Walking into an all-vegan grocery was an odd experience. It was a little like entering a lingerie store. While I could see straight away that the place could benefit me, I knew deep down that it wasn’t really meant for me. Of course that wouldn’t stop me from taking a good look around. Perhaps I’d learn something new…
Such was the case the other day when I toured the soon to launch Vegan Supply shop in Chinatown. I learned a lot. Unbeknownst to me – still ever red in tooth and claw – the edible options for vegans have exploded in recent years, and by the looks of things all over the shelves at 250 East Pender Street. If you’re vegan, congratulations. If you’re considering making a change towards veganism, this place is at the end of your rainbow. And it won’t be long now. The brick and mortar front of VeganSupply.ca looked nearly complete.
The online store was launched in 2014 by Jason and Linda Antony, who also co-own the popular vegetarian restaurants Meet On Main and Meet In Gastown. Irony has put them in what used to be a Chinese BBQ pork operation. But that was a long time ago. The 2,500 sqft space (with another 2,500 sqft in the basement) has sat dormant for almost as long as I can remember. It’s last use, if I’m not mistaken, was as an office (without exterior signage). Before that, it was the home of a durable goods store called Man Cheong Trading Co., which I have no firm recollection of. Jason and Linda picked it up in early 2016, running it as a warehouse for their online stock (they supply a half dozen or so local eateries with vegan products) while undergoing a lengthy permitting process for the store.
As to how it will fare is anyone’s guess. I’m not the least bit tapped into the vegan world (a fact brought home while browsing the crowded shelves — so much interesting stuff!), but I see that Virtuous Pie is always busy down the block, and a vegan organic gelato shop is imminent across the street. There are also thousands of people in Vegan Supply’s customer database, so I expect it will cause some excitement within the vegan community when it opens. (Jason and Linda are also gunning to launch another location in South Surrey in September, so confidence is clearly a test they never had to take.) Regardless of the ease or difficulty of their success in Chinatown, it’s swell to see the space leased for a change, even if I won’t be the most regular of its customers. They’re hoping to open softly next week, and I wish them well.