SEEN IN VANCOUVER #436: Save On Meats Replacing Stolen Sign With Food Campaign

A couple of weeks ago a group calling themselves the Anti-Gentrification Front stole Save On Meats’ sidewalk sign, posed with it by throwing up peace signs (absurdly, as above) and sent the picture to Mark Brand as if they were putting him on notice. It was a silly bit of business, really, and it would be oh so easy to leave it at that and pay the insurance man. Alas, I don’t think that’s what Brand has in mind.

“The team was bummed. We say bummed because it was an inanimate sheet of plywood,” he writes tonight via email. “Nobody was hurt (feelings aside) but threats were hurled. Serious threats against the venue, and therefore against employees, people who work day in and out for their community.” In the morning, it appears as if he and “the team” will be responding, not with threats of their own, but with a laugh at the Anti-Gentrification Front’s posturing and a new campaign to help feed the women of the Rainier Hotel.

After an amazing week of media, emails and neighbourhood love a call was made. This piece of plywood was shaped to feed the community we love. For every picture (instagram @saveonmeats), tweet (@saveonmeats) and Facebook share with the sign we will provide breakfast to one resident at the recently underfunded Rainier Hotel. Yes, this is meant to spread the word and leverage media. It’s meant to show people that we will not be intimidated or bullied, nor have we ever been in the dozens of attacks in our 26+ months here.

Here’s the short version: misguided folk steal sign and hurl threats. We rebuild sign with donation and work within our community. People help said community with two clicks on their mobile device and show support.

Save On Meats: 1 Jackasses: 0

And…it’s a ton of fun to take pictures with.


There are 40 comments

  1. Haha! I bet those stupid kids that stole the sign didn’t think that it would be the catalyst in boosting Save on Meat’s marketing.

  2. Mark Brand, even his name, is so contrived. Let’s face it, he is a business man (and a very clever one), out to make money not communities. Don’t get it twisted, he is not really a victim, he only used this sign theft as a publicity stunt, seems it worked out well.

  3. @ naysayer

    You do realize that Save on Meats is known for their charity work on the downtown east side right? IIRC they provide a large number of the Turkeys for the food bank.

    If thats not building community i dont know what is.

  4. Naysayer doesn’t care about petty things like facts, he just shares his insightful nuggets about capitalism and moves on.

  5. I think donating to charity is the best way to be successful. I don’t understand why these people don’t pick on a gas station. Then someone who is working to make a difference.

  6. well at least (according to the S.O.M.’s tweet) he is acknowledging that this incident is being exploited for free advertising. lets be fair here, any business that operates in the black uses donations as a tax write off. Mark is a savvy business man to be sure, but he is still a gentrifier.

  7. @Anti-Naysayer

    Also, if you don’t know already you can pick up food tokens from them (for about $2.50 or $2.75). You can give these food tokens out to the homeless who can exchange it for a meal. I try to keep one in my wallet.

    This anti-gentrification front sounds like a bunch of whiny over privileged kids who have nothing better to rebel against.

  8. This my friends is what we call The High Road…Savvy PR move and helps the community at the same time…Well played

  9. After naysayer’s comments and the hijinks of these pseudo-activists with over-inflated egos, I am tempted to fly across the country to buy some meat from these folks. Grow up little children.

  10. the food token program is patronizing. and it’s not technically charity if mark brand is profiting. he shouldn’t have been posturing and pretending that he has the first idea about what the RESIDENTS of the down town east side need. you think someone with mental health and addiction issues will light up as soon as someone pulls a pithy egg sandwich token out of their pocket? unless they might be able to sell it for money to get drugs so they don’t get sick..there’s not much point besides mark brand being able to refer to himself as a hero and saviour on the dtes. he owns a lot of restos in this neighbourhood and none of them are affordable, with the exception of save on…maybe. most of the social services workers, and residents, etc around here know he is a phony-balony. i am not agreeing with the people who took the sign, because i think there are better ways of calling a spade a spade, but i’m not totally opposed to what they’re about either. it’s activism…but not even very extreme. and theres nothing wrong with that cheers

  11. Food token program= suggesting to these folks that they should be eating as opposed to making their own decisions with what to do when given some change or a handout=oppression of the already marginalized population of this neighborhood=oppression is the main step in colonization=colonization=gentrification=not the direction we should be going. mark brand=simple minded businessman
    ..vancouver is soon going to be a resort town for the rich.

