b33r community – Tuck Shoppe - 2017/01/25

The idea of a tuck shop conjures up visions of cute neighbourhood stores filled with candy, small provisions, and smiling counter staff. It’s the stirring memory of sleep-away camp or family vacations spent by the lake, when the only problem was finding enough money to buy that second chocolate bar.

Vancouver’s The Tuck Shoppe pays homage to this old-school establishment, giving it a respectfully modern twist. Opened in February 2016, this sweet little Chinatown shop offers up sandwiches, salads, snacks, and craft beer, along with the more typical tuck shop goods like marbles and light bulbs—even Pez dispensers. “To us there was no better name to represent what we are trying to achieve with our concept than The Tuck Shoppe,” says Adam Merpaw, who co-owns the place with Zach Buckman. “We both have great memories in our respective childhoods of a simpler time hanging out in the backcountry and summer camp, scrounging up enough money to go to the local tuck shop to buy candy or other indulgences. Now we have The Tuck Shoppe, which really panders to this simpler time by having a small menu with adult indulgences of sandwiches and beer. And, of course, we do have a candy wall.”

The modest, bright space is full of charming details, from coloured varsity flags on one wall to the antique red canoe that hangs from the ceiling. Small tables line the left side, situated close enough together that they give the space a faint summer camp mess hall vibe—but instead of questionable sloppy Joes, The Tuck Shoppe serves delicious gourmet sandwiches. They keep things as local as possible, getting their bread delivered fresh daily from local purveyors Mix The Bakery and La Baguette; their beef is naturally raised at 63 Acres farms in Southern B.C., and all of their menu’s seafood is Ocean Wise and sourced locally.

The Pork Belly Cubano sandwich has been the top seller since day one: layered with slow-cooked pork belly from Johnston’s in Chilliwack, along with Swiss cheese, ham, housemade pickles, mustard, and mayonnaise in between soft and chewy slices of bread, it’s a salty, flavourful treat. Another classic sandwich is the French Onion Dip, with 24-hour beef brisket, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, freshly grated horseradish, and a side of onion jus for dipping. Merpaw loves pairing the French Onion with 33 Acres of Ocean. “The caramelized sweetness from the onions and nasal sharpness from the horseradish get complimented by hop and caramel flavour of the beer,” he says. “Match made in heaven.” Served with a side of Maple Ridge’s Hardbite Potato Chips and a pickle slice, these sandwich meals are at once nostalgic and contemporary.

All in all, The Tuck Shoppe is about evoking that warm-and-fuzzy sentimentality—a concept that could easily tip over into being cheesy, but one that The Tuck Shoppe handles with elegance and sincerity. “Our concept really hinges on bringing back some of those nostalgic memories and also creating new ones by hanging out in a cool spot with friends and family,” says Merpaw. It’s genuine, it’s playful, it’s full of character. And just like those summer days spent gathering coins to buy candy, it’s that sneaking anticipation of good things to come.

On Success, On Failure - 2017/01/25

Guest Article
Written by Jordan Menashy, Co-Founder & VP of Marketing at Bench / @JordanMenashy

Failure can be seen as something admirable. It means you were willing to take the chance to try to do something truly great. When you look at it through that lens, failure just becomes part of the journey to doing something wonderful.

The question is, how do you have the same amount of confidence, and how can you be just as whole with yourself, in the times when you’re the most successful as the times where you’re the least? When you think about that, you have to realize that success can’t be something you externalize. The way to be okay with failure is to be at a place where you truly believe that you are taking the steps to be the person who you want to be. If you can wake up every day and know that the actions you take are congruent with that, then there’s nothing that can happen outside of you that can ever change the way you feel about yourself. So success and failure need to start from the inside, and if you can be whole with that, then anything else that happens is just life. Often times we talk about failure that happens outside of you, when in fact real failure is any time you aren’t harmonious with who you want to be as a person.

