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Granville Island Market

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Today's Sun has a story about the Granville Island Public Market and how it is losing custom to the many other competitors that have entered the downtown grocery market place. The Island merchants have always passionately opposed increasing the market hours, even though that seems to be an obvious step to take. I am sympathetic to their concerns about working longer hours, but it is pretty obvious that changes are needed and I would appreciate a later closing hour.

I've been going to Granville Island Market since it opened, so it is part of my culinary history. I'm also interested in arts and craft and many craft guilds and associations have a home on the Island, so I will always be a regular. But others don't have those attachments.

What would it take to get you to go more often to Granville Island? Is it the hours, the parking, or ?


Cheers,

Anne

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Interesting topic. I live in the neighbourhood and, right now, am also working in the neighbourhood, so it's easy for me to go down any time. I prefer shopping there because of the variety and freshness of foods. Price isn't a huge issue for me. I hear people complain that it's too expensive. IS it more expensive? (can you tell I don't compare prices?)

If I didn't live in the area, I think parking would be a big issue. That and the crowd on the weekend. It's really frustrating trying to navigate through the market when entire families with kids & baby carriages are blocking the aisles [/rant].

For that reason, I prefer going during the week when it's slow.

(I apologize to those of you with families who shop @ the market. :rolleyes: )


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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As a downtown resident (Gastown) I find that we shop at Choices and Urban Fare... we can walk to them and bus or cab it back home if we are buying alot of items. I find GI just too touristy compared to markets in Europe. The chain supermarkets are now catering to gourmets (Whole Foods) with hugh selections of cheeses, organic produce (local and international) and everyday needs. When we do go to Granville Island we usually walk to Yaletown along the sea wall then hop on the Aqua Bus. Parking at Granville Island is awkward at best. I guess once more of the downtown core is built up we maybe able to lobby for a shuttle bus to run on weekends or several times day with a direct trip from downtown to the island for shopping. I love the idea of supporting family buinesses rather than shopping at chains but the times at Granville Island are not convenient if you work 9-5. They should open early on weekends 7am to attract residents who do not want to shop with the tourists.

Stephen Bonner


"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I live about a 10 min walk from Granville Island so I shop there every weekend. The opening hours prohibit me from visiting during the week, something that I really don't like. I hate being forced to go to Safeway on the way home from work. I simply don't have the time to go out of my way to Capers or something like that.

If the market was open for one extra hour (7pm instead of 6pm) that would make all the difference to me. I work in Burnaby and finish work usually around 5:30pm, making that 6pm deadline impossible.

And um, yes I do visit with my son in a stroller most of the time. And yes it gets really, really crammed on weekends, especially during the summer. But I am very good at stroller-navigation! :smile: Our sunday breakfasts from Rubina are a tradition now, he loves the scrambled eggs they do with the flatbread and the mango chutney. Some of the vendors have known him since he was a wee newborn strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn. He gets a free slice of Bavarian meatloaf at Oyama every time we visit. He also loves to chase the pigeons at the little square in the back and listen to the performers. A dancing 1.5 year old surely attracts people to a busker! He must be in a lot of photo albums. :biggrin:

Price wise I don't think it is any more expensive than a place like Capers or Choices. In fact, most of the vegetables and such are very cheap imo. The butchers are a bit more expensive but I have no problem with that since I like getting my meat from a butcher I know, rather than from a bin at Safeway.

Parking is a major hassle. If I need a large amount of groceries I drive there at 9:00am sharp. There are a few 'secret spots' that usually have spaces but after 10am on a weekend all parking bets are off. Walking past that long line of cars on a Saturday afternoon makes me feel lucky I live close enough to walk.


Stefan Posthuma

Beer - Chocolate - Cheese

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I echo the sentiment about longer hours. I tend to go shopping in the evening, and by then the market is closed. The 6pm closing time is not entirely accurate even. They start to pull things down and start cleaning around 5:15 or 5:30 frequently.

