I’m starting to get worried. As an Inhabiter not to mention, lover of South Granville every once in a while I go through bouts of depression. A depression stemming from the colossal turnover of businesses on our stretch of Granville St. Shops move in and move out and sometimes simply move on. As large retailers move in smaller businesses move out. Or is it the other way around? Occasionally I wonder about the sanity of the independent shops that take up residence on SG, maybe I should admire their optimism?
Within the past 2 weeks we’ve lost or are about to lose 7 businesses. Moule moved to Granville and 6th just before Christmas and is already closing (update). A South Granville institution has shut its legendary doors. Speiser – in business since 1929 - has finally locked up. Shaughnessy Antique Gallery - another long term resident, first sitting on the West side of Granville and most recently the right, has closed up shop. Fashionable Max Mara has moved two blocks up the road into the old Winsor Gallery location. Great that they’re keeping it in the neighborhood, but what can we expect to see sitting next to the likes of Boboli and Bacci’s? Those are some exquisite shoes to fill.
Diplomatic Immunity has closed after about 5 years. At 11am one Thursday there were mannequins and lights in the window, 3 hours later - boards. Rumor has it though, that Montreal's WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie are potentially going to be taking its place. Specializing in high-end quality accessories for men WANT would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood's diminishing man-friendly merchandise.
Speaking of our mens fashion and its road to South Granville obscurity - DKNY and JNBY (confusingly both acronyms as well as being located next door to one another) are leaving SG for greener pastures. And lets face it, almost anywhere in Vancouver appears to be greener. With DKNY and JNBY sharing a wall it seems the perfect opportunity for a retail-giant to swoop in and take over both leases. Any guesses? - Pottery Barn Teen, J.Crew, Aldo . . . oh no wait, we tried that already.
We’re currently losing/or have lost some of our favourite fashion destinations. More importantly (depending who you talk to) we've lost a local market, a butcher and a baker. The candle stick maker has moved to Granville Island and is happily selling pounds and pounds of beeswax to tourists.
I wonder how long even powerhouses like the William Sonoma group will last in South Granville? Will they get frustrated with the neigborhood's unpredictability? Or is SG simply going to become a destination for popular American retailers? I suppose it saves me a trip to Bellis Fair.
Having said that, West Elm is this bizarre and welcome combination of massive retail chain and supportive local. With almost weekly guest appearances by local confectioners, designers and artists, West Elm has moved into South Granville and has truly embraced the neighborhood. This is unexpected and awesome.
It's nice to see Scoop coming back for their Spring stint. It's a great use of an empty space and it's something Scoop has been doing for years in neighborhoods all over Vancouver. It would be wonderful to have more pop-up locations taking advantage of some of the seemingly un-leasable spaces in SG. The miLES project - Made in the Lower East Side - facilitates just such a scheme. It fills unused short-term multi-use spaces for shops, classes - you name it. That's the gist of it - but there's so much more involved. The bottom line is to use vacant spaces so neighborhoods don't look like ghost towns. If something/someone can take up residence in an empty location until there's a permanent tenant then I bet my melancholy for the SG of yore would be replaced with anticipation for what new shop is moving in. Maybe one or two of them would become successful, maybe they'd stay maybe they'd move on. South Granville would be a lot less bleak if we could reduce the plethora of "for lease" or "closing out" signs.