Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

Stong’s Market

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017

A Grand Return to Dunbar.

It was a perfect spring day – the sun was shining, music was playing and it felt like a big Dunbar block party when Stong’s Market officially re-opened on May 13.

John Roden, Stong’s marketing manager reports, “It was great to see the fun and excitement as kids were high-fiving Spiderman and people were spinning the prize wheel. We couldn’t have asked for a better grand re-opening celebration.”

There was a noticeable absence in the neighbourhood last May when the grocery store closed due to redevelopment of the 4500 block of Dunbar Street. Remarkably, Stong’s was only gone for seven months while the new location at West 27th Avenue and Dunbar Street was being completed.

This is the fourth time Stong’s has relocated on Dunbar Street in 62 years.

Stongs Market Cori Bonina Dunbar LifeThe original 1955 location was situated where BMO now resides. In 1960 Stong’s moved to 4326 Dunbar (now home to Shoppers Drug Mart). In 1980 it moved south to its former location across from Dunbar Theatre. The new Stong’s is in almost the same location as the original 1955 store.

Stong’s president and owner Cori Bonina holds the honour of being the fourth generation owner of this family business. Her great grandfather Carson Stong opened the first Stong’s Market in the early 1890s in Toronto with his brother Joe. With the onset of the Depression in 1931, Carson moved to Vancouver and set up two of the first open-air markets in Vancouver. His son Ralph opened the first Vancouver Stong’s Market in 1955.

Ralph’s son-in law Bill Rossum (Cori’s father) took over as general manager in 1971. Cori joined forces with her father and became general manager in 1997; she took over as president in 2001. Her son Carson is carrying on the family legacy; he is the manager of Stong’s new Northwood location in North Vancouver.

2016 was a monumental year for Stong’s. The Northwood location opened in May and in December the Dunbar village store had a soft re-opening.

Frank Rainey, director of store operations, mentions that designing Stong’s from the ground up was a wonderful opportunity. He says, “We are proud to have evolved into a 21st century grocery store where customers can expect an elevated shopping experience.”

Stongs Market butcher Dunbar LifeThe attractive Dunbar village store has increased in size by 6,000 square feet and features modern elements such as concrete floors, exposed ceilings and a West Coast feel through the use of wood panelled walls, but at the same time the past is still very much present. Champion, the beloved coin-operated horse, awaits eager young riders. John says, “Parents bring their children to ride on the horse they rode as a child.” Historical photos are also nicely integrated to celebrate the store’s rich past. Another nod to the past is a free cookie at the bakery for little ones.

Specialized departments surround the periphery of the shop. If you are looking for magnificent floral arrangements head to Stems, located at the store’s entrance. Five floral designers are on staff to create wow factor custom bouquets.

The introduction of a stone oven pizza is proving to be a big hit, as is Edibles, the expanded deli where customers can choose from a large selection of take home prepared foods including many offerings from Stong’s own brand, Cori’s Kitchen. Frank mentions that Stong’s roasted chicken continues to be one of the favorites with their customers.

In a rush and need to grab a meal on the go? Head to the panini counter or pick up some freshly made sushi. If baked goods are on your shopping list the in house bakery is sure to please. As a side note, the tantalizing aromas circulating from the various departments can lead you on a hunt to track down what’s cooking.

Tip: There is plenty of spacious free underground parking on site.

A wide selection of products from major national brands to an extensive selection of unique, gourmet, natural and organic products can be found. Stong’s takes pride in supporting local suppliers of all sizes; work is well under way to expand the selection of local produce as they have been reaching out to a lot of local farmers.

Stong’s also supports many local small suppliers looking to develop their product; it was the first store to offer Lesley Stowe Raincoast Crisp crackers, which are now sold throughout North America.

“Stong’s staff are passionate about their departments. They love what they do.” Frank Rainey

As anyone who shops at Stong’s knows, it is a community hub where you run into friends and neighbours in the aisles. With the introduction of Replenish café, customers can catch up over an impromptu coffee and light snack. On warm days roll up garage doors open with additional seating outdoors.

Stongs Market Cori Pizza Dunbar LifeNo time to go grocery shopping or perhaps you can’t make it out of your house? No worries, Stong’s Express is an online shopping service which offers next day delivery to most of the Lower Mainland with dedicated personal shoppers and trucks on the road seven days a week.

John aptly points out, “Stong’s is the heart of the community. There is an emotional connection to this store.” Without a doubt, Stong’s short-term closure reinforced Dunbar residents’ vested interest in their market. They love to shop locally and support independent businesses, and are extremely happy to have their favourite grocery store back.

Stong’s Market
4221 Dunbar Street
Vancouver, BC V6S 2G1
Telephone 604-266-1401

Keeping it Local

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Dunbar resident John Schretlen has lived in this neighbourhood his entire life. As a boy he attended Immaculate Conception School followed by high school at Vancouver College where he recalls playing on the same Grade 8 football team as Lui Passaglia.