Perhaps they should have a Vancouver resident discount card to pull people in, and address any price concerns. Keep the prices where they are for the tour bus folks, but let locals shop at local prices. Just a thought. :smile:

By the way, there is a bus from downtown too. But not a direct non-stop shuttle bus. You can take the 50 from downtown (I believe it starts over in Gastown actually) and it stops right at the base of the island. :smile:

Cheers!

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I echo the sentiment about longer hours.  I tend to go shopping in the evening, and by then the market is closed.  The 6pm closing time is not entirely accurate even.  They start to pull things down and start cleaning around 5:15 or 5:30 frequently.

Perhaps they should have a Vancouver resident discount card to pull people in, and address any price concerns.  Keep the prices where they are for the tour bus folks, but let locals shop at local prices.  Just a thought.  :smile:

By the way, there is a bus from downtown too.  But not a direct non-stop shuttle bus.  You can take the 50 from downtown (I believe it starts over in Gastown actually) and it stops right at the base of the island.  :smile:

Cheers!

Hi Vancouver,

I completely forgot about the 50 bus...maybe because takes 50 minutes to get there from my home by the time the driver kicks off the druggies and non-payers! I like the idea of a discount card... e-gullet readers send an e-mail to the market! The merchants there could also consider offering a downtown delivery service for a fee... the logistics would be a nightmare at first but I bet it would pay off in the long run.

Stephen


"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I like the idea of a discount card...

But would a discount card actually get you to go to the market more often? Is it enough of an incentive to drive all the way down there & fight for parking?

Don't get me wrong, I'd be first in line for my card, but I'm one of the ones already going there. Would a discount card make you start going there?


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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I like the idea of a discount card...

But would a discount card actually get you to go to the market more often? Is it enough of an incentive to drive all the way down there & fight for parking?

Don't get me wrong, I'd be first in line for my card, but I'm one of the ones already going there. Would a discount card make you start going there?

Most likely not but some people just can't turn down a deal even if it's going to cost them the savings in parking and fuel fees. The market is a great thing to have so any input the management gets from us hopefully will influence future marketing plans.


Edited by SBonner (log)

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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I completely forgot about the 50 bus...maybe because takes 50 minutes to get there from my home by the time the driver kicks off the druggies and non-payers!

Funny they have it listed on their schedule to only take 10-15 minutes depending on the time of day from the West Cordova stop to the island. Not that bad. I've only taken it once - going the other way. And it did in fact only take about 12 minutes. :smile:

On the question of if a local discount program would bring locals in...Definitely! Will it bring people that shop sometimes there a bit more often? Probably.

If they charged an upfront fee for the card those that bought it would definitely come back more often! :smile:

The delivery idea is an interesting one. Vancouver in general is a bit behind other major cities on delivery. We have Stongs and HCGets, but what else?

Cheers!

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Here's a link the Granville Island web site with contact information should any of you be inspired to send in some recommendations: (click for link)

There's also a Granville Island Business and Community Association contact link there.

Keep the suggestions coming.


Cheers,

Anne

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We do a fair amount of shopping at GIM, but the hours are an issue for us. Staying open to 7 or 8, even just a few days a week, would win all our fresh food business (i.e. veggies, bread, meat and fish).

Parking isn't that much of an issue for us. We've always been able to find a space in the parking garage beside the Emily Carr Institute, even on a summer Saturday. On nice days, we'll park under the Cambie Street bridge and use the Aqua Bus and avoid having to wait in the traffic line up.

I'm not a price shopper, but I've never felt like I wasn't getting good value for my money. A discount card for locals is a great idea, however.


Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

www.leecarney.com

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I noted that Alan and Betty-Ann Lee (of Mr. Lee's Donuts) was pictured in the piece. His plight re longer opening hours may be the most dramatic as I would imagine that he sells the prepoderance of his (excellent) product earlier in the day.

