Final days for businesses on West 4th across from Safeway


The 1920s-era retail building across from Safeway on West 4th  is being knocked down to make way for new development. Ethel’s boutique, William Parton Agencies, Babes on Fourth, Kate French, Buen Café and Pirate Joe’s are all directly affected by the situation.

Ethel’s closes its doors on Jan. 15, to move to another site at West Broadway and Macdonald where it will reopen March 1. Ethel’s is a family biz which has been on West 4th since 1970. Buen Café has closed permanently. William Parton Agencies has already hopped over to 2695 West Broadway, after spending 53 years on West 4th. The other businesses already have or will soon move to new spots.  Pirate Joe’s said “Main Street appears to be refuge for independent retailers so we most likely will re-open there.” You can sign up to their email list to keep up to date on their plans.
The building was sold in recent years. It’s unclear exactly what the building owners’ plans are at this point.
Kits residents who don’t know what’s ahead point out that the small building has quaint charm missing in big brand stores up the road. It features unique black and red tiles that frame all the storefronts. Each store has a recessed entrance, which creates shelter from the rain, as well as the large show windows for retail displays and window shopping. Shop doors are wooden with large single-pane windows and proper door knobs.
Will you miss the little strip on West Fourth between Balsam and Vine? Or are you eager to see something shiny and new take its place? Weigh in below.

Last modified: January 19, 2016

12 Responses to " Final days for businesses on West 4th across from Safeway "

  1. This is such a shame. 4th Ave a few blocks east is dull, anonymous, ugly – dreary corporate businesses. This little block had the folksy charm of old Kits. What is so sad is that by building all these expensive condos for people who think the want the Kits life, they are destroying the very life and neighbourhood they are seeking.

  2. Very sad to see them go. We bought our coffee from Buen since they opened – still haven’t found a replacement (for the coffee or the friendly graciousness of the owner!). I recognize that a one story building lining a major street is not the most efficient use of land but sometimes that’s not what it’s all about. There was an organic sense of community in that little block that will be missed.

  3. Mike Hallatt says:

    Word is the wrecking ball won’t swing for another month or two so pirate operations as usual until then.

    What if we built a wooden pirate ship in someone’s yard in Kits and operated out of that? I don’t see how we could get in that much trouble…

  4. Al says:

    Greedy landlords strike again – 4th Ave has no character left – just a shitload of useless shops unless you want a Lululemon exrcise outfit or a maternity frock

  5. Stacy says:

    Coming soon…identical soulless boxes

  6. Christine says:

    And that’s why I left Kits…and Vancouver in general. The charm is gone and the price isn’t right.

  7. Maureen says:

    I heard this morning it’s going to be the Shoppers Drug mart moving from the corner to the new building in this location. Most of their stores are two stories now so probably will be again. I imagine condos will be on top and eventually that whole block will become that. Sad to see long time businesses gone. Only chains will be able to afford 4th in future.

  8. Rowena says:

    I suspected as much, and can only add my sad agreement to all the comments already listed. This just about ends what was so unique about 4th Avenue – its plethora of unique family-owned businesses most of which have already been forced out – as it now becomes another soulless street of dull architecture, boring chain stores and expensive restaurants.

  9. Tony says:

    I live on this block and am cautiously optimistic about this change. The building is really old and maybe this will help spruce things up and bring in some interesting tenants. There’s a bunch of vacancies across the road too, so maybe this is a chance to build this into a unique little block of Kits.

  10. DO says:

    Once the new buildings are up, small business owners cannot afford the higher rents. The street becomes an outdoor strip mall, mostly owned by chain stores and banks. What a foolish and pointless loss of sense of community, employment for local business owners, charm, heritage, and uniqueness.

  11. King says:

    I use to live on 4th and Bayswater. Such a same it’s now a starbucks. Assholes trying to make kits look like everywhere else. It’s sad. The whole area looks lame and lacks the charm it once had

  12. B.Bailas says:

    The real charm is in the alley . You would swear you are in Georgian England with the beautiful old brick doorways. Looks like a set of English row houses , just beautiful….get out there and take a few pictures of what will only be a memory very soon.