  12. Yes, a business man, like every hardworking productive person in this city who in some way contributes to society are business people. Businesses that employ people, who then pay taxes (taxes that pay for the welfare and food and medical service and drop-ins and programs and everything else that keeps people committed to killing themselves alive), who can afford to take time off to volunteer or donate to the charities that, once again – actually keep the residents in DTES alive.

    I wonder if the gentleman who opened United We Can is a contrived business person when he opened his bottle laundering-sorry RETURNING business so that drug addicts can continue to line the pockets of drug dealers who then fuel the violence that reaches from here to Juarez? If not, why is that? Because he started out a hobo? Where does the idea that poverty is automatically akin to Godliness and having the brains and determination to make a success of yourself demonizes you, come from? Maybe you should move back to Cuba.. No, don’t there would be no point because everywhere communism has been attempted it’s been a miserable failure.

    None of these “anarchists” have the capacity to make anything of themselves or this city so they have to drag everyone else in the crap with you. How many meal programs have you started? What were your charitable donations last year? How many homes have you built for Habitat for Humanity? How many people do you employ through your various business ventures? Reading garbage response like yours and hearing the actions of some of these “activist” has really started to awaken my inner Ayn Rand. What universe do you people live in? Let’s not forget that if this guy hadn’t taken over the building it was only going to become another condo because no one wanted to maintain the business.

  13. You can make a lot of clever sounding academic arguments about how what Brand is doing is somehow a negative, but at the end of the day, he’s the one who’s actually facilitating DTESers getting food in their bellies. Crapping on Brand for making a practical difference doesn’t accomplish anything.

  14. Today I learned that giving someone a sandwich is patronizing. Good to know.

  15. Satire, pointing out the mental dissonance in people who seem to equate success automatically with villainy and poverty with sainthood. Much has been made of Mark’s name and whether he “belongs” in the DTES (as if anyone other than Aboriginal people’s are from here and even, the nations go all the way up the coast) so I was pointing out that there is another business that operates in the DTES, that generates money and serves the community but it never gets mentioned. It’s exploitive that people with homes, cars and money buy cans and bottles at half price when the bottle depot closed to desperate addicts who can’t afford to wait 3 hours. Then drive across town to return them at premium.That’s pretty exploitive. But if you don’t care, or are too scared to harass them at four in the morning with all the scary dealers out, I suppose stealing a sign is a good enough consolation prize.

  16. i don’t think anyone is saying success automatically equates with villainy and vice versa. the message being delivered by anti-gentrification protesters is not “you’re rich and you don’t belong”. it is “you are gentrifying our neighbourhood and displacing much needed affordable housing”. to be sure Mark feeds people who are poor, but lets be clear. he makes money doing so. i’m so tired of people ignoring the fact that peeps are gentrifying the DTES because the parties that do so do offer some sort of charity. lets just call a spade a spade.

  17. “Our neighbourhood”… I’ve lived in Strathcona my whole life my friend. I went to Lord Strathcona elementary then King George downtown, now that I’m an adult, I live just down the road in Gastown and I for one, see it improving. When I was a kid we had to dodge syringes in our soccer field and walking to Sunrise to get groceries was nightmare. I don’t remember a time in my 33 years when Gastown was anything but tourist shops and restaurants and bars. It’s exactly the same today. Save on Meat’s was there then and it’s here to today providing the exact same service in the community it always has. I was there the other day having a burger at the counter next to a great gent with no teeth that was loving his chicken sandwich. Again, exactly like it was under the old owners. So the complaint about Mark is that he own a lot of restaurants in Gastown, where there have always been restaurants and has more or less preserved Save on Meats but with added food programs for the DTES that didn’t exist before. How does any of this fit in with a narrative of gentrification?

  18. Mark Brand is proving a lot smarter than the ‘activists’ who oppose him.

    He has taken witty advantage of a childish theft, and made an opportunity for business, and a chance for women at the Rainier Hotel to eat better.