But wouldn't it be smarter to open and close an hour later, i.e. 9am to 7pm? Those tenants who want to, could still have flex-hours--many locals know to go before 'official' opening anyway.

First--what works:

Granville Island is defined in some respects by what it is not, especially the vision to not allow fashion (other than Island-grown) and souvenirs onto the Island, unlike many of the festival marketplaces in the U.S. GI is really a superb example of mixed-use commercial/retail. The $1800 sales per square foot supports this. Conversely, it's only natural to see enhanced competition via Caper's, Nestor's, Urban Fair, Meinhardt's and T & T swipe some of GI's early thunder. Interestingly, because GI extols locality, it operates at a slight disadvantage.

Second--what needs improvement:

If I were a tourist in Vancouver, I'd be fairly loathe to drag a salmon back to my hotel room. That's why I think that an expanded VQA store, more packaged goods (the 'Best of BC'), and other in-hotel and takeaway treats would be a sound way to amplify sales.

Is the Best of BC represented at GI? For the most part, it gets pretty close, especially on summer Farmer's Market mornings. Oyama, Terra, The Stock Market, Lee's, Longliner, and several of the produce markets are certainly as good as it gets and strong pulls for locals. But there is ample room to draw more high quality specialist provisioners and I hope that the GI Trust and management look at this.

GI, and the market in particular, do require a facelift, a brightening. Although it's far from run down, there is a slightly tired look. A shutdown and speedy, well-planned refresh next January, with rent forgiveness, wouldn't be out of order.

Next, the restaurants. They are, for the most part, tourist-friendly, but again, there are none that are in the Best of BC category. It would be terrific to see a cold seafood bar in the market, like the Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco, and you might second guess why Go Fish! had to locate off campus.

In summary, GI is certainly not broken, but it could do with a little fixing. The longago vision for it was exemplary, and let's trust it continues to prosper. I look forward to hearing your further thoughts.


from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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An extra hour one or two days a week would mean that I could (and would) go during the week sometimes. As it is, I usually only do involved cooking on the weekend, as that's when I have the energy, and that's when I make a point to go, but every now and then, esp in the summer, I do want to cook something that requires the good butcher, good fish, whatever, and right now that means I end up going to Urban Fare and spending my monthly strata fee on dinner :hmmm: I didn't actually realize they were open till 6! I could probably aquabus my way over and avoid rush hour traffic...

You know what would be awesome? no tourists until ten or noon on one weekend day so we could get in, shop and get out, if that's what we like to do. (I know, impractical, mean-spirited and unenforceable :raz:)

I usually have a parking horseshoe (knock wood) but good GOD last weekend it took me literally half an hour to get from W 4th Ave to the food market, traffic was just not moving. My bad for going at like 1:00 pm, but sometimes it's unavoidable.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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I regularly go to the Market every weekend to pick up the bulk of my groceries, but there's always something that I missed, or something I just didn't think about until I find myself craving it during the week. So I usually find myself stopping to pick up one or two items most evenings.

Adjusting their hours even by just an hour at the end of the day would be a big improvement. Officially, I get off work at 5. In reality? I rarely leave the office before 5:30. When I'm working downtown, that means if I need to pick something up that evening, I have to go to IGA or Capers. If the market were open 'til 7, I'd definitely make it a regular stop on my way home.


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Having lived within a 10 minute walk of the Market since it's inception I've seen it slowly go downhill and I honestly don't think there's any solution that will bring back the energy and novelty that permeated the place back in the 80's.

The Green Grocers on W Broadway have wiped the floor with GI Market Merchants and as mentioned many others are in the game as well.

Market aside the Island as a whole is shabbily run-the original theme of marine based businesses long ago gave way to tourist tat and worse. :raz:

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I dunno ... have you been in the Granville Island Public Market lately? Have you been stuck behind the line-up of tour buses as they turn at the GI Brewery? Have you tried to "nip" into the Market for a bit on confit from Oyama on a Saturday afternoon and ended up taking an hour? Face it, the Market, and the rest of the Island for that matter, has been handed over to the tourists and the vendors are making money hand over fist. Nothing's going to be fixed because nothing's broken as far as they're concerned.