Schretlen has fond memories of his “best childhood shopping experiences” when he would take his 25 cents allowance and hit the town. His pace would increase as he spotted his destination, the candy shop, which used to be located near Handi Cuisine. Childhood shopping experiences can etch permanent memories. Schretlen clearly recalls “the candy lady” and he fondly remembers baker Mabel Picket from Ideal Bakery (now home to Butter Tea Room).

As an adult he did not stray from the area. Why would he? Schretlen has read that Dunbar is one of the most stable communities in Vancouver. He says, “For those who live in Dunbar it is easy to understand. There are few neighbourhoods that are situated fifteen minutes from downtown, and are equally close to the airport.”

He and his wife Kathy have lived on West 27th Avenue since they married in 1979 and raised their family here. Schretlen lovingly spent many hours coaching little league, soccer and softball, in addition to being a Scout leader. He says it was nice to see the same faces on a weekly basis with all of his community involvement.

A number of years ago the couple set a goal to see if they could purchase Christmas gifts at small independent businesses rather than patronize malls and big box stores. Schretlen laughs when he admits thinking, “Great! No Birks boxes this year.”

With this new approach to shopping and gift giving they were forced to think outside of the (big) box. Schretlen remembers church fairs and Dunbar Community Centre’s craft fair being particularly helpful. Olinda’s and Blight’s Home Hardware rounded out the experience and they achieved their mission. He says shopping locally at Christmastime stirs up a “Charles Dickens feeling.”

Over the years Schretlen has found shopping at smaller businesses to be very rewarding. This year he began Christmas shopping in October during Splash Toy Shop’s sale where he stocked up on top-secret presents for his grandchildren.

As a pilot with Air Canada’s Jazz, Schretlen’s career in aviation has afforded him time to spend with his family, and it also has introduced him to many communities that he may not otherwise have visited.

He enjoys finding local gems and seeing people milling about and interacting in their communities. He and Kathy love to set off on long motorcycle trips with friends. On their travels they browse local businesses and with limited space on their motorcycle they often have their purchases shipped home.

While Schretlen does not get up on a soapbox to preach the merits of shopping locally, and he has been spotted shopping off the Dunbar grid, he does support Dunbar merchants whenever possible. He enjoys being able to walk from his home to dine out. Handi Cuisine, The Cheshire Cheese, Dream Sushi and Moki’s Pizza are some of his favourite local restaurants. He picks up bulk food at Weigh to Go, he likes Beantown Coffee House and he has extremely kind words to say about the attentive staff at Shoppers Drug Mart. Stong’s Market is also high on his list of favourite places to shop.
Each business in this community plays a vital role in making the area such a desirable place to live. This holiday season why not consider setting a goal to shop Dunbar and see just how much you can accomplish locally? The gift guide on page 34-35 of this issue has some wonderful ideas to help pave the way.

Shop Dunbar This Holiday Season

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

This holiday season, think outside the mall. If you choose to shop, make your gifts more meaningful by finding items that are truly representative of Dunbar, not something that can be found on any shelf, in any town. Dunbar is home to a number of locally owned restaurants and specialty shops. Yet, many of these independently owned establishments face the threat of being run out of business by corporate chains and the escalation of hyper-competitive online shopping. Keeping your favorite mom-and-pop shops around requires a conscious effort and faithful commitment to choosing to buy locally.

There are so many reasons why shopping locally is the most economically beneficial choice for the community. Independent retail shops carry handmade items crafted by local or regional artisans, just as many independent restaurants focused on sustainability incorporate locally grown and seasonal produce into their menus’ recipes. Because these business owners recognize the importance of purchasing goods and services from other independently operated businesses, they are much more efficient at circulating money back into the local economy than chain stores which seldom, if ever, utilize locally sourced items. Building inventory through local purchasing also reduces our environmental impact, since less transportation is involved.

Small, independently owned businesses are adaptable when it comes to utilizing available rental space in their towns, and require comparatively lower infrastructure costs than nationally owned stores which typically demand uniform facilities. Whereas chains’ profits go back to corporate headquarters out of town, almost everything spent at locally owned businesses is guaranteed to stay within the community. Because business owners are more focused on their own interests than on national trends, a community of locally owned businesses is able to offer a very wide array of products and niche outlets. Preserving this diversity in an increasingly homogenized world is essential in promoting community growth and prosperity, as it brings in tourists seeking destinations with distinctive character and entrepreneurs looking to settle in an area friendly towards new start-ups and innovation.

Truly recognizing and caring about the needs of their community, locally owned businesses donate to local nonprofit organizations much more frequently than their big-box adversaries. They’re also more flexible when it comes to strengthening the community through joining local organizations. One of the greatest aspects of shopping locally is that you often get an opportunity to establish connections with the owners themselves.

Dunbar is a community in Vancouver located on the west side of Vancouver.  The boundaries are between 16th Avenue in the north to 41st Avenue in the south, and UBC Endowment Lands in the west to Mackenzie Street in the east.

photos by Clayton Perry