Archive for the ‘Shopping’ Category

Canada Line Construction Cambie St

Canada Line Construction Cambie St, originally uploaded by Stephen Rees.

I have been avoiding Cambie Street for a while now. But since I was at the CBC this morning, and I was in no rush, I thought I would see how they are getting on. The short answer is, they are not finished yet. Not by a long chalk. But the traffic is back – I think because people like Jane Bird have been talking up how much progress they are making.

If, like me, you just want to have a gander, you probably won’t mind too much. I had plenty of time to get my camera out, wind down the window, and try for a shot of the first Save on Foods in the City. And no one was held up while I did it as we weren’t moving anyway. The single file traffic starts on Cambie Bridge and goes all the way up to 16th with no left turns. And the road surface also acts as a traffic calming device – better than pavé and speed humps.

This development looks like a welcome change from the single floor retail that has been the norm on major streets in this city for far too long. Not only Save On, but Home Depot and Winners too – with a lot of small stores on the road frontage to let – and residential on the top. So chalk up another victory for dense mixed use. Though I have my doubts about how many car trips will be drawn to this corner once it opens up. The store is open. The street not so much.

Winter Farmers Market at Wise Hall

Winter Farmers Market until April

I had to see for myself what kinds of items were available at the Winters Farmers Market today. I was happy to support our local farmers by picking up some Russian Blue Potatoes, a big bag of carrots, apples, honey and some free trade coffee. I have plans to make some whipped blue potatoes for Easter dinner tomorrow.

The farmers market will be open a few more times at the Wise Hall at Adanac between now and the end of April. There are more details about the dates on this newsletter at the eatlocal website.

Have a good long weekend…

Places without cars

Zhongyang Pedestrian Street - Harbin

Turning Robson Street into a Pedestrian Mall was listed as No 5 of the things we could do. I think No 1 would be where I would put it.

Streets and squares have been pedestrianised all over the world. The image I chose for this piece happens to be Harbin in China. But there are many others I could have chosen – Monmouth (Wales), Lima (Peru), Las Ramblas in Barcelona Spain, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod – I could go on for pages like this but you get the idea.

But for some reason Vancouver doesn’t. We seem to be highly reluctant to close streets to traffic. Vancouver only had part of Granville St as a bus only mall, and I am pleased that when Canada Line construction finishes, it will be again. Wider sidewalks, and a straighter alignment for the buses, but also places for permitted vehicles to park out of the way. So it may work a bit better.

But I still do not see it as the equal of any of the huge variety of pedestrian streets around the world. I have started a flickr group just to collect images of such places. This was partly inspired by Jan Gehl’s recent lecture in Richmond. He is the Copenhagen based architect who early on in his career decided that it was the spaces between the buildings that made the difference between wanting to be there or to get through it as quickly as possible. I cannot imagine a better plan than one that reduced the amount of space in Richmond devoted to cars.

Many places use pedestrian streets to help established retailers compete against modern shopping malls. Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t have pedestrian streets is that developers and retailers here have been more successful in protecting their shopping centres. There is no doubt in my mind that for a long time Pacific Centre was winning their battle with Granville Street. But a good pedestrian street is about much more than shopping. It is about having a good reason to stop and look around. To enjoy the place and the people there. The place becomes a destination, not just a thoroughfare. And somewhere to sit and people watch turns out to be the common denominator of all the really good places without cars.

As as others have noted there are other places we have where removing cars would be a huge improvement: Granville Island for starters. CMHC may even put in an extension to the heritage streetcar to serve it.

The most Vancouver of toothbrushes

Is there a more left coast product than a toothbrush with a body made from recycled wood fiber?  If you’ve got a better example leave a link to a picture of it in our comments.

They Forgot Kwanzaa

The Bay Celebrates Winter Holidays

Seen at the Bay in Metrotown.

Apple Store @ Pacific Centre: the hiring has begun

Pacific Centre

Originally uploaded by SqueakyMarmot.

If you’ve been waiting by the phone, or the email, for a reply about your job application you submitted to the Apple Store opening in Pacific Centre that you sent in after reading about the imminent opening here [mbv], then keep your fingers crossed because the first wave of people are being contacted via email for telephone interviews.

Sadly that first wave, at least I hope it’s just the first wave, does not include me. Apparently I’m completely unemployable. You lucky sods who did get a call back can feel free to comment about the experience in the comments. For this one time feel free to use fake names or no names at all, we can let it slide in exchange for some juicy inside gossip.

Heck maybe we can get Apple to sue us like Think Secret and I won’t need a job, I’ll just take my out of court settlement and buy myself an island.

