Saturday, October 1, 2011

What New West Needs

My year of shopping only in New Westminster is officially over, so I have to write this post quickly. I have to get to IKEA, Costco and Metrotown as soon as possible. Kidding! I'm sure I'll stray out of New Westminster eventually, but for the moment, I feel no particular compulsion to do so.

I was reading in the Sun today about two creative guys in Vancouver who are polling the community to see what kind of store they should open in a 600-square-foot commercial space one of them owns on Union Street.

The choices are restaurant, service, retail or other. When you vote, you write in what specific type of business you'd like.

One of the things I like about the project is how the project's partners, Michael Leung and Josh Michnik, have linked business to community building. The partners want to start a business they think is viable, but it's inspiring that they also want to start a business the local neighbourhood community needs and will, one hopes, support.

They seem sincere about the project; it goes beyond intensive market research or a gimmicky idea to get publicity. They say they want to hire local residents and support community gardens, park restorations or homeless shelters with a portion of the venture's proceeds.

The idea of community building and retail business might not seem a natural one, but if there's one thing I've learned over the past year, it's that where we choose to spend our money is a powerful decision. It's not, I'm now convinced, just about the buying and selling of goods. Where we spend our money affects the communities, for better or for worse, where we live.

Check out the project's site at:

One of the things I did over the last year was compile a list of stores and services I'd like to see in New Westminster. I think New West needs these kinds of stores/businesses:

  • Outdoors/camping goods
  • Children's indoor play area
  • Cupcakes
  • Kitchen supplies
  • Greater variety of clothing and shoe stores
  • Sporting goods
  • Maternity
  • Department store
  • Bagels (there are already stores in New West that could sell good bagels, but no one seems to)
  • Hardware (yes, there's Griff's in Queensborough and Lowe's is about to open, but I'd like to see a Home Hardware-style store on the mainland)
  • Pop-up Halloween store
  • Tacos, need more tacos!
I had gelato place and garden store on the list too, but there is now a gelato place on Sixth St., with another set to open at River Market and a garden store just opened at River Market.

If there was a This Space type project in New West, what business or service would you suggest? What is New West missing that it needs and that you would actually shop at? What businesses and services would help build community in New West?