SEEN IN VANCOUVER #417: New Sandwich Tokens Go On Sale Today At Save On Meats

November 29, 2012.

Save On Meats’ new sandwich tokens go on sale today for $2.25 each. Hats off to the peeps at Odette Visual for making the superb super-short clip above. Nice work all around.


  • John

    Seems like a good way to generate positive cash flow for Save-On-Meats by tapping in to the DTES yuppie gentrification guilt complex. I would rather see Brand and his cronies donate directly to non-profits that assist these people.

  • Andi Quote

    john: what have you done that’s so great? do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?

  • Geebs

    Is it marketing? Yes. Does it have its heart in the right place? Yes. Better this than buy another 50 banner ads on Scout.

  • Scout Magazine

    The logic being that supporting Scout would mean that their heart was in a bad place? Yikes.FWIW, Save On Meats has never purchased advertising on Scout. If you’re referring to the banner ad run that they did with us several months ago, we offered it to them at no charge. Thanks for the benefit of the doubt, though. ;-)

  • Geebs

    Oh, don’t be so defensive. Just noting that although both mediums are marketing, the tabs have social impact and banners do not.

  • Scout Magazine

    That was my attempt to bring clarity to a good point that I considered to be poorly made. I’ll get over it.

  • Raymond

    “Seems like a good way to generate positive cash flow for Save-On-Meats by tapping in to the DTES yuppie gentrification guilt complex. I would rather see Brand and his cronies donate directly to non-profits that assist these people.”

    I’d like to point out that by doing this Brand has opened up a whole new way for these “DTES yuppies” to help out, whereas they may have not contributed anything previously. Granted, it might be an indirect and less effective way of transferring wealth back into the community, but it is still going to put food into hungry bellies. Just my $0.02.

  • Scout Magazine

    ^ That’s more like it.

  • Me

    I agree with you John but frankly if that guilt trip means more homeless/poor get a hot meal AND even if that means Save-on-meats makes a buck, what can I say? We both know where the owner of SOM is coming from but even if its a gimmick to make money it still helps people, in the end that makes it ok, not perfect, not the best approach but acceptable.

  • Steph

    No matter what someone does to try and make a difference, there will always be naysayers there ready to dismiss or criticize their ideas. I think what Mark has taken on is extremely admirable. It’s one thing to start a new business, it’s quite another to start a new business while supporting so many charitable organizations. If more companies did a fraction of what he has achieved, we’d be much better off as a society.

  • Adriana

    Whats happening here is the realization of a business in a zone that is experiencing gentrification. Unlike some of the other businesses in the area that have a security presence, or shop keepers that shoo away the the former inhabitants of east hasting, Save-on-Meat acknowledges their neighbors, helps as much as they can while still remaining a successful business and is encouraging charity. There is always this stigma that people are asking for drug money. This way people people can put a couple extra sandwiches on their tab at the end of lunch and hand a couple out on their way back to what ever you might do on any given day. If you look at the cost of a token versus a sandwich when you go into save on, there is a price difference. Perhaps to cover the cost of material? Businesses are all about profit, that’s how our economy is slated to work, so to those saying this is insincere, get a reality check.

  • Organmorgan

    I’m with John. Instead of SOM, give me a business that is honest about its intentions and does not draw charity away from reaching truly well-meaning organizations.

    So, affluent people walk into SOM, buy a meal and then buy some tokens at full value to dispense to the poor– sounds patronizing but good for the most part. But how many of those tokens actually find their way to poor people? (Poor people who are rarely if ever starving, by the way; if you want a free meal in the DTES, you can find one pretty much anytime you want.) Many of the tokens never get handed out, but SOM still makes a buck and the SOM customers still feel like they’re doing some major good (they’re not– see the starvation issue). Those SOM customers ostensibly end their “charitable giving” there and nobody but SOM benefits. Brilliant PR plan though– as shown by Brand’s face and poseur working man image being everywhere right now.

    It’s tokenism through and through.

  • Scout Magazine

    I’ll just leave this here…

  • Geebs

    This GIF is poorly made. Last word! *Fist pump.

  • Dusty

    Let’s put the challenge to SOM and ask them for full transparency. Is that not appropriate? It might vindicate them in the eyes of the naysayers. If they sell all 10 000 tokens, that’s $22 500. cash in SOM’s pocket. Quite a cash grab. They should release how many tokens are actually turned in and used to feed people in need. If only, let’s say, half are used, then maybe they should donate the cash balance (of what appears to be a PR cash grab) back to the DTES community to a group of their choice. I know that if I buy a token, and it does not get used, that the money I gave with good intentions does not line SOM’s pocket. The only time my money should line their pockets is when I spend it in SOM to buy a burger and beer.

    Much better PR for them in the end if they donate the cash balance! Apologies if I’ve missed somewhere that this was the intention in the first place.

  • Scout Magazine

    oh really

  • Scout Magazine

    Good theory, but how is it much better PR for them to go through all that effort just to please a few prejudiced naysayers that take convincing of their good intentions? I had dinner there last night with my kids. Place was packed. Trust in the fucks they could give about playing any math games to calm any outside anxieties. I’m with Ariana on this one.

  • Andi Quote

    organmorgan, is it fair to assume you have told mark brand this to his face and after his response, you remain confident in your opinion? because then your perspective would have some validity. otherwise it’s just a bitter, pessimistic rant that says way more about you than the people and place in question.

  • Toru

    After watching CBC’s The Big Decision (, it looks like SOM is actually a struggling business and Mark Brand has to personally invest his own funds into the operations just to keep it afloat —- because all the profits go towards feeding the needy in the DTES. He runs community programs where he feeds residents and has a lunch program. It’s pretty remarkable that he does it all without any government funding or subsidies.