Edit: I’d like to point out for those of you who seem to believe I’m some sort of billionaire who mines gold doubloons off the posts of the bloggers here, that since I don’t actually own Metroblogging Vancouver I wouldn’t be the one getting any out of court settlement.

The Great Cell Phone Caper

Greatmuppetcaperbv01Yesterday I had a phone stolen from me at work.  During the holidays theft goes up quite a bit and we’re constantly being reminded that each and every customer is a possible master thief waiting to pounce.  That’s sort of overstating it, but yesterday I was tricked by a sticky fingered slight of hand artist.  Either that or I’m just thick.

The short of the long of it is that the customer’s debit card would not swipe and when he went to go to a nearby cash machine he palmed the phone without me noticing and took off.  Seeing the video it was clear that a) I need to lose weight and b) he was planning on taking the phone when he walked in.  The odd thing was his identification he used for the credit check seemed real, and so if anyone knows an Aldwin Plan either he’s got one of my store’s phones and is a dirty thief, or someone has swiped his driver’s licence and BC ID card and is stealing phones under his name.

Vancouver’s Apple Store confirmed for Pacific Centre

Regent House Apple Store

Originally uploaded by Jeffery Simpson.

I’ve been on the job hunt for a long time [jks] with no luck whatsoever. I keep checking every jobs site there is, and send my resume off like it’s a letter to a forgetful Santa, but alas there’s no reply. Tonight though I’ll be submitting my resume all night long as I try to score myself an interview at the newly confirmed Apple Store at Pacific Centre.

As an Apple Store stalker, meaning I stalk Apple Stores not stock them, I’ve been in a few. Any city I go to that has one I’m required to browse their rows of iPod cases (because you can never have too many iPod cases), drool on the shiny new iMacs and lust after a job working for the only brand I’ve managed to stay loyal to. (My brief affair with Nike and its Air Jordan’s only lasted three years).

I might be making the most foolish mistake of all time by telling the readers about this, because you know the more people who apply the less chance I have, but my damn journalistic integrity compels me to point out that there are jobs posted for the store right now on the Canadian Apple site [ac]. Meanwhile the Unofficial Apple Weblog [tuaw] is still reporting this as a rumour, but since they’re actively hiring I’d say it’s confirmed.

If any of you are Steve Jobs, or Fake Steve Jobs even, give me a call. I’ll disco for nickels. And if any of you readers get a job thanks to this link and I don’t, then I want a friends and family discount on an iPod case if you see me in the store.

It’s holiday season, it’s open season on retail clerks

Look up, Way up…

Originally uploaded by Always_be_closing.

It’s November so it seems that everyone is in a rush to get their holiday shopping done. Or it was raining and everyone wanted to get inside. Or there was some sort of sale on at Urban Behaviour, and that explains why they needed a bouncer at the door to control the crowds.

Either way it’s mall season around Vancouver, though honestly it always feels like mall season when you work there. Last year I was clever and transfered out of Metrotown before the fall rolled around, and so I avoided the rush by working on Robson. This year I’m back at Metrotow, where every holiday season it seems like people get in more and more foul moods.

Seriously folks if you’ve never had the joy of working in a mall during Christmas there’s nothing scarier than a holiday shopper after six hours in the mall. The only thing that comes close is when I used to be an usher at a movie theatre and had to tell people they couldn’t bring their own coffee into the theatre and they uniformly reacted as though I told them that we were going to kill their first born and deflower their second.

The literate pay for our strong dollar

And more Comics!!!

Originally uploaded by ELFSAR COMICS.

One of the draw backs of having our dollar pass the American one is that suddenly we’re paying quite a bit more for printed material than they are south of the border. Books, magazines and comic books have always had higher Canadian pricing to compensate for our lower dollar, but now that the equation has reversed we’re still paying the higher cover price. During a recent trip to Bellingham I stopped in at a comic shop and with the dollars at par, was surprised how much I could buy.

I’ve heard this issue covered on CBC radio, specifically focusing on books. For comic books the issue was raised by a listen question on the comicbook podcast iFanboy during an an interview with Marvel Comics’ PR guy Jim McCann [if]. Since Quebecor [wp] is one of the largest printers of comics (and other stuff too) in North America, it’s sort of ironic that we’re getting screwed on pricing.

With no change on the horizon local comic book shop Elfsar is offering most of their new comics and graphic novels at a discount to help compensate for the strong dollar [efb].

What else are we now paying too much for in this Bizzaro world we live in now where white is black, people ride cows and milk horses and the Loonie is stronger than the American dollar?

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