he owners of Brick and Mortar Living, a chic and charming new Tdowntown store, were drawn to New West by the factor that seems to be luring more and more Vancourites this way: affordability.
Twenty-seven-year-old Julie Dewhurst and her younger sister Emma Nash, 22, opened their store at 42 Begbie St. in June, after looking for months for a retail space they could afford in Vancouver.
"We stopped looking and thought maybe this isn't going to work right now," Dewhurt says. "It just wasn't really feasible with our budget."
The sisters almost gave up, but then they got the "perfect" space in New West, complete with high ceilings and double windows.
"We fell in love with the space," Dewhurst says.
Plus, they didn't mind being in New West.
"I've always loved New West - the old-school feel of it," she says.
They were also surprised and pleased with the reception they've had from locals.
"People are so friendly," Nash says. "When we opened, we were just blown away."
The sisters say they couldn't have opened without the help of their mom, Jennifer Pistone. Growing up, she was a "huge" influence on the sisters, as most of their childhood it was just the three of them.
Dewhurst dreamed of opening her own store "ever since I started in retail at 16," she says.
"Throughout my life, I always ended up working for women who started their own stores," she adds, which only inspired her more.
The sisters are among a growing group of owner-operated stores that are carving out a home in downtown New West. The area continues to grow with condo developments cropping up, the Plaza 88 development, the re-vamped River Market and the city's new civic centre, which is currently being built.
"I think we arrived a good time," Dewhurst says.
They are happy to have their store in the area, though they acknowledge that their Begbie Street location is a little off the beaten path.
That fact has prompted Dewhurst to focus on raising awareness about Brick and Mortar Living through social media, which has helped lure in customers.
They also note that one of the biggest draws has been word-of-mouth advertising from local customers who come in, shop and then tell their friends. More than 150 people attended their grand opening, the sisters say.
And it's little surprise that people have found their way.
Brick and Mortar Living is chock-full of unique goods, including jewelry, house decor, gifts, men's ties, trinkets, wedding goods and art. They even carry their mom and their grandma's original artwork and greeting cards that Dewhurst makes herself.
Many of the products are locally sourced from around British Columbia. Nash estimates about 95 per cent of the goods are local. They also offer uniquely themed takes on vintage goods.
Brick and Mortar sells what the sisters call "re-imagined" vintage. These are vintage pieces that are turned into something new, Nash explains. Examples include vintage silver spoons with imprinted messages. They also have "re-discovered" vintage - charming character pieces, like retro suitcases in mid-century muted greens and blues, that the sisters say are very popular.
To see all Brick and Mortar Living has to offer, visit the store at 42 Begbie St. Or check out the Facebook page at www. facebook.com/brickandmortarliving.