It seems something is brewing on Union Street… First Victoria boutique Charlie & Lee made the jump over the Straight, right into the heart of the Chinatown/Strathcona neighborhood and now a new concept shop from String Mag favorite Eunice Quan and business partner David Lin has opened up right next door.
As you walk South on Main, it seems an unlikely place for a minimal, rustic men’s boutique. You dodge octogenarian Chinese grandmothers and wander past fragrant mounds of dried squid and dong quai, but sure enough when you turn left at the Jimi Hendrix memorial there it is: The Board of Trade co. (227 Union Street).
Quan and Lin chose this up-and-coming neighborhood at the edge of Strathcona precisely because it is new and as yet largely unknown for most people in Vancouver. They wanted to create intentional connections with the community and bring something new to the neighborhood, rather than be just another shop on just another retail-clogged street. To them, Strathcona symbolizes the new, the open—not yet a part of the money-driven rat race.
“Don’t get me wrong,” says Quan over our sunny Chinatown picnic of green tea and shrimp chips, “I want Board of Trade co. to do well, but it’s really not about the money. We just really want to bring beauty to Vancouver, at affordable prices.” Coming from anyone other than straight-talking Quan, this could come across as dreamy, New Agey lip service but the duo is putting their ideals into practice.
When sourcing designers to carry, Quan and Lin headed to Southeast Asia with a list of 15 new, independent designers they wanted to meet. They were quickly able to whittle the list down to 8 designers who were on the same wavelength as Board of Trade co. “We really got to know them,” Quan says, “we went out clubbing, we went out for dinner, we became friends.” In this way, Lin and Quan hope to truly represent these designers in the North American market—in fact, the shop also doubles as a showroom and Lin and Quan have exclusive rights to sell and represent the designers.
Open less than a month, Board of Trade co. is already garnering a loyal following for its pared down, dapper aesthetic. At our interview, Lin is rocking a slim striped button down from Shake Appeal, buttoned all the way to the top. The slim fits of the men’s clothing would lend itself well to ladies looking for an androgynous look as well, though Board of Trade co. has now branched out into women’s wear. Browsing the racks offers an interesting juxtaposition: the men’s clothing is tailored and slim while the women’s is slouchy and oversized. The overall feeling is of clean-cut, effortless style—perfect for Vancouver.
The Board of Trade co. is a refreshing addition to the retail scene in Vancouver, with price points almost entirely under $150. The value is incredible, considering the exclusivity of the products—some designs are one of a kind—and also the care that is evident. Everything in the shop has a story and Quan and Lin are happy to tell it.
Stay tuned to String Mag and The Board of Trade co. blog and Facebook for news on the upcoming grand opening party!