    When the Pidgin picketers start protesting drug dealers, pimps, and other criminals, the city will pay some attention. Until then, Mark Brand just made them look as foolish as they are.

    When the people are laughing at the protesters, the ‘activists’ have lost. The people are laughing today.

  19. I know you’re already backpedalling as fast as you can, Yukon but have you read the anti-gentrification screeds going around? In reality, they say *exactly* what you say they”re not saying.

    Example: “We need your help getting them out of the DTES and back exactly where they belong, behind bars (or in a chi chi ‘hood)”

    Along with being inaccurate, given that many of these business owners are working class with long roots in the DTES, it’s pretty clearly a “you’re rich and you don’t belong” message.

    Spades are the pointy ones for digging, not the square ones for carrying.

  20. The so-called “activists” who have been vandalizing and picketing restaurants in the DTES and on Commercial drive are a bunch of ineffectual, deluded morons.

    They presume to protest in the name of the disadvantaged of the city, especially its most marginalized citizens on the Downtown East Side. For some obscure reason, the businesses and people they have targeted as symbols of real estate profiteering and wealth inequality aren’t the developers, politicians, planners, lenders and investors who are actually permitting and building new condos, restaurants and high-end stores. No, that would make too much sense. It would also require thought and hard work.

    Absurdly, they are attacking a few small businesses – restaurants, run (as all independent restaurants are) by hard-working entrepreneurs who face thin odds of success in a notoriously hard business. Save-On-Meats and Pidgin are staffed by servers and kitchen workers trying to make an honest buck – many of whom actually live in the DTES. If the “activists” succeed in shutting down these businesses, these jobs and the incomes and taxes they generate will be lost.

    Irony abounds. The protesters’ main complaint, that gentrification is forcing out the residents of the DTES, is nonsense. Over the past 20 years, the city and DERA (the DTES Residents’ Association), funded in large part by the federal and provincial governments, have acquired and converted thousands of rooms and suites for disadvantaged people to live in. Literally hundreds of $$millions in tax dollars have been spent in the DTES on housing developments, drug and alcohol treatment programs, the needle exchange, outreach programs for natives, street kids, homeless people and sex workers, education programs and other social services for those hardest to reach. Tens of $$millions in public funds are spent every year to pay ongoing program costs.

    The ultimate effect of all this spending and social engineering is open to debate. The people of the DTES remain poor and disenfranchised, and the area remains a ghetto (albeit with condos) – stabilized and pacified to a great extent by publicly funded social services and housing. The protesters seem to think the area should effectively be walled off from change and economic opportunity – which is nonsensical given the enormous, ongoing evolution of this city over the past generation, which has only accelerated in recent years.

    Have they forgotten that the DTES was once the thriving commercial heart of the city? Where is it written that it is destined to be a permanent encampment for poor people?

    Vancouver’s real gentrification began decades ago, almost entirely outside the DTES. It took hold long ago in the West End, Kitsilano, Coal Harbour, Yaletown and False Creek. It is now in progress on South Main, Fraser Street, East Hastings, in North Burnaby, Richmond, New West and elsewhere.

    Breaking restaurant windows and stealing signs is a pointless, childish response.

  21. I think maybe are the activists really doing anything other than trying to she shame the city. They are anarchrists who vandalize the city because they are unhappy, many of them are homeless themselves. I think they’re just misguided one day they will realize what they did was wrong and that they aren’t actually doing any good behaving like this and acting like kids who just don’t care and get off on chaos. They need to flick that devil off there shoulder and maybe get jobs or even better volunteer for a cause that does something other than cause mayhem

  22. @mr. paywall. thanks for the link to one reporters opinion and critique of what the protesters are “protesting”. but i think i’ll stick with what i know to be true, based on discussions and discourse i’ve had directly with the protesters themselves. to be fair, in any subculture there is a fringe element that doesn’t agree with the principles and politics of the group on a whole (i.e. i’m sure some individuals might hold an inherent prejudice against rich people simply because they are rich) but to take these “fringe opinions” and report them as a sentiment the group on a whole agrees with is sensationalist, and ultimately, irresponsible journalism.

