There is a London Drugs in my neighbourhood on E. Hastings St in the beautiful, crazily expensive, but ever more cash-strapped city (thanks Olympics!) of Vancouver, BC.
You can buy a vacuum there, a rubbermaid tote, toothpaste, contraceptives, drugs, computers, cameras, batteries, cosmetics, stationary, junk food, camping gear in summer, cookware, toasters, blenders, hallmark cards and holiday decor according to the season.
London Drugs is big on the street already, bigger than any other store. But not big enough. They plan to take over most (or all?) of the block to the west. They want to dominate Hastings, our main street in this little urban village of Hastings-Sunrise. Or maybe it’s an IGA coming in- the rumours are flying, in the absence of any clear consultation.
Tevere deli is gone already to my shock. I heard from another of my favourite shop-keepers that “it’s a done deal and that even the businesses didn’t know about it until too late.”
Are you mad yet?! It’s not over. The liquor store between Slocan and Kaslo is now privatized. Done again overnight with no public consultation. The landlord refused to sign the lease with the BC Liquor Store. Across the street a huge new mental health facility is being built (I’m fine with that, being a fan of all forms of health) with a massive NEW SHOPPERS DRUGMART.
We chose this neighbourhood because we could walk here to buy groceries, stop at a cafe, get a key cut, visit the doctor, go to school and greet people I recognize and who recognize me along the way. Small businesses are key to what makes this neighbourhood great.
I love buying from shop-keepers who own the stores they work in. I love that there is a mix of stores on this street; from independent dollar stores, to Donald’s and all the other fabulous green grocers, to Wheelhouse Seafoods who now sell a full range of non-medicated meat, to Le Petit Saigon– my favourite pho in Vancouver, to the Cake Master bakery/optometrist shop to GreenRoom Yoga, owned by my teacher Alix, who also lives in the neighbourhood.
It’s not perfect for sure. We could make it safer, we could encourage more of the kind of businesses and services we need. But I feel deeply lucky to live here where some small businesses are able to thrive.
This is when I would like some super-hero activists to sweep in and make this go away. The cost of “fighting a battle” is that we don’t get the time to create the peace. I’ve got ideas and energy for that right now! I don’t want to spend time beating back the corporate behemoth that wants to swallow my neighbourhood.
I don’t even know what to do but write this. But I mentioned this on Twitter and Barbara said “boycott ’em all. Picket them.” I mentioned it to my 6 year old and he said “we got to tell everyone and get it in the newspaper.” (He learned a few lessons from the successful community fight to save Garibaldi school last year.)
I’m up for something fun and powerful. Any ideas, energy, or previous rabble-rousing experience you’d like to share? Please also share any up to the minute information…lots of rumours are circulating about the plans for the block.