I agree the parking's a bitch ... that's why I usually leave it to the tourists. I'll park off Island and walk in unless I can get there first thing in the AM. If you want to get things from the Market, get there early. Most places will put aside something for you if you call the order in. But like Sam said, there are many, better options off Island.

A.

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The market is very political and if the vendors have a voice, which they do, absolutely nothing will change to make the market more appealing to locals.

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I feel a little nervous about responding here, but I feel totally compelled to.

It has been interesting to read all of your responses. I work on Granville Island and I have for almost 6 years. I don't own a store, so I don't have a bias that way and I am leaving the market before the end of the year, so I don't care about having to work late hours. I would like to give a view from the other side of the fence.

I'll circumvent the politics; there is lots of it and from all sides.

How many of you would really shop there if it was open one hour later? I work right to close and there is hardly anybody in there for the last hour (by the way, we even serve people AFTER 6, no going home early for us). I suspect that the issues of parking and too many tourists would still get in the way. Come in the morning; 80% of the places in there are open by 8 am.

Opening later would change the dynamic of the market. Those of you who shop there know that there are a lot of craft vendors in the market. They run their tables singlehanded from 8 or 9 until 6. An extension of the hours would be a challenge for them. Already, several pulled out this winter due to... politics.

As for the other small businesses, you have a staff of 3 on at once, you are probably operating at a loss for that extra hour. We already do for the last hour before close in the winter.

I would dearly love to see the island become less of a tourist trap. I really, really love the locals who shop in the market, and I wish I could see more of them. I don't think there will be a way to make this work for everybody.

And I know that stuff is a little overpriced ( I have been known to blush when quoting a price), but that is the cost of doing business. It is not cheap to have a spot in that little market. You think the vendors make money hand over fist??? Check with CMHC, how much money THEY are making...

Alright, I am drifting into politics. Slap on the wrist for me.

I am going to shut up now. I hope I haven't stepped on any toes or crossed any lines of confidentiality. I hope the late hours work, because they are going to happen.

edited for clarity..


Edited by Kayaksoup (log)

< Linda >

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I've found this discussion fascinating, and I hope you Vancouverites (Vancouvereans? Please educate me) don't mind a Philadelphian sticking his two cents in.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I'm a regular (at least once a week, usually twice) shopper at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market (RTM), and it's very much like the Granville Island Market in that (1) the hours are limited, and (2) the merchants have a large say, naturally, in its operation.

In the RTM's case the hours are Mon-Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., except for the Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) merchants, who are there on Wednesday from 8 'til 3 and Thurs.-Sat. 'til 6 p.m. That said, most of the merchants start closing up at 5:30 p.m.

Philadelphia has one of the largest residential downtowns in North America, yet, the market merchants refuse to stay open later. And if the market ever extended its hours to Sundays, the Amish merchants would not only not show up on Sunday, they've threatened to pull out altogether in protest.

The merchants themselves are an irrascable bunch, and trying to get them to change their ways and act in a more logical manner is like herding cats. I love them and what they purvey, but they sure don't make it easy to patronize them. A few of the more enlightened vendors (particularly the greengrocers) recognize that their real competition is Whole Foods (a.k.a. Whole Paycheck) and similar urban/suburban chains, but they are unable to convince their colleagues that they are there to serve the customer, and the customer needs them to be open an hour or so later in the day.

As an aside, I've visited your fair city only once, about six or seven years ago, and I made it a point to visit Granville Island Market. While I'd be reluctant to give up all the pleasures of the Reading Terminal Market, GIM would go a long way to easing the transition. It's a lovely amenity for a lovely city.


Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Parking is the big issue. The excessive crowd is another.

