Before you start with the hipster jokes (how many hipsters does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Four: one to screw in the bulb and three to write an angsty ballad for piano, drums and banjo), allow me this disclaimer: I love a pair of skinny jeans on the right pair of skinny legs. And inked women make me question my position as a perfect Kinsey six.
More than hipsters, Main Street boasts more space for less money, especially if you look to the pre-leaky-condo low-rises that sprinkle the neighbourhood and avoid the shiny new shoeboxes spreading with viral tenacity.
Café culture is, of course, varied and thriving, from the vegetarian Foundation (2301 Main St), to 49th Parallel, home of Lucky’s Doughnuts (Main & 13th), to back-with-a-vengeance-after-the-big-fire Slickity Jim’s (3475 Main St).
Does retro grooming make your mustache twitch with delight? Then welcome to Mount Pleasant, where every month is Movember.
A typical Main Street scene.
Uptown Barbers (2341 Main St) has been a training ground for many a young barber, like Dustin Fishbook, who opened the irony-riddled Belmont Studio around the corner (111 E Broadway). Here, a hot-towel shave will cost you $25 or $35. “The more dangerous the implement used, the more expensive the shave,” says the aptly named apprentice barber Matt Savage.
But what keeps bringing me back to Main Street is the shopping. The assemblage of clothing and furniture stores, both vintage and consignment, along with blocks and blocks of designer-owned and -operated boutiques is the perfect tonic to mallscapes like Robson Street.
Stephanie Ostler’s eclectic emporium, Devil May Wear (3995 Main St), is a regular stop for Vancouver’s burlesque (and boylesque) crowd. Her line of frilled and crenellated unmentionables includes men’s bloomered boxer briefs! Try those out at the next Black & Blue party — I dare you.
Motherland (3647 Main St) boasts an 80-percent locally designed and built men’s line, while at Eugene Choo (3683 Main St), the local and international unisex designs rub shoulders with limited-edition prints that marry graphic wildlife design with vintage National Geographic–inspired text by Banquet Atelier.
Led by their eponymous and iconoclastic matriarch, the crew at Burcu’s Angels (221 16th Ave E, at Main) has a curative passion about vintage wear that verges on therapeutic. Indeed, many a baby drag queen has found her footing — and her footwear — under the guidance of these Angels.
Consistently providing one of the best window displays in the ’hood, Jann Purcell describes her Bohemia Gallery (3243 Main St) as “boho chic meets retro crazy.” Bohemia occupies 3,000 square feet on two levels and is responsible for fully three-quarters of my funkiest footwear.
Nestled amid the fashion, you’ll also find some of Vancouver’s best secondhand furniture. The Sellution (3206 Main St) is a Vancouver stalwart and offers the broadest interpretation of vintage. (Full disclosure: I’ve worked there off and on for five years, so I may be a little biased. I also have one of the most fabulously and tastefully appointed bachelor pads in all the West End, thanks to this store!)
Down the hill, you can slip into mid-century-to-’80s-retro bliss at Your Fabulous Find and its neighbour ReFind (1853 and 1849 Main St, respectively, though Fab Find is temporarily closed for building repairs). These guys have an iconoclastic view of retail that must be experienced to be appreciated!