October, 2015


    October 30, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield


    Pop-up shops are quite noticeable this time of year, with Halloween stores scattered throughout Greater Victoria, rolling in like they’re a bunch of carnies, and disappearing behind a mysterious smoke bomb like they were never there.

    Retailers of every kind use pop-ups to either hold a large, short-term sale, take advantage of a peak season, or try out a new area (or first ever area) to see if it’s a viable, permanent decision. Food trucks can even be considered a pop-up before committing to a stationary restaurant. There’s nothing worse than signing a long lease only to find out the market isn’t there.


    Piña Art + Clothing just opened on October 10th at 640 Yates Street and runs until December 30th, just in time for holiday shoppers. This boutique shop has been selling local art, clothing and jewellery since 2007 in Ucluelet (Ukee) and has a second store in Tofino (You may have also seen them at Pemberton and Squamish Music Festivals). They recently held a pop-up in Vancouver, but this is the first time they’ve come to Victoria.

    image (1)

    Inside 640 Yates Street

    “A large percentage of our customers are from Victoria as our brand fits the west coast lifestyle which Victorians can relate to living so close to the ocean,” explained Jeni Christie, Victoria Store Manager. “Every aspect of Piña is unique; people travel from Victoria to the west coast just to shop at the Piña store. If we are successful we will probably open a shop in Victoria in the future; this is a bit of a test run to see if it is economically viable.”

    Angie Roussin, Owner of Piña, is also the main graphic artist. You’ll see her designs on all the clothing apparel and canvases, which are sourced from Vancouver. Everything from a mermaid playing a fiddle, to a bearded pineapple smoking a pipe and wearing aviators (“El Hefe” which is also their logo). It’s tough to categorize the style, but if I had to I’d say it’s “Nautical Earth-Punk”.

    “We try and buy locally as much as possible and it’s great because a lot of our product suppliers are friends,” commented Christie. “We sell Joleen Sohier Jewelry, Rainwater Soap and Candle Company, Ukee Toukee, Tomahawks Moc Co. and Jeni Mack Clothing. It’s great to work together and help each other grow.”

    In addition to using local suppliers, they also buy the products outright so there’s no consignment. This is huge for any small business.


    Pop-up shops aren’t a new concept, in fact, they’ve been in Victoria for over a decade (In the UK for even longer), but they are starting to become a very popular tactic as of late.

    In the summer of 2014, the Vancouver Island School of Art partnered with the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) and occupied 9 locations to display art during the summer. It added an experience to downtown strolls and even inspired an art gallery to lease the Broad Street location for over a year.

    She She Bags and Shoes are another example. They held a big sale in the old Levi’s space on Government right next door to them and had great success.

    Tatum & Olivia, local Sidney store, used the same space for a summer sale in August in order to get a little closer to their Victoria fans.

    Lotus was a pop-up shop that successfully turned into Migration and is now permanently doing business in the Bay Centre’s main level.

    Long-time pop-up shops in Victoria have also been tourist shops.

    The souvenir-filled stores swoop in during peak tourist season to optimize return on investment. The old Hemp & Co space on the north-west corner of Government and Fort was recently vacated by ‘Save on Souvenirs’’.


    “Pop-ups provide added animation to our downtown and a unique opportunity for innovation if you can find the property manager who shares your vision for doing something different in the marketplace,” stated Ken Kelly, General Manager of DVBA. “What we want to do is create an environment in which entrepreneurs automatically gravitate to downtown as their first priority for creating a business or a pop-up.”

    One of the tools the DVBA have created to support this is a website, InvestDowntownVictoria.ca. It provides a full range of information investing downtown, such as where people work, live, and stay when visiting downtown on a block-by-block basis, and even where people walk downtown.

    Did you know we have eight pedestrian counters throughout the city that track pedestrian flows in real time? Neither did I!

    The DVBA also has a partnership with Spacelist in which vacant retail and office space is listed, and it’s fed into the Invest Downtown site (Current commercial vacancy is 8-10%).

    If you’re an entrepreneur who’s been too timid to dive into the downtown pool, give it another thought. I mean, just look at the graphic below to see how many people are downtown every work day!

    If you’re a consumer who shops local as often as possible, keep your eyes peeled for fresh, new pop-ups and pay them a visit. They may be gone the next time you walk by!


    Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 11.35.21 AM

    Source: InvestDowntownVictoria.ca

  2. The Dark Side of Victoria

    October 23, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield


    Victoria is well known as one of Canada’s most haunted cities. Theories of why so many ghosts inhabit the area include:

    • The long period of human occupation, spanning 6,000 years from the arrival of the first aboriginal inhabitants
    • Cracks, or “ley lines”, in the earth’s surface beneath Victoria emit powerful magnetic energy that somehow attracts spirits and magnifies their presence
    • The surrounding salt water, the underlying bedrock, the distant hills and mountains that wrap around the region and the abundant natural springs all help retain ghostly energy.

    We were going to cover haunted areas of Victoria, but there isn’t much out there you haven’t already heard, so let’s talk about another dark secret of Victoria… the fact that it’s the
    Satanic Capital of the World

    Satanism is a broad term referring to a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs. Satanism includes symbolic association with, or admiration for, Satan, whom Satanists see as an inspiring and liberating figure. It was estimated that there were 50,000 Satanists in 1990, and there may now be as many as one hundred thousand Satanists in the world. The second largest gathering is in Geneve, Switzerland.

    The satanic culture could very well be rich in popularity here due to the abundance of spirits and paranormal activity, but satanism really grew larger after the bestseller “Michelle Remembers” was released in 1980, the first ever book on satanic ritual abuse.

    It’s based on Lawrence Pazder, who started treating Michelle Smith in 1973 at his private psychiatric practice in Victoria, BC.

    He uses hypnosis to help Michelle recover alleged memories of Satanic ritual abuse that occurred when she was five in the 50s at the hands of her mother.

    The book has been discredited by several investigations which found no corroboration of the book’s events, while others have pointed out that the events described in the book were extremely unlikely and in some cases impossible. There was an entire investigation conducted and the Bishop of Victoria at the time, Remi De Roo, was even brought into it.


    Whether or not the book is based on the wild imagination of one woman, it still opened the gates for Satanic followers to flock to the so-called city of flowers.

    It’s also rumoured that Victoria’s abundance of rabbits was a result of the “Order of Dragons” group attempting to breed a type of animal that would allow individuals with higher blood potency to feed off of them. They chose rabbits, set up a breeding program, and failed miserably. Doesn’t make them look so furry and cute anymore, does it?


    Another interesting satanism history point is the “Brethren War”. It was a conflict of various packs of the “Uratha” group for territory in North America that soon spiraled out of control. Many of the “Forsaken’s” oldest and strongest had fallen in a terrible struggle against potent spirit enemies, and the younger packs began to fight one another to claim the prize territories that the elders’ deaths had left unclaimed (Victoria). Stay with me, here’s where it gets interesting…

    The “Pure” group swept down on the Forsaken and executed a strategy that resulted in the worst winter Victoria had ever seen – over 120 cm of snow fell in 1996. It was a winter that was referred to as the storm of the century or the Blizzard of 96. It hasn’t been matched in its intensity since and leaves many locals with stories that start with “I remember it like it was yesterday…”


    There are signs that Satanic beliefs have become more socially tolerated. Satanism is now allowed in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite opposition from Christians, and in 2005, the Supreme Court of the United States debated over protecting the religious rights of prison inmates after a lawsuit challenging the issue was filed to them.

    So, if you didn’t already know this dark history, now you do, and we hope it inspires you to bring Halloween back to it’s dark, creepy and disturbing nature and tuck away that barely-there costume or made-from-a-bad-pun homemade ensemble. Well, we don’t want to discourage creativity, but try and jazz it up with some of our incredible local history!

    Explore our fine city and take in everything you can. Here’s a few things happening around town.

    • Wicked Victoria – Government street from Courtney to Yates
      Oct 25 only, The street will be transformed into “Boo Boulevard” with frightfully fun family activities on every block!
    • The Rocky Horror Show: Live at Metro Studio Theatre
      $30, Oct 23, 25, 28, 29, 30 | 8PM, OR Oct 24, 31 | 7PM and 10PM
    • Finger Eleven all ages Halloween Party – Mary Winspear Centre
      8pm on Oct 31, licensed and all ages, performance and costume party ($42)
    • Vancouver Island Corn Maze at Pendray Farms
      11am-9pm, goes until October 31.
    • Pumpkinfest at Galey Farms (in addition to festival of fear)
      (Featuring Galey’s Farm Corn Maze, Market & Railway)
      10am-4pm, Sat/Sun only, goes until Oct 31.
    • Spooky Seaside Cinema at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa
      6pm on the inner harbour side, Oct 30, 31
    • Nightmare at the Museum – Oct 31
      Sold out event, look on UsedVic for last minute available tickets
    • IFCon Victoria – Pearkes Arena
      Oct 31-Nov 1. Featuring the Smoking Man from the x-files!


