The Chinatown Experiment, 434 Columbia St., Vancouver
Vancouverites are so in love with pop-up shops that one local entrepreneur, Devon MacKenzie, has opened a space - on up-and-coming 400 Columbia block - that offers short-term rents from a day to several months. Since opening in September 2012, The Chinatown Experiment has hosted all sorts of cutting-edge pop-ups; from an atmospheric Twin Peaks-inspired diner serving coffee and pie to a pasta sauce shop cum restaurant, as well as various fashion ventures covering vintage and brand new clothing lines.
Beaucoup Bakery and Cafe, 2140 Fir St., Vancouver
For two years ex-graphic designer Jackie Ellis sold her delicious desserts at Vancouver farmers’ markets as a way to fund her baking hobby. She then took time to travel and attend pastry school in France, before arriving back in Vancouver and starting to sell again at Shangri-la’s Farmers’ Market. Her caramel éclairs with black Hawaiian salt and valrhona brownies with crystallized violet sold like (cold) hot cakes. Ellis has found a permanent home on Fir Street where she opened Beaucoup Bakery and Café just before Christmas 2012.
Pop-culture goes pop-up at Hot Art Wet City; the gallery opened in September 2012 and features ever-changing shows influenced by fan art and inspired by everything from iconic movies to pop songs. HAWC began as an extension of the button making and sharing event Hot One Inch Action and started life as a video project that comprised of weekly interviews with local artists. Now the pop-up gallery opens on weekends - look out for special launch parties for the regularly rotating shows. HAWC pop up will be closing at the end of February and reopening in a permanent location in the spring.
Courtesy Cartems Donuterie
Cartems Donuterie, 408 Carrall St., Vancouver
Some shops pop-up and never go back down again. Cartems Donuterie opened as a pop-up in February 2012 while the team sourced a permanent retail spot, but it’s still going strong in its rather unlikely location on the edge of Gastown. Founder Jordan Cash dreamed up the concept of inventive fresh donuts in eclectic flavours such as spicy Mexican mole, chocolate triple threat and the earl grey (sprinkled with rose petals). The donuts are currently cooked at their kitchen, using local and organic ingredients, in the communal Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary on Commercial Drive.
Pig & Mortar, 1529 West 6th Ave., Vancouver
Pig on the Street’s bright pink VW camper can be found squealing around downtown Vancouver, serving up hearty British-inspired bacon wraps. In December 2012, the duo behind the popular food truck - British couple Krissy Seymour and Mark Cothey - parked up for the winter in a cozy pub-style restaurant called Pig & Mortar, serving craft beer on tap and English pub snacks like scotch eggs, sausage rolls and ploughman’s platters (cheese/meat, bread, pickles).
Vintage vixens Ainsley McIntyre and Lindsay Burke originally showcased their antique finds on a rented shelf space in Gastown, but they soon progressed to pop-ups that sprung up whenever they’d been on an antique-sourcing trip. The Found & The Freed finally found a permanent home on Powell Street last summer, and it is open by appointment or for seasonal shopping. McIntyre and Burke take regular road trips down to the States to find old-fashioned treasures from retro globes to bus signs and designer furniture.
Courtesy Tacofino Commissary
Tacofino Commissary, 2327 E Hastings St., Vancouver
From humble bright-orange food truck beginnings in Tofino, Baja-influenced taco supremos Tacofino expanded to a distinctively decorated food truck on the streets of Vancouver and then added a second blue burrito truck that roams downtown. Last summer they opened their first stationary restaurant. Tacofino Commissary carries their much-loved fish tacos, but also branches out into more exotic Mexican-inspired world cuisine. Chow down on dishes such as pork jowl tacos with cabbage, fried shallot, pineapple, sriracha or brussel sprouts with bacon, cotija cheese and masa bread crumbs.
Pig & Mortar, Granville & Fir Street, Vancouver
Here today, gone tomorrow: Pop-up shops and restaurants are a common phenomenon in Vancouver, but these 7 have had staying power
For entrepreneurs, a pop-up shop or cart is an opportunity to try out a business idea. And for the rest of us, it’s a good chance to try something new. Some ventures stick around for a day or two, whereas others pop up regularly. Only a few, like the this eclectic mix of eateries, art galleries and stylish shops, have proved they have what it takes to turn into a full-time feature in the city.
Amy Watkins is a British writer who fell in love with Vancouver when she visited on an assignment and then moved here. She writes about travel for national UK publications and writes BCLiving's weekly events column.