Vancouver and the Value Village Circuit

Vancouver is an interesting quandry when it comes to collecting for me.  Do I want to make a trip into town on the off chance that I might find something?  It usually a fruitless search but the occasional find plants a seed of doubt in my mind.  I try to rationalize such trips by tacking it on to something else:  A visit to an art exhibit at UBC, picking up a Sunday afternoon shift at one of our western library branches, or in this case, doing a partial Value Village circuit.  My intentions are to always get to the antique shows at the Croatian Cultural Centre as it opens but true to form, I got there half an hour later than I intended (due to a combination of stopping at the bank, grabbing a coffee, and the distractions of cute cat videos on the internet)

I found adequate parking, entered and muscled my way through the first room of antique vendors.  The show organizers cram as many tables as humanly possible into the venue, leaving little room for the shoppers to maneuver.  Its like a game of Pac Man, avoiding people and looking for a clear path between the tables, and trying to get down every aisle.  I was surprised that I actually found two treasures.


A dinner plate from the St. Francis Hotel, which was located in downtown Vancouver across the street from the current Waterfront Skytrain Station and Seabus Terminal (formerly the CPR station.  The envelope is from Buscombe & Co, the company that imported the plate from England.  Follow the above link for more information about the hotel!

I purchased both items from fellow members of the Fraser Valley Antiques and Collectibles Club, and I was very glad to get them.  If this was the only find of the day, I would have been satisfied.  Although I didn’t need anything else to justify the trip, there were multiple Value Villages beckoning.  The first one I went to is south of the Croatian Cultural Centre on Victoria Drive, and is often more trouble than its worth.  I had to go around the block twice to find parking, and there were no collectible treasures to be found.  But anything for the collection would be gravy on top, because I was really searching for things that I could resell on ebay.  To fund my collection, home repairs, and holidays, I buy and flip thrift store stuff.  Its mainly designer jeans from Diesel, but I also will do True Religion and 7 For All Mankind.  I found a couple pairs of jeans, spotted some Lego in a display case that was missing all the mini figures, and saw some interesting folk.  When I was checking out the Lego, there were two women at the checkout taking their sweet time.  But they were wearing furry costumes, but without the heads.  There was no good opportunity to take a picture, but though it was odd, I support their personal expression.

After leaving the store on Victoria Drive, I headed back to Grandview Highway and to the Transcanada to go to the Value Village on United Boulevard in Coquitlam.  I had way better luck with the parking situation there, and was able to enter the store promptly.  I started my circuit of the store at the jewellery cases, and seeing no cufflinks, I started zig zagging through the housewares.  I searched the dishes down the aisle from bottom to the top, and when I reached the very end on the top of the shelf, I saw the telltale sign of a stack of hotelware:  Thicker rounded edges.  Since they were on the top shelf, I couldn’t see if they were a stock pattern which I have seen a lot of at this location.  I reached up, pulled them down, and the shock at what I found was matched only by the sticker price:  Six Western Canada Steamship Company side plates for $12.99!


Western Canada Steamship Company plates in the basket that barely rolled.

I would have paid more for a single plate, and was over the moon.  I like to use this pattern when I have people over for dinner, and I have quite a few place settings.  Dishes from WCSSCo were much more common a few years ago, but the supply has dried up.  When I first started collecting, I found a cereal bowl at the Maple Ridge Value Village which got me interested in the pattern, and I later picked up a box full of the dishes at an antique show.  I’m very lucky to have found these.  Of course I hoped to find more and scoured the shelves to no avail.  I tracked down a rolling shopping basket that still had partial functioning of the wheels (also a Value Village rarity, where the basket wheels are more lint than wheel).  The rest of the store was a bust, so it was on to the next stores.

I ended up visiting three more: Two more in Coquitlam (North Road and Lougheed Hwy) and Maple Ridge.  I bought an assortment of jeans, a book, and a Scene It Marvel boardgame that will end up on ebay before the Christmas rush is over.  Maple Ridge had the added bonus of running into a colleague from the Pitt Meadows Library whon I don’t often see anymore since I am full time in Clearbrook.  All in all, it was one of the most successful and exciting trips that I’ve been on to the thrift stores.  As I write this, I’m on the ferry to Nanaimo where I will hopefully find more treasures before I head down the Island for a three night stay in Victoria.


This shows the pricing difference between stores.  $9.99 for a modern Vancouver Club cup and saucer.  This was spotted at the Value Village on North Road where an older fellow was also seen walking around wearing a Mexican poncho.


Vancouver Island: Day One

After my marathon trip to the Interior, I had half a day at home to run errands before an upcoming cruise the following Saturday.  Every year there is an antique show in Duncan, BC on Vancouver Island that I like to attend and visit some of the local antique malls and thrift shops to find more hotelware pieces.  I woke up at 5:30 AM and was on the road to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal to catch the 7:45 AM sailing to Nanaimo, a two hour journey.  While driving through Langley, I saw the digital ferry information display showing how full the sailings were.  I saw forty minutes away, and the ferry was already 80% full!  I booked it the rest of the way, and ended up just barely squeaking on to the ferry.  The sailing was uneventful, and I found myself at the Nanaimo Value Village at about 10:30 AM.


My bug encrusted car.


No hotelware at this Value Village, but I found a rather nice midcentury modern landscape painting and a pair of cufflinks.  You can’t see it in the picture but the price on the painting was $14.99.

After Nanaimo, I headed north to Parksville to a church thrift store that I’ve had really good luck at before, and found a single bowl.  This was a fortuitous find, since a red version of the same bowl brought be such good luck on the last trip!  I stopped at two other stores in Parksville before heading to Coombs, and the antique stores there.  The power of the bowl held true, and I found four pieces, and two more pairs of cufflinks!


Thrift store action shot!


Alligator head fiercely guarding a Hotel Manitoba plate.  The hotel building still stands in Gastown.

In addition to the Hotel Manitoba plate, I also picked up a creamer in a stock pattern that was used on Union Steamship Company vessels as well as two side plates from the Western Canada Steamship Company (WCSC).  WCSC operated out of Vancouver, and used surplus ships that were purchased from the Canadian government after the Second World War.


Here is one of the WCSC plates.  The store owner didn’t know what line they were from, and I said that for a discount I would reveal all!  I was just joking, but she gave me $2 off each, along with small discounts on the other dishes.

After visiting another store that sold some vintage stuff and soap (I bought three bars), I headed to Qualicum Beach, where I struck out at both the thrift and antique stores.  I’m writing this in the Parksville McDonald’s and using their terrible Wifi before I head to my campsite at Brannan Lake!  Tomorrow I will go south of Nanaimo, and visit Ladysmith, Chemainus, and end in Duncan at the antique show!


My campsite at Brannen Lake in Nanaimo.


No tent for me!  This is why I wanted a station wagon.