  • KK

    Great idea, and I’m pretty confident no one’s gettin’ hurt – though some naysayers seem to see this as such. Benefits all ’round from where I’m sitting.

    I hope that all the baseless negative attacks don’t prevent others from doing high-profile charity campaigns. You can see how it could give charitable people pause, and that totally, totally sucks. I’m not saying there’s no room for queries or concerns, it’s more the pretty harsh tone and attitudes that seem to accompany them.

  • dusty

    andrew, it’s not about pleasing naysayers, it’s about honesty and transparency. don’t get me wrong, i applaud the effort (any effort) but i think this simply could have used a little more thought.

    are you actually comfortable with any business potentially profiting (substantially in this case and possibly upwards of $10 000 if less than half the tokens are lost or never used) from what is otherwise a great idea? an idea using charity as the model? and we’re talking profit in the clearest sense of the word.

    with a little more thought, this good idea could have been great. and i don’t think it’s too late to retool it retroactively to make it even better.

    as for scrutiny, well, we’re in the digital age and being scrutinized (instantly) is now part of our reality. so best to really think out plans so they rise above on all levels. then you can really trust in the fucks. and never have to play math games or calm anxieties. (btw, what i have is not an anxiety!) :)

    and i’ll still eat at SOM because i know that $1 goes to product and service. and guess what? i’ll buy a token even with everything i’ve said in the hopes that it feeds someone.

    btw, i’m an 11 year resident of the neighbourhood, twice participated in the homeless counts and sat on a board for a year helping the same people by raising funds. i’m not saying this for any reason but to say that i’m someone “here”. as others have asked “what have you done” in their fallacious arguments.

  • Scout Magazine

    The restaurant business has never been and will never be about honesty and transparency. If it was, no one would ever dine out again. ;-)

    And yes, I am comfortable with businesses profiting from alignment with charities as long as they are also making money for those charities (“partial proceeds”, etc). I work with the Gold Medal Plates/Canadian Culinary Championships raising money for Canadian Olympians. It’s a business, not a charity. Not all the money raised goes to the athletes, but they still get millions. I also support/sponsor Growing Chefs and Feast Van, which partner with for profit companies to raise funds for elementary food sourcing education and the Inner City Backpack program. Solid examples abound.

    I don’t doubt your credentials, Dusty (I live here too). It’s just that I don’t agree with the idea that a business should do no charitable works unless they show all their cards. Honesty and transparency are principles anathema to trade. If they were to be the operative guides, I’m afraid that there would be a lot less giving in the world.

  • Anna Farrant


    If anyone wants to come down to Save On Meats and meet me to discuss everything we do as a business with social values please send me an email. I would love to respond to all of your comments but I am busy trying to allocate this incredible interest from people in Vancouver that want to help out in the area. And not just with tokens, with their time and other organizations they would like to partner with.

    I am currently creating a data base of organizations that I can stream line all this interest. I feel the ” tokens” have struck a chord with people and this could be an amazing opportunity to connect the ” guilty hipsters” ( caring humans) with people and organizations that could use a hand.

    Maybe you want to help out? Send me an email

  • Scout Magazine


    Why get to the heart of the matter when one can venture unsolicited, anonymous opinions on the internet? Where’s the fun in that? But seriously, thanks Anna. I’m glad that the new program is generating a lot of interest. Hats off to all involved

  • dusty


    “It’s just that I don’t agree with the idea that a business should do no charitable works unless they show all their cards.”

    why not? why do things like we used to?

    “Honesty and transparency are principles anathema to trade.”

    again, old school thinking when a new model is needed. (i realize i’m getting into bigger issues here!) :)

    “If they were to be the operative guides, I’m afraid that there would be a lot less giving in the world.”

    i do not agree with this statement at all. again, plenty of new models out there proving otherwise.

    and yes, kudos to SOM and their token program for creating a dialogue and getting people to think outside of their comfort zones. and even more kudos to them if they listen to the dialogue of unsolicited, anonymous opinions from (apparently) guilty hipsters.

    i’m not sure why people look critically at the anonymous quality of the internet. it’s has a democratizing effect and may be, in the end, the checks and balances we need in the world that our governments have failed us with. you can’t use the medium and then trash it at the same time. just because someone is anonymous doesn’t mean they’re not doing plenty of good behind the scenes and practicing what they preach. (and i’m not speaking about myself).

    SOM as a brand (excuse the pun) has an audacious, brash and an infectious personality which i believe does them an amazing service in messaging to the public at large and might be exactly what the neighbourhood needs to spur ideas and create change. and for that i support them.

    and by the looks of anna’s post, they are also not afraid to partner and listen. hats off on all counts.

    (i for one tried three time to talk to them but there was no interest in what i had to share).

  • Scout Magazine

    Your romantic idealism is duly noted (and my cynicism is admitted).

  • dusty

    romantic? hmmm. if you insist. could it not have just been idealism, plain and simple? i save my romanticism for other ventures.

    how would you qualify your cynicism?

  • jerry not lewis

    why dont all these hater’s and poverty pimps complying about a restaurant that employ’s local creating income and uses innovation to tackle the social malaise of Vancouver head d down to the pivot legal society and countless other non profits and ask for a payroll audit on the amount they collect on the backs of the DTES and taxpayers of BC. Why aren’t they donating all of their time to resolve the poverty issue instead of building their careers and incomes around it and ensuring it’s continuation.

  • Pingback: The Gentrification Conundrum « Pass it to the Left()

  • Matt day

    I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but this program doesn’t sit well with me. I think this article (not by me) sums up my misgivings.

  • Kelvin

    Well following Save on Meat on the OWN Network, their own money is not to extravagant themselves few times almost closing. With many other companies in the World these days struggling too nice Save on Meat is still giving back. Which many other companies do not!

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