I usually go by bike during the off peak times. I would consider shopping at GIM more even if the hours were extended. But I think it would do well for tourism in the summer.

I think NOT allowing cars in GIM is an option with the exception of delivery, handicap, buses, etc. which should be allowed only in certain parts of the island.

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From living in a couple of other cities - I think that compared to other city's attempts at a public markets (just look at grubby public markets in the GVRD) - GI does work as a real market. I think to a large degree - GI is a victim of it's own success. Other's have carried the 'local' and 'fresh' mantra to more convienent locales. Getting into the island whenever the weather is remotely nice is a logisitcal nightmare. And there aren't alot of compelling reasons for me to brave going to the Market. Though Oyama, the Lobster Man, and few others make it worth going all on there own.

How to make me go more often? I don't know - I live very close by Whole Foods and even their goods are cheaper than GI. It needs to reconnect with the local shopper again. Unfortunately - it's physical isolation and turned into a mental one for me (out of sight, out of mind).

That being said - more than a few of us listed GI as a culinary tipping point for our city. I learnt alot about food during weekend visits as I was growing up. I was there this past xmas on a quick walkaround - and it was pretty nice with the holly and evergreen boughs on sale. Definitely something worth making better.

The commentary about politics is interesting - I wish someone would I elaborate as I am pretty niave about it all.

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Parking is the big issue.  The excessive crowd is another.

I usually go by bike during the off peak times.  I would consider shopping at GIM more even if the hours were extended.  But I think it would do well for tourism in the summer. 

I think NOT allowing cars in GIM is an option with the exception of delivery, handicap, buses, etc. which should be allowed only in certain parts of the island.

I am sympathetic to the no car idea, but honestly, I normally shop alone, and if I'm buying a chicken and some wine and stuff like that, never mind the vegetables, there's no way I physically can or perhaps more accurately, would, shop there if I had to walk. If I'm hefting stuff like that, often I drop stuff in the car and go back for more. And then I tend to do all my car/heavy item shopping at once so I'm not driving around all the time, making GIM one stop among many. So I hope they don't put the kibosh on cars, because that would curtail my shopping there like little else...I'd be reduced to browsing for stuff with the tourists, not doing a few meals' worth of shopping.


Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Having lived within a 10 minute walk of the Market since it's inception I've seen it slowly go downhill and I honestly don't think there's any solution that will bring back the energy and novelty that permeated the place back in the 80's.

The Green Grocers on W Broadway have wiped the floor with GI Market Merchants and as mentioned many others are in the game as well.

Market aside the Island as a whole is shabbily run-the original theme of marine based businesses long ago gave way to tourist tat and worse.  :raz:

What would you do to improve Granville Island, Sam?

What are the examples of the "tourist tat and worse" that you mention?


Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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...great thread...I recollect being in Vancouver for the first week-end GI was open.

We don't go very often anymore, usually ending up at Lonsdale Quay for its smaller version as we stay on the north shore.

Please don't ban the tourists...we would miss the wild life...watching the rats scamper amongst the rocks behind, below and around unsuspecting people sitting out on the benches

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Parking is the big issue.  The excessive crowd is another.

I usually go by bike during the off peak times.  I would consider shopping at GIM more even if the hours were extended.  But I think it would do well for tourism in the summer. 

I think NOT allowing cars in GIM is an option with the exception of delivery, handicap, buses, etc. which should be allowed only in certain parts of the island.

I believe that disallowing cars on Granville Island would quickly prove its death knell--it would quickly assume characteristics of the Granville Mall, the greatest urban planning disaster in the city's history. And given the circular drive on the island, I don't think partial vehicular access is an option either. Personally, I've never had to wait more than 7 or 8 minutes for a spot, even at prime time--and, for this Scotsman at least, it's free.

And we all know about Canadians and line-ups. If there weren't any, we wouldn't go there, much like an empty restaurant.


from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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