  3. Robots and Explosions!!!

    October 16, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield


    Sorry, this post has nothing to do with robots and/or explosions, we just needed to get your attention…

    Monday, October 19th is Election Day.

    Two questions for you…


    If you received a voter information card in the mail, you’re registered to vote. You can also check online if you’ve moved to see if you’re registered and print out a certificate to make things faster at the polls.

    If you’re not registered, you can register at the polls on election day; just bring your government issued ID and proof of address. You can no longer change your address or register online as the deadline has passed, so just show up!


    Fear not, there are plenty of ways to brush up on your political knowledge in a jiffy to know where you stand. A great online tool to use is www.votecompass.com. Vote Compass shows you how your views align with those of the candidates running for election. It’s very unlikely you will agree 100% for any one party, instead you’ll find your views are spread amongst a few of the parties. It’s up to you to weigh what points matter the most to you and who to vote for in your district.


    “My vote won’t make a difference” is the most false statement out there. The last election is proof on it’s own; On May 2, 2011, Green Party leader Elizabeth May became the first elected Green Party MP to sit in the House of Commons. Up to that point many would say that voting for the Green Party was a wasted vote.

    5.8 million voters are between the ages of 18 and 30. 5.9 million voters elected our last government. Just think about that when you question whether or not your vote counts and get out there to make a difference!

    If you didn’t catch the B-Side on the Zone @ 91.3fm last week, here’s the clip below once again. Dan Gunn discusses that time he got into politics after Mardi Gras, the importance of voting and the awesome team at Vic Votes.

    The moral of the story is… GO VOTE!

  4. Vic Votes is on a mission to inspire youth to vote

    October 8, 2015 by Tessa Bousfield


    “Young people don’t vote and don’t care!”

    This might be a commonly heard message around voting time, but the Vic Votes team refuses to accept it, and have set out to inspire change this election.

    Vic Votes

    Vic Votes is a non-partisan voter advocacy group aimed squarely at youth.  Their mission for this federal election is to bring new voters to the polls, by focusing on facilitating in-person interactions between youth and the candidates.  Vic Votes holds events and draws attention to opportunties for young constituents to be introduced to those running for election, and to engage into dialogue that will hopefully ignite their passion for participating in the democratic process.

    Many other groups are doing fantastic work online and through social media to increase voter turnout.  Vic Votes has taken the lead on pursuing real-life activations, and is hoping to do their part to inspire a group notorious for not showing up to the polls to become engaged in this election.

    How did it start?

    Vic Votes is powered by it’s two founders – Kevin Ehman and Joel Hibbard – and their awesome team of volunteers.  Everyone involved with Vic Votes shares a passion for participatory democracy and being informed and engaged in the political process.  Kevin and Joel both grew up in families who talked politics around the dinner table and have always stayed engaged in all levels of government, but both felt a growing dissatisfaction with their generation’s lack of participation in politics.  

    The inspiration for Vic Votes struck the duo last fall during the civic elections in the CRD.  Kevin recalls, “We banded together to encourage our peers in the downtown retail/hospitality/creative/tech sectors to get out and make sure their voices were heard! And, to our somewhat surprise, it caught on and seemed to really connect. We held a candidates event at Sitka and the turnout and excitement by both those seeking office and youth was beyond our expectations.”

    The momentum behind Vic Votes has continued this year, with the big highlights being a chance to speak on the main stage during Rifflandia, and the candidates forum they held in early September which saw an unprecedented turnout!


    The Vic Votes message to potential voters is simple: “This is your chance to make your voice heard, and there’s absolutely a reason for you to vote. What’s important to you? Housing, education, healthcare, the environment? Find the candidate who most closely represents your views and cast your ballot accordingly.”

    What’s next?

    Vic Votes is placing their full focus on getting young voters to the polls on October 19th.  Following the election they will regroup, debrief and evaluate what can be done next.  Kevin says one of the most important aims is to “ensure [Vic Votes] leaves a legacy of tools and ideas for others across the country to use as a template if they want to undertake this kind of project in their own city or town.”

    More information?

    To find more information on Vic Votes and to see what they’re up to, head to the polls on October 19th!  … if you’d like to learn a little more before then, you can visit/follow them through their Website, Facebook and Instagram.

    You can also email any and all questions directly to Kevin and Joel – kevin@vicvotes.ca and joel@vicvotes.ca