Archive for November, 2011

Blight’s Home Hardware

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Jeffrey Ho, owner of Blight’s Home Hardware, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. After finishing his schooling in 1987 he moved to Canada. He spent four years working at McDonald’s and worked his way into a management position. Ho then returned to South Africa for five years to help with his family’s retail/wholesale butchery.  A change in career paths led Ho to become a web developer before he moved back to Canada in 2000. A year later he lost his job when the company closed due to the crash in the computer industry.

After many months of struggling to find work, a family friend offered Ho a job at Hewer Home Hardware. During his year at the hardware store, he discovered his passion for retail hardware and dreamed of running his own store one day. Co-incidentally, Ho heard that the owners of Blight’s Home Hardware were considering selling their store. He contacted Ted Blightt and asked for first consideration if Blightt decided to sell. Ho bought the store in March 2003. He has gradually built up the business by improving and increasing the selection. As his business grew, he looked at ways to improve or expand. Expanding the current store has been a challenge due to space constraints. An opportunity recently arose to open a second store when Gandy’s Home Hardware on West 4th Avenue became available. He took over the store in August 2011, and hopes to bring Blight’s reputation of service and friendly advice to the new store.

Ho has been married for twenty three years. He has two daughters; his oldest was born in South Africa and his youngest was born in Richmond, when they moved back to Canada. They are currently in Grades 4 and 9.

At the store Ho does everything from ordering, to serving customers, off loading the truck, and cleaning floors. He tries to lead by example. Behind the counter you will find his mother-in-law Queenie and Merlin who have helped with the business since it opened. Recently his sister and brother-in-law have also been working in the store. Two long time employees who had worked for Ted Blightt, Jon Ellis and Mike Donnan, recently retired.

Blight’s Home Hardware customers are mainly families from the Dunbar area. Their customers are multi-generational and are a mix of males and females.  Ho sees many dogs dragging their owners into the store for the dog treats Blight’s offers their canine customers!

To give back to the community, Blight’s Home Hardware sponsors Dunbar Little League Baseball every year, and provides donations to schools and local charities. Blight and his staff enjoy being part of the Dunbar Salmonberry Days and the Harvest Festival. Ho has been a board member of the Dunbar Village Business Association since it’s inception in 2008. Ho was a member of the Advertising Committee for Home Hardware for the past three years, and a member of the Home Hardware Young Leader’s group.

Blight’s Home Hardware makes deliveries, and anything not available in the store can be specially ordered in. They also sharpen knives and scissors. The number one item in the store is Natura Cloths, a biodegradable all purpose cloth made from wood fibre. In the fall and winter there is a greater demand for leaf bags, heaters and heating supplies, and salt when it snows.

When he is not working, Ho enjoys spending time with his family. He likes to cycle, play squash and go to an occasional movie.  He recently cycled in the Granfondo Ride, a 120 km ride from Vancouver to Whistler. Last year Ho was part of the Ride to Conquer Cancer and was overwhelmed by the support he received by the generous donations from many of his customers.

Ho describes himself and his staff as being “in the people business, selling hardware”. Customer service and satisfaction are extremely important to him. His favourite thing about Dunbar is driving to work on a clear day and seeing the mountains. He enjoys seeing the familiar faces of customers on the streets, and the social contacts he has made with other store owners and staff. He appreciates the mix of small businesses in Dunbar.  When Ho first started running the store, Dunbar Village was quiet. Over the years he has seen more businesses move in, and he looks forward to continued growth.

Ho’s story is an inspiring one of perseverance in his climb up the ladder to arrive where he is today, a successful businessman with two hardware stores to his name.  Like so many businesses, it is not as glamorous as putting the key in the door at 9 a.m. and leaving at 5 p.m.  Ho’s dedication to Blight’s Home Hardware is a fine example of the energy and commitment it takes to be a successful business owner.

by Sarah Gordon  ~  photos by Clayton Perry

The Dunbar Theatre: A Vancouver Treasure

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

I am one of many people who have a sentimental attachment to Dunbar Theatre. For me, the theatre contains wonderful memories dating back to the 1970s when my dad used to live around the corner. I clearly remember the magic of my first trip to Dunbar Theatre when we sat in the balcony with a bag of popcorn, and watched a gentle movie about a dog named Benji.

