18 Oct2011

Several guidebooks and magazine articles suggested this store might be an interesting place to browse and pick up a doodad or two. Located on the fringes of Gastown, it was a stone’s throw away from Meat & Bread, the sandwich place I featured a few days ago. Old Faithful states that their vision is to “stock quality goods for everyday living.” Inside a double height, almost cavernous space with exposed brick walls, it is beautifully “curated” albeit sparsely stocked store. Almost TOO curated. It reminded me of minimalist clothing stores that hang an outfit every 5 feet or so, leaving lots of space in-between. I can understand that sort of working when the clothing runs $5,000 a dress or jacket, but here, it made me (the numbers person) pause and think “do the owners even need to make any money here? or are they in it just to say they are storekeepers?…” Opened in the Spring of 2010, I am surprised it has managed to stick around for this long.

I might be exaggerating, but I think I would be surprised if they stocked more than 100 different items. And some of the ones they did stock were rubber rimmed glass jars or vials or vessels… all pretty handsome and utilitarian, but many of them available in various other locations (like a hardware or cook shop) at a lower cost. There was the odd food item or syrup or jam, soaps, incense, etc.

A few wooden items like chopping boards or trays that were astronomically priced, some at $176 or more for a fairly straighforward piece. And these were as basic as they get, albeit out of fine wood, and handcrafted, no doubt. You could pick up terrariums, hanging lamps, and a curious mix of goods… see their website here for a better idea of what they had on offer.

Mrs. MM and I browsed for some 10 minutes or so, and didn’t find anything except a $8.95 box of “balsam fir incense” which I thought might bring a bit of the holiday fragrance to our home in Manila during the holidays since we are likely to have a fake Christmas tree instead of a 9 foot spruce… I thought it might also be a “local product” but it turns out to be made in Maine, where we had just come from. :)

Back at home, we lit one of the incense sticks and placed it in our living/tv/dining room which are all in one big room, and while the strong scent of balsam did indeed fill the room, after 10 minutes or so we had to put the incense outdoors as it was seriously overpowering. Will have to use it sparingly during the holidays, or at least smoke up the room BEFORE any guests arrive. It’s the sosyal equivalent of pine-scented christmas tree shaped car air-fresheners of years past… Old Faithful have their products available on-line through their website. You can browse what they have to offer there, no need to see the actual store.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. ayla says:

    Loved that last line! “You can browse what they have to offer there, no need to see the actual store.”

    Oct 19, 2011 | 12:30 am

     
  2. Joji says:

    Looks like a thrift shop.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 1:02 am

     
  3. Connie C says:

    MM, or anybody, in your wanderings for doodads, have you ever seen a smaller version of a cork stopper with a curved pourer? I have looked all over to use them for little container bottles that I save for vinegar and oil to serve at the dinner table. What I find are larger rubber stopper ones that have straight pourers, not small nor proportionate enough for my bottles.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 1:31 am

     
  4. sister says:

    Looks like another trust fund baby’s hobby. We have a few of them here in NYC. You wonder how they exist at all, until you realize making a profit is not what it’s about. A shelf of bushel baskets, really? It’s about having one’s vision out there in public. Ego polishing, as it were. Always suspected there was a tax break involved somewhere…

    Oct 19, 2011 | 2:50 am

     
  5. Walter says:

    Thank you for visiting our store. I’m sorry your experience didn’t live up to your expectations.

    Both Savannah and I work incredibly hard to source great products and present them in a tasteful atmosphere. I have to confess it is a bit hurtful to hear derogatory comments being made – we’re honest folks trying to make an honest living.

    We’ve been fortunate to receive good press and we strive to meet our customers demands. Please be sure to visit our store the next time you find yourself in Vancouver.

