The West Broadway Business Improvement Association (WBBIA) represents more than 300 businesses and property owners on West Broadway between Collingwood and Larch, in Vancouver, BC.
A BIA is Born –
It was back in 2011, that a group of West Broadway businesses submitted a proposal to municipal council to be designated as a Business Improvement Area (BIA). Through this designation, the business community would agree to join together to bring improvements to the area. All businesses were consulted and a special bylaw was passed. This was the beginning of the WBBIA.
A Star is Born–
(Well, actually, 70+ stars!)
Last month, the WBBIA launched its Stars on Broadway initiative to acknowledge and celebrate business owners who have been serving their community for 20 years or more. Some of The Flag Shop staff were in attendance at a special launch event, and were honoured to be a part of the celebration!
And, there’s a great deal to celebrate with over 70 long-time business owners operating storefronts on West Broadway! The vibrant and diverse neighbourhood is home to many businesses bound together by the WBBIA, to help create the fabric of the community which we enjoy today. With too many to list entirely, here’s a snapshot of WBBIA honourees:
Ace Cycles – Since 1946
Founded by Lorne Atkinson, Ace Cycles was born out of a love of cycling. For Lorne, being a celebrated cyclist and talented mechanic, it was a natural fit to take over an existing bike shop on West Broadway and make it his own. He loves the neighbourhood so much he even moved his family there. Says Lorne’s daughter Jan, “We all love the natural beauty and the welcoming neighbourhood.” A real family business, many Ace Cycles customers are not only first-, but second and third generation.
Finn’s On Broadway – Since 1952
For nearly 65 years, Finn’s on Broadway has been fitting men in quality clothing. Though the quality brands they carry have changed and evolved over the past decades, two things have remained: their commitment to quality and to providing excellent service.
The Sunshine Diner – Since 1970
This diner is rich with history, having originally been named Sunshine Cafe back in 1970. Today, “The Sunshine” remains in the heart of Kitsilano in Vancouver, – or what the owners like to call “home sweet home.” Owned by the Pantsios family for over 21 years, they are proud to serve quality ingredients while providing excellent service.
The Toybox – Since 1972
The Toybox has been a Kitsilano landmark for decades. “Kitsilano customers are perfect for the specialty retail business,” says, owner Gary Mussatto. “They tend to care more about the quality of products and less about what’s popular on television.” When the store moved across the street from its original location, it was transformed into a toy factory, complete with conveyor belts, painting and wrapping machines and even a secret tunnel.
Omega Travel – Since 1974
Nick Panos opened Omega Travel in the heart of Vancouver’s Greek town in Kitsilano. Initially established to help the members of the Hellenic community travel to Greece to spend the holidays with their families, Omega Travel has evolved over the last 40+ years to become one of Western Canada’s leading travel agencies. Nick is a founding and current Board member of the West Broadway BIA, a co-founder of Greek Day and serves as a long-standing member of the Hellenic Congress of BC.
Bellissima Fashions – S ince 1975
Bellissima proudly opened its first location in 1975. Situated on Pender Street in downtown Vancouver, husband and wife team, River and Serena worked hard to grow their small business. Providing fabulous styles ranging from casual wear to formal, and specializing in business casual, customers are sure to find everything they need, from the perfect evening dress to comfortable and stylish outfits for the weekend. Today, Bellissima is still a family run business which has grown from one location, with a staff of four, to 22 stores across Canada, employing over 400.
Kidsbooks – Since 1983
Phyllis Simon decided to take her love of children’s literature and her librarian’s skills and venture out into the business world. Kidsbooks started small and grew slowly to take on more challenges as the bookstore grew. What remained consistent throughout the decades was the owner’s belief that books have a certain inexplicable magic and that paper books with actual pages would endure, even in view of the technology of today’s world.
Broadway International Wine Shop – Since 1986
Established in 1986, with a limited inventory in a modest space, this shop was one of the first private wine stores in BC, not to mention the first in Kitsilano! “We love the neighbourhood, the people and the history,” says Rosina. “Our customers and long-time neighbours are like family. They have seen us grow up, we’ve all grown up together.” Originally started by their parents, siblings Jason and Rosina Li, with Christopher Reid, continue the family legacy with passion and enthusiasm. They love to collaborate with like-minded businesses to host tastings and events, and share their love of good wine, and good company.
Nat’s Pizza – Since 1992
Owned by Nat and Franco Bastone, Nat’s New York Pizzeria’s thin-crust, Neapolitan-style pizza originated in Nat and Franco’s great-, great-, great- grandmother’s kitchen in Naples, Italy back in the 1900s. In 1991, Nat and Franco traveled to Yonkers in New York to learn the 100-year old family secret behind hand-tossed pizza and the famous sauce. They returned to Vancouver and proudly introduced their family’s thin-crust pizza to Kitsilano in 1992.
The Stars on Broadway initiative includes new street banners which can be seen adorning the neighbourhood, reflecting the vibrant local personalities who comprise the longest-running WBBIA membership. These beautiful banners were created in partnership with Emily Carr students and local artists from BrainBoost Education. The Flag Shop Vancouver was deeply inspired by the sense of community, the creativity and the commitment to supporting its members – all demonstrated by the WBBIA. The street banners tell the story of the neighbourhood. The story is about the power and impact of local enterprise. It’s about endurance. It’s about the sense of community in the area. The story is about people joining together to make a difference. And the moral of the story is: “Small businesses matter!”