I never took a photograph of it because I thought it would always be there.
Last week, if you stood at the southwest corner of Denman and Comox, you would have seen this, unchanged from when I took this shot almost a decade ago:
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Perhaps you might have picked up some fresh fruit, or flowers, or a litre of milk.

Not today:

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Gone, and I don’t know why.  A classic Chinese market-garden corner store, with roots that go back, what?, practically a century.   So perhaps the owners, finally retired, have no one to pass it on to.  Or couldn’t compete?  Or evicted?South Van Produce

To be replaced by, what?, another coffee shop to take advantage of the Comox greenway.  Or another fast-food brand, thinking the beach traffic will be insatiable.  West Enders will find another place to shop, of course, but now there is less diversity, less character.  And a whole lot of memories.

If anyone has some – or, better yet, a picture of South Van Produce with the fruit and flowers spilling onto the sidewalks – pass them along.

And to those families who worked those endless hours, struggled and thrived, raised their children behind the counters, and served generations of West Enders, a thank you, a very special thank you.

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South Van Produce 2

Comments

  1. The good bye notice they had up in the window was going around on my facebook last week, along with comments that they were forced out by a dramatic rent increase… but I can’t vouch for that.

    1. That’s right – it was because of a dramatic rent increase. They were evicted because they could not pay the huge rent increase that was demanded of them. The landowner wanted them out so that he/she could turn around and charge significantly more to a new tenant.

  2. Wow. I bought about half of my vegetables and fruit there for nearly twenty years. Happens I’m staying in Kitsilano for a while, and didn’t notice this; just a little sad. No doubt a big rent increase could be at fault, but I wouldn’t assume that without evidence. The couple who ran it weren’t all that old, but they weren’t spring chickens either. They could very easily have just decided to retire, or take up some other business, that doesn’t demand long hours on your feet, often outside in the cold. Goodness knows I would.

  3. Does anyone know what’s going on with businesses in the West End?
    I’ve witnessed more than a dozen businesses close down in the past year. Is it really rental increases? Or is it that there are no more customers? Did the HST finally kill the businesses? I realize the HST is now gone, but perhaps the HST was a slow kill to restaurants over the years, coupled with food inflation over the past year or 2?
    Or is it because the West End is turning more asian and alot of these restaurants served western food and asians don’t patronize them enough?

  4. The family that ran South Van Produce told me they were forced out because the landowner was demanding an exorbitant rent increase. I knew the owners and I shopped there all the time. They showed me the demands that they had received. They tried to fight it but could not afford lawyers to continue the fight. So, they were evicted because they could not support the huge rental increase that the landowner was evidently demanding. The landowner wanted to get them out so that he/she could turn around and re-rent it to a new tenant for significantly more money.

  5. That is the (sad?) reality in a rising real estate market. Light and shadow are close together. But then, why should commercial tenants pay way less than market ? Residential tenants pay market too, when a suite becomes vacant. Could the grocer have charged triple for his produce to make due ? Would the customers accept that, or go a block up to Safeway @ Robson and Denman instead ?

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