  23. I grew up in East Van all my life and I clearly don’t remember any kids growing up in Downtown Eastside. All of a sudden it’s an area that belongs to them?…… Has anyone seen east of Main and how much room there is? There is just senseless fighting!

    In every city there is going to be a poor ghetto area trust me on this one. The homeless needs lots of help. It’s not only the City of Vancouver’s problem it’s Canada’s problem because ……90% of people are not from Vancouver who live in DTES.

  24. Sorry Steve, I guess I didn’t notice the electrical fence in the 2 block border that separates Strathcona from Pain and Wastings. Only in East Van would such a ridiculous distinction even have to be made. I’m from here, if you don’t think growing up for 18 years at Princess and Pender “qualifies” me for speaking about a neighbourhood whose urine and shit filled alleys I could smell on a warm summers night through an open window you are a dullard. In case you haven’t noticed, in your position as the leading authority on all things East Van, the DTES is a gateway for shopping, transit and various others amenities servicing the residents of Strathcona. Maybe one day you just want to walk to buy dish soap and toilet paper and Army and Navy is a heck of a lot closer than Super Valu.

    Furthermore if you believe that all of the protestors or even the members of DERA live directly on Hastings then you truly are a moron. If I can’t claim some sense of ownership over the area I grew up, then explain to me why I should concern myself with opinions from a bunch of drug addicted, ex-cons who washed up here from Hamilton. Or some dogooder political science hipsters from Main Street by way of who-even-knows-where who have no problem presuming to tell everyone else who and what belongs in the DTES. The difference is Steve, I’m not being dismissive of them but try pointing out that you are from the exact same area and yet offer an opposing viewpoint on the neighbourhood and it’s improvements and you get derisive sneers from people like you. Who so succinctly demonstrated you have no idea what you are even talking about. But you made one good point, what child from the surrounding area could have any sense of pride in a neighbourhood so committed to being a vermin and bodily fluid ridden, hellhole of crime, suffering, sadness and misery.

  25. giving someone a sandwhich is only patronizing if half the money you spent goes into the sandwich maker’s wallet, and the other half is actually used to purchase the sandwhich. better to give someone the cash to buy two sandwiches.

  26. Come on people, you are so brainwashed by Brand. Anarchists do not steal signs….they break windows, burn sh$t, etc. Mark Brand saw a BUSINESS opportunity and took it. Or he is hoping that the anarchists WILL show to do real damage and he can then apprehend them with his magical powers and look good. I have little doubt that the original Save-On-Meats sign is sitting in Brand’s garage right now, waiting to be released after some homeless guy “finds” it in a dumpster somewhere so that Brand can offer him a job and be on Oprah again.

  27. So instead of giving someone a warm breakfast sandwich, I should give them $2.25 so they can go buy two magical sandwiches?

    And while you’re at it please also explain how Mark Brand pockets $1.12 for each sandwich the is given out. I’m sure Mark’s accountant would be interested as well. 🙂

  28. So instead of giving someone a warm breakfast sandwich, I should give them $2.25 so they can go buy two magical sandwiches?

    And while you’re at it please also explain how Mark Brand pockets $1.12 for each sandwich that is given out. I’m sure Mark’s accountant would be interested as well. 🙂

  29. Who wants to bet 20 bucks that Lucas reads the Agora and works at either The Foundation or Rain City Housing? I would love to be on Oprah twice, twice the chances to win a new caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaar (Try to imagine Oprah yelling that with her arms spread wide)

  30. Gentrification? As a kid we use to shop on Hastings Street every Sat with my parents and we lived in North Van. My mom shopped for her meat at Save On, from 1967 til they closed up. I use to sit at the back of the store at the counter and eat lunch while I waited for her to finish her shopping. We could walk over to Fields, or Army & Navy, cross the road to Wosks, go up the street to Woodward’s or the Golden Dragon, Woolworth’s, it was a bustling shopping district alive with many stores. Families would do their shopping and it was fun to go downtown, we felt safe, we could wander over to Chinatown, walk up the alleyways and take a shortcut even.
    The area was not the deadzone it is now.
    Gentrification?… no, just a resumption of what the area once use to be.

  31. Well now this group has burned down a house, an act that could have ended with murders of the very people they pathetically claim to be representing.

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