It is remarkable to think of all of the historical events that have taken place since 1935 when Dunbar Theatre first opened, and to reflect on the number of people over the decades that have sat in the theatre and enjoyed the magic of cinema.

Dunbar Theatre is indeed a community landmark, which has stood the test of time.

Dunbar Theatre was built during the Art Deco architectural period by J. Howard Boothe, who ran it until 1941, when Odeon bought the theatre and made it part of a nationwide chain. In 1987-1988 Dunbar Theatre closed down and was taken over by Famous Players for approximately ten years. The theatre closed again, and this time it seemed destined to be demolished, however, the community adamantly rejected plans for redevelopment.

It is here that the current story begins. In February 1998, three university students, including young entrepreneur Ken Charko, the present day owner of Dunbar Theatre, approached the property owner and requested permission to operate the theatre as a summer project. Soon after, Charko leased the building and was the new owner of Dunbar Theatre. Eight years later his dream of running a theatre had doubled, and Charko was running two independent theatres when he became the operator of Varsity Theatre.

Charko has plans to upgrade the exterior of the theatre in the next two years. In the meantime, he has made a huge financial investment of over $300,000 in the facility. The old theatre seats have been replaced with extremely comfortable new wide seats that recline slightly, and have armrests that lift up if you wish to snuggle in close to your companion. The leg room is abundant; in fact, the theatre lost approximately 300 seats to accommodate the new ones. In addition, Charko has purchased the most advanced digital and 3D equipment in Vancouver. Dunbar Theatre shows first run films, it offers up the best popcorn in town (thanks to a top-secret ingredient

which brings one regular customer back on a weekly basis!), and ticket prices are lower than the competition (along with Tuesday night specials when all tickets are $8). Dunbar Theatre is available for private rentals for birthday parties and company functions.

Going to see a film is a social meeting ground where people emerge from their homes to sit together, and wait for the magic moment when the lights dim and all eyes focus on the screen.

Dunbar Theatre

Sadly, Vancouver’s independent theatres are a dying breed. The Varsity Theatre closed in January 2006, a victim of redevelopment. Neighbourhood theatres are in a high-risk category. Theatres are costly to run, leases can be high, theatres are located in prime locations where real estate is highly sought after, and independent theatres are in competition with megaplex theatres, home downloading and Netflix. Kitsilano’s Hollywood Theatre recently closed after 75 years in business, and people are once again hoping that Ken Charko will protect their beloved Dunbar Theatre from a similar fate.

Charko is in an advantageous position to represent community interests as he is running as a candidate for Vancouver City Council on the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) slate in the civic election. He has a reputation for being a smart, no-nonsense business owner who cares a great deal for his community. He supports the arts, small business owners, and community development. With voter’s support, Charko hopes to bring his thoughtful energy and commitment to Vancouver City Council.

Charko’s professional career includes serving on the Board of Directors for the Motion Picture Theatre Association of BC for more than ten years, promoting small business as the owner of the Dunbar Theatre, and developing national businesses including his current project, developing a national food service retailer called Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt, headquartered in Vancouver.

His community service includes volunteering for the Canadian Red Cross, the Olympic Committees, and donating time and resources to Vancouver Film School students who are working toward a career in the motion picture industry.

Charko is passionate about his work; he is aware of how important the theatre is to community, and he commits many hours to Dunbar Theatre.

Many memories are housed within the building, from first kisses, to a place where people met their spouse. Charko will keep the theatre going as long as he enjoys going to work, and as long as people continue enjoying motion pictures at one of the jewels in the crown of Dunbar Village, the Dunbar Theatre.

by Sarah Gordon  ~ photos by Clayton Perry

Creative Minds Early Learning Center

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education recognize the efforts of outstanding and innovative early childhood educators who foster the early development and socialization of the children in their care and help build the foundation they need to meet life’s challenges. Financial awards for the Certificates of Excellence (national award) are shared evenly between the recipient and the recipient’s ECE setting to be spent under the recipient’s direction. Financial awards for the Certificates of Achievement (local award) are sent directly to recipients.

