Now that I’m all caught up on getting ready for the Christmas holidays,
I wanted to share a story about a lovely little store I visited while doing some last minute
shopping. It’s called Blue Owl, located at the corner of West Broadway and Vine here in Vancouver.
As I was browsing through the store, I had a wonderful conversation with Amanda, (the owner).
She filled me in on interesting facts not only about what her store has to offer but a little
history about the heritage building Blue Owl is located in. Here is Amanda’s story about Blue Owl …..
My grandfather (born in the late 1800s) owned a drive-in diner on Burrard at 2nd (now a PetroCan)
in the 40s & 50s called the Blue Owl. He saved up and bought this 1911 built building,
“The Connaught”, in 1958. My dad (66 years old) has been lovingly maintaining and restoring
the building since he was 14. Me and my 5 brothers and sisters have all been brought up very
involved with the building…… like it’s a second home !! We have all lived there and worked on it
at some point in our lives…. from polishing brass to choosing tenants to doing the bookkeeping.
There is always a big discussion between all of us when there is a decision to be made, like
choosing a paint colour, which light fixtures to use, or what finishing touches would look best
and be truest to the building. My huge family knows and loves every square inch of this place.
The building has heart, no doubt and it’s like a community in itself.
For me to move into this commercial space feels like its supposed to be this way. Like I said,
it feels like I’m at home and my entire family is involved. It has been something my family has
been talking about for years and I’ve wanted to do this with my sisters, for 10 of those years.
I feel like the happiest, luckiest person to be able to do my dream job in my family’s building
with all of my family involved. My dad is constantly helping in some way, whether its
teaching me how to restore or fix things properly or hanging light fixtures or picking
up new finds. And my mom takes care of all of the antique linens, makes amazing cushions
and babysits so my sisters can work here as well as a million other things. My three sisters
(Kelly, Jennifer and Tiffany) do a lot of everything with me. For one, we bounce ideas off each
other all the time. They also help rework furniture, rearrange the store, work in the store with
customers and most importantly, they give their opinions. Even my sisters’ husbands help out.
My brother -in-law Tonio is a Restorer of Art and Antiquities in Italy and when he’s in Vancouver
he does the most meticulous mends on some of my most loved items, using old world
techniques. When my brother-in-law Tom is in town, he helps me with the heavy duty lifting,
carpentry and generally creates an easy-going and fun environment. And Johnny,
my other brother-in-law takes care of all of my computer and technology nightmares, thank god!
As for how I find the things I sell, I am on the hunt all of the time. It sounds silly, but I
choose things solely based on my emotional response. If it moves me, I buy it. Its more
of an emotional, intuitive process than anything else. And I like things that can create a bit
of a fantasy or story, and I find this comes easily with previously loved items, like a lovingly
mended, handmade apron, or a well-worn chair, for example.
As you can see why I love Blue Owl, not only is it a beautiful store, full of goodies for the home, it’s got a wonderful history too.