka was asked why they opened a store on Commercial Drive: “Everything we do is special. Dry smoked, old fashioned. Like they do in Europe. We used to have a beautiful store in West Vancouver, but everyone there is on a diet. Here there are working people who have to eat.”
If all they sold were black puddings and Jaffa cakes, I’d still be a regular.
July 10, 2017
As readers of this site will be aware, I have been exercised lately about the number of vacancies on the Drive and, more particularly, the length of time some of these vacancies continue. At the beginning of this month, we had three stores that have been vacant for more than a year, two for more than two years, and one for more than three years. There seems to be no activity on any of these long-term empty stores.
I mentioned this issue to the local BIA and their response was that this was a “global phenomenon” and so, I suppose, out of their hands.
During Car Free Day on Sunday I chatted with the owner of a small storefront in the heart of the Drive that has been empty for nine months. He told me they haven’t had any luck finding a suitable tenant: “And we are only asking $4,500 a month — the going rate.”
There was it seems to me, no thought on what might actually be needed to attract a tenant, maintain the space, pay taxes and mortgages — just that $4,500 was “the going rate.” There was also no appreciation that $4,500 is proving to be the going rate for keeping the store empty and revenue-less.
I’m no economist but none of this makes any sense to me.