What:  A special event celebrating Maria Kathryn Dula Mary Wan Lee Fai, and Wendy Lou McPhail, recipients of Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education- Certificate of Achievement

When: Wednesday 23rd November 2011 from 4:30-6:30pm

Where: Southlands Elementary School library
# 5351 Camosun Street, Vancouver, BC, V6N 2C4

Name of recipient: Ms. Maria Kathryn Dula, Ms. Mary Wan Lee Fai, and Ms. Wendy Lou Mc Phail
Name of ECE setting/location: Creative Minds Early Learning Centre
# 5351 Camosun Street, Vancouver, BC, V6N 2C4
Name of nominator: Dr. Monika Naus
Name of Member of Parliament: Mr. Don Davies, M.P., The Hon. Alice Wong, P.C., M.P,

Photo & Interview Opportunity:
The recipients of the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, Maria Kathryn Dula, Mary Wan Lee Fai, and Wendy Lou McPhail, Director Kate McCabe, will be available for photos and interviews after the event. Also we anticipate that Candidate for Mayor, Suzanne Anton will be attending!

For more information please contact:
Kate McCabe

The Hob and Hobb Too

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

The Hob (Hospice Opportunity Boutique) and Hob Too are fundraising initiatives of the Vancouver Hospice Society.   Located on Dunbar Street, both shops generate funds directed towards building and operating the first hospice home on the west side of Vancouver. The groundbreaking for the new hospice home at 4615 Granville Street occurred in the summer of 2011 and completion of the building is scheduled for the spring of 2012.  Revenue generated by The Hob and Hob Too contributes to funding the operating budget of the hospice and its programs.

In 2006, a small core of enthusiastic volunteers connected by friendship and dedicated to seeing a freestanding hospice home built in the community came together to take on the challenge of opening The Hob.  Drawing upon their various forms of professional expertise and personal experiences with illness, they opened The Hob at 3352 Dunbar Street between 17th and 18th avenues.  The Hob sells gently used chic fashions and accessories including shoes, bags, scarves and jewelry for women of all ages. The success of The Hob outstripped its initial space and in October 2011, it moved to a more spacious, brighter location at 4255 Dunbar Street between 26 and  27 Avenue.

Also located on the Dunbar strip is Hob Too that offers discerning treasure hunters gently loved house wares, small furniture, glassware, vintage linen, artwork and curios.  Hob Too is located at 3470 Dunbar Street, between 18th and 19th avenues, in what might be termed Dunbar’s antique alley.

The Hob and Hob Too espouse the values of hospice.  Volunteers generously dedicate their time and energy in a multitude of ways to create a team: some clean, build shelves and arrange displays in the window; others sort clothing and collectibles; others cheerfully welcome and assist shoppers.  The Hobs have become a friendly gathering place for shoppers and browsers on Dunbar Street.  Volunteers also provide an extra helping hand by assisting people in their homes to sort through clothing or to pick up small pieces of furniture.  Donated items that the Hobs are unable to use are re-directed to a transition house for abused women and an international organization for use in third world countries.

Volunteer drivers make deliveries to these organizations on a weekly basis.

The Hob and Hob Too have become an integral part of the Dunbar community.  Neighbouring merchants have welcomed and assisted the shops by supplying handyman help when emergencies occur, providing dry-cleaning for certain items and offering reductions on alterations so that a clothing item fits just right.  Together, donors of the clothing and collectables, volunteers who run the shops, neighbouring merchants who provide support, and individuals who frequent the shops collectively make a difference to the vibrancy of Dunbar.  In so doing, they also create a difference, enabling the creation of a hospice home that will provide compassionate care to those facing advanced illness, death and bereavement.

Dunbar Village for the Holidays!

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Come to Dunbar Village on Saturday, December 17, 2011 for “Dunbar Village for the Holidays” on Saturday, Dec 17, 2011 with horse carriage rides, roaming carollers, free hot chocolate and elves!

Presented by the Dunbar Village Business Association.

Dunbar Disposal

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Ian Gow is the owner/operator of a local rubbish removal business named Dunbar Disposal.
Ian gives excellent customer service and cares about the environment. Whatever can be recycled or donated is.

He has been serving the Dunbar and surrounding areas since 2001. Whatever you have, he will take it away!

Call Ian Gow at 604-765-3867 for a free estimate.

Or visit his website