At Bench, I don’t gauge success by our staff headcount or money we have raised—all of that would be meaningless if not for the joy we get from the people we work with. The projects I get to bear witness to, the depth of friendships that are made, and the impact that has in people’s lives outside the company walls, make our growth worthy of pursuing. Bench then becomes this community of wonderful and talented people who get to work together towards a common goal—but in that work, also get to inspire and invigorate each other so they can then take that energy and pour it out into the rest of their world. That’s the kind of thing I want to be part of because it follows the person I desire to be. That’s how I commit wholeheartedly to this journey, irrespective of its ups and downs.

Decide who you want to be as a person, be that person, and then go try to do great things in the world. You’ll have nothing to lose and yourself to gain. 3ND

Growth Cycle - 2017/01/04

Victory Gardens – victorygardensvancouver.ca
Written by Katie Nanton

Just off Main Street in East Vancouver there is a garden planted a little bit differently than most in the city, tangled up in an organized chaos that only well-kept plots pull off gracefully. Framed within four-by-six-foot beds, abundant garlic grows beside deep green leaves of arugula, kale, and watercress; beets and carrots germinate in soil shared by cucumbers, jalapeños, and bright constellations of baby tomatoes. The heat of summer encourages strawberries and raspberries to ripen nearby, while the autumn months will see pumpkins push out of the earth alongside knotted heads of cauliflower. In another section there is an expansive lavender patch—“for my bees,” says Lisa Giroday, who owns the home garden with her family. “Oh, I also have an ornamental garden,” adds the bespectacled Giroday, not missing a beat. “And I use that term quite loosely, because they are all pollinator-friendly or medicinal plants.” Then she’s off again, remembering another far-off corner of her verdant green space that burgeons with organic bounty all year long.

Giroday is co-owner of Vancouver’s beloved urban gardening co-operative Victory Gardens, alongside Sam Philips and Maxim Winther; they also have three employees and a smattering of dedicated volunteers. Since 2012, the business has grown as sturdily as the gardens it helps foster. Now, in the thick of its fifth growing season, Victory Gardens has managed to stay true to its vision, and slogan: “We help you grow food!”

Named for the historic plots of the same moniker, Victory Gardens is emblematic of old becoming new again. “In the earlier days of the company,” says Giroday, “we were primarily servicing the converted; you know, the folks that were already living a healthy lifestyle that was in keeping with low-impact sustainable consumption.” Now, she explains, the movement toward consuming good food is becoming a part of our collective discourse. “We aren’t typically explaining why it is important to consume organically,” she says. “We’re showing [our clients] how to use their own urban space a little bit differently.”

Residential customers still make up the majority of Victory Gardens’ business—mostly in Vancouver, and also in North Vancouver, Richmond, and Burnaby—but its community stretches far beyond the reaches of private gardens. This year, the company launched a Classroom Gardener program in a Burnaby elementary school that teaches kids how to grow their own produce, and, in turn, empowers them to get excited about food. “They love it—kids love getting dirty, and they’re really intuitive in the garden,” says Giroday. “The kids were fighting over who got to eat the pak choi the other day.”

The seeds of Victory Gardens’ network have scattered far due to a common love. “What’s cool is, because we are not technically urban farmers—as in, we don’t produce and then sell food—but we do share a lot of their values and aspirations, we have been able to build our community with them,” Giroday says. Local love is naturally omnipresent in the Victory Gardens game plan, and past collaborations have included cedar garden boxes with Union Wood Company and overalls with local designer Glasnost. Like a fast-growing crop, the Victory Gardens system spills over borders, too, and even Portland-based magazine Kinfolk has brought them on board as a city sponsor to host Vancouver events.

This year, Giroday also saw the addition of a new program for restaurants called Sky High Farm Subscription. For this, the company has been generously loaned a Vancouver rooftop planting area that is large enough for its needs. While it’s difficult to look at our quickly densifying city of glass and imagine much extra space to grow food, Giroday has a different perspective. “[The rooftops] get so much light, so much rain… and they are totally marginalized,” she says. “We never see them, never touch them.”

And so, the Victory Gardens team will continue forging growth in spaces of every shape and size across the city, building a community around local food production. After all, as Giroday asserts, “there is no space too small to grow in.” 3ND