Saturday, November 20, 2010

Donald's Market and River Market Make Local Shopping an Adventure

I'm only in my second month of my shopping in New Westminster adventure and frankly, it was starting to feel like not such an adventure. I was starting to go stir crazy, especially as I watched the Canadian dollar climb in value and saw all the glossy, tempting Christmas flyers starting to arrive in the paper. I was getting pretty bummed about not being able to make a quick cross-border shopping trip to Bellingham or even a quick cross-border shopping trip to Burnaby.

Today all that changed. Today I got my local shopping mojo back. Today I went to the grand opening of Donald's Market at the River Market and saw all that potential New Westminster civic and business leaders have been talking since time immemorial realized.

I'm not going to lie. I had my doubts, especially given that the renovations dragged on for so long and at least one of the tenant choices seemed goofy. When I heard the Vancouver Circus School was a tenant I was skeptical.  What the heck is a circus school doing in a market? After attending the grand opening today, I found out what it's doing there: being awesome. After all, which grocery store would you rather go to: normal grocery store with just groceries or grocery store where there's a guy doing a handstand all the way down the escalator and a girl juggling all the way up? I pick the grocery store with the circus school. (In addition to classes, they are also going to offer birthday party packages.)

I actually got a little teary-eyed on the drive home, thinking to myself that this marvellous place is in New Westminster. I went to San Francisco for the first time in August and visited the Ferry Building Marketplace. The River Market reminds me of that market, but I won't have to take a plane to get to it. It's right here where I live, in my city. And I think the River Market actually has a warmer, more organic atmosphere than the Ferry Building Marketplace. Maybe that's because the River Market is not quite finished yet. I found something rather charming about the work-in-progress feeling of the place.

I was pleased to read in the Record that the Market's management is being very careful and choosy about its tenants. I used to visit the Quay fairly often and always got a, "Close, but not quite," feeling about it. There were some bright spots among the tenants, but overall, the place didn't have a bustling, happening atmosphere. I think that's why I was getting a bit bummed about my local shopping: there are bright spots, but overall, New Westminster felt, "Close, but not quite."

Seeing the River Market confirmed to me again, all New Westminster needs to do is build on what we already have, to build a critical mass of exciting shopping options. Seeing the River Market confirmed to me that it can happen here and it is happening here. Local shopping is an adventure again.


  1. Sheila, love the Blog, and love the idea!

    Can't wait to see how you get through the consumer adventure that is 21st Century Christmas.

    Maybe in the New Year we (the New West Environmental Partners) can have you give a presentation at Green Drinks, or at one of our meetings?

  2. Hi, thanks! Yes, I would love to do that.