Imagine visiting Vancouver in the summer and combining your travel plans with an amazing opportunity to support inclusive and queer small businesses. That’s right, folks! We’ve got your go-to guide, detailing all the best shopping spots to visit, where you can back local queer-friendly businesses while discovering the city’s top tourist locations. And let’s be honest, is there anything better than finding a new favorite store and knowing that your purchase contributes to a greater cause? We think not!
Pride Events: A Festive Celebration of Diversity
Okay, so let’s kick things off with a bang. You’re in Vancouver, you’re ready to explore, and there’s a colorful wave of pride events just waiting to be discovered. But these aren’t just any old events – no, these are festive celebrations of diversity that offer you the chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant queer community of Vancouver. Picture yourself there, having fun and feeling the vibe while supporting local queer artists, makers, and entrepreneurs showcasing their immense talents and fabulous products. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?
So, you’ve probably heard of Vancouver Pride – it’s kind of a big deal! As the city’s largest and most renowned pride event, this fantastic celebration is bursting at the seams with a parade, a festival, a market, and a dazzling array of parties and shows spanning an entire week. And let’s not forget the inclusive and queer vendors that await your support at the end of the pride march. If you’re seeking a day spent outdoors, immersed in one of the happiest, most loving communities on earth, Vancouver Pride is a must-see. And guess what? It’s growing in popularity yearly, so there’s always something new to experience!
Other Pride Events
But hold on, we’re just getting started! Vancouver is about more than just the main pride event, oh no. There are a plethora of other smaller yet equally impactful pride events happening throughout the year, including New Westminster Pride, Chilliwack Pride, Fraser Valley Pride, Maple Ridge Pride, Port Coquitlam Pride, Burnaby Pride, and White Rock Pride. So, regardless of when you’re visiting between June to September, there’s likely a pride event just waiting for you to join in on the fun. Plus, it’s worth noting that many of these events host riveting drag performances that add an extra layer of excitement to the proceedings. Be sure to check out each event’s website for more info and get ready for a dose of unforgettable fun.
Granville Island: A Haven of Artistic Flair
Are you on a quest to discover the hidden gems of Vancouver that ooze artistic flair? Look no further than Granville Island, an enchanting spot that’s guaranteed to leave you inspired and in awe.
Explore Local Inclusive Artistry at MAKE Granville
First up on the Granville Island tour is a visit to MAKE, a boutique store that’s an absolute treasure trove of creativity. At MAKE, it’s all about supporting local artistry, and this charming spot features products from hundreds of Canadian makers and artists, and many queer ones too! Hunting for unique, locally made gifts or souvenirs? This is the place to be. From stylish clothing and trendy fashion accessories to quirky home decor, captivating stationery, and rainbow toys, MAKE offers something for everyone.
Discover the Charms of Granville Island
Of course, your exploration of Granville Island will continue beyond MAKE. This vibrant district, once a hub of industrial manufacturing, is now a bustling attraction featuring a range of fascinating sights and activities. Wander the stalls of the Public Market and indulge in fresh produce, baked goods, seafood, meats, and more. Immerse yourself in the arts and culture scene with visits to local galleries, studios, theaters, and the renowned Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Fancy a spot for shopping? There are specialty stores aplenty, offering everything from books and chocolates to tea, spices, pottery, and jewelry. Have you got kids in tow? They’ll love the Granville Water Park and Slide, the Adventure Zone, and the Granville Island Toy Company. If entertainment is what you’re after, you’re in for a treat with live music, comedy shows, trivia nights, karaoke, and a variety of patios and restaurants, perfect for a relaxing evening. And for those with a love for the great outdoors, rent a kayak, canoe, paddleboard, or bike, hop on a ferry ride, or join a guided tour to soak in the natural beauty of the area. As a quick tip, plan ahead as Granville Island gets extremely busy during the summer months!
Gastown: A Historic Gem
Next on your Vancouver exploration is Gastown, a historic gem that’s one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.
Immerse in Local Culture at MAKE Gastown
Within the captivating urban fabric of Gastown, you’ll find another branch of MAKE. Like its Granville Island sibling, this store also proudly showcases products from inclusive and queer local makers and artists, providing another fantastic opportunity to support the community.
Exploring the Iconic Landmarks of Gastown
Gastown isn’t just a shopper’s paradise, though. This neighborhood also serves as a time capsule, encapsulating the history and culture of Vancouver within its charming streets. Arguably the most iconic landmark is the steam clock located at 305 Water St. This engineering marvel is powered by a steam engine that raises a series of ball weights, delivering them to the clock’s drive train. Every 15 minutes, the clock lets out a whistle and shoots steam from its pipes, playing the Westminster Chime. On the hour, it marks each passing moment with a toot from each whistle.
Beyond the clock, Gastown is a feast for the eyes, with a mix of shops, restaurants, and historic buildings that reflect the Victorian era. Think cobblestone streets, brick facades, gas lamps, and vintage signs. You can delve deeper into Gastown’s origins and its journey from a single tavern to a bustling city by visiting the Gastown Museum or joining a walking tour. And trust us, it’s a tale well worth hearing!
Metrotown: A Shoppers’ Paradise
If you’re a shopper at heart, it’s time to get your retail therapy at Metropolis at Metrotown, a bonafide paradise for anyone who loves large shopping malls.
Unique Finds at Makers Metrotown
Tucked within the largest mall in Greater Vancouver is Makers (Store #2177), a charming oasis that’s perfect for those who love supporting local artisans, including queer artists. Makers is more than just a store; it’s a celebration of the local community and their creative prowess. With hundreds of handmade products available for you to explore, shopping at Makers is a feel-good experience on two levels – you get to take home fantastic products and know that 100% of every sale goes straight to the maker.
Enjoy Shopping and More at Metrotown – Canada’s biggest shopping mall in Greater Vancouver
If you’re craving a more expansive retail therapy