    Best,

    Walter

    Oct 19, 2011 | 3:34 am

     
  6. Marketman says:

    Walter, yes, it was the “good press” that got us to drop by for a visit. And yes, I have to agree the shop is beautiful and I appreciated the way some products were selected and curated. However, a quick scan of prices of goods that were made on the U.S. east coast, where we had just traveled from, showed this… and all of these items also available on line… For the Balsam Fir incense from Paine’s in Maine, a 24 stick box with holder was just US$4.50 while the 40 stick box at Old Faithful was C$8.95, and adjusted premium of say 30+%. For the “large” sugar maple cutting board, at your store for C$176 or roughly US185 equivalent, it was just $150 from the Blackcreek Mercantile website. And finally, for the ginger or apple cider syrup which was C$21 or roughly US$23 at the shop, you can order the exact same bottle from Hickoree’s Hardgoods for just US$13 or a premium of say 70+%. In this day and age of on-line shopping and comparison, it’s hard see beyond those mark-ups, when the exact same products are readily available by mail…

    Oct 19, 2011 | 6:45 am

     
  7. hiddendragon says:

    Me thinks at least Mr. Walter was sport enough to respond, and Marketman fair enough to reply. Most likely, the sources of the shops are different and there are minor but significant differences in the products.

    At any rate, that’s how the ball rolls with the upper-end (not necessarily, luxury) markets, there will always be people who market these products, and people who consider them fair and reasonable value.

    It’s like buying a Rolex when you very well know a lot of your money was spent on the inside front cover ad in Time Magazine. As for me, I’m a Timex guy who likes to visit these quaint little shops, and buys a little something (if reasonable) as a token of appreciation for the effort the shopkeepers made to come up with a nice lifestyle presentation. Namaste’!

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:22 am

     
  8. Marketman says:

    Connie C, did you mean something like these cruets? They were a gift but I have seen them in some upscale kitchen supply shops in the U.S… If you are just looking for corks, they sell small ones in Divisoria, or you can craft them from used wine bottle corks with a sharp knife.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:45 am

     
  9. proteinshake says:

    I think these are fair prices for the nostalgia and lifestyle that the products evoke — esp if they are good quality. I think maybe this is just the retail outlet for a predominantly online and wholesale business (I hope this is the case, as rent is not cheap).

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:46 am

     
  10. Mimi says:

    There must be an ‘in’ thing going on with shops selling empty vials and bottles because there’s one shop at Ion Orchard called Vom Fass which sells oils and essences. Prices are way high, but the visual presentation of their items is amazing.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 9:28 am

     
  11. cwid says:

    It’s a face of life that Canadian prices are generally higher their US counterparts. And Old Faithful’s price structure is typical. That’s why cross border shopping is very much alive.

    Here’s more on this:

    http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/life/money/article/153722–why-consumer-goods-cost-more-in-canada-than-in-the-u-s

    Oct 19, 2011 | 11:35 am

     
  12. cwid says:

    Ooops! too many typos. Should have been written as: It’s a fact of life that Canadian prices are generally higher than their US counterparts….

    Oct 19, 2011 | 4:26 pm

     
  13. ami says:

    Good thing there’s a Seattle Premium Outlet near the border from Bristish Columbia.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 5:19 pm

     
  14. Connie C says:

    Thanks MM for the archive link on cruets. What I am looking for are the smaller version of the cork stopper fitted with a stainless steel curved pourer that would fit a smaller than the usual size of the diameter of a wine bottle opening. I have seen big ones, with rubber stoppers instead of the cork but won’t fit the small opening of nice container bottles given to me by the host of our guest house in Pretoria on a recent visit to South Africa. I commented on her nice small oil and vinegar bottles fitted with the cork stopper and pourer. She gave me two nice small container bottles and referred me to Benin’s , a large purveyor of home goods in Pretoria, but no luck on the pourers similar to hers. While at the store, I chanced upon a contemporary design heavy gauge stainless steel French press good for two cups of coffee which I got instead.

    Nice to have the smaller containers/servers when having two to four people at the dinner table.

    Oct 19, 2011 | 8:57 pm

     
  15. betty q. says:

    Connie C…go google WIDGETCO.COM …..they have cork stoppers ranging from 000 size and up. They also have what I think you are looking for. ..click on pouring spouts.

    Hope that helps!

    Oct 20, 2011 | 12:11 am

     
  16. betty q. says:

    Connie C…also check out e-bay….bottle pourer with cork or just simply bottle pourer.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 12:37 am

     
  17. Connie C says:

    Thanks bettyQ. Will keep looking for the right size. Most are for regular sized liquor or spirit bottles. I am looking for something slightly smaller to fit the smaller opening and proportionate in size to the smaller bottles.

    Oct 20, 2011 | 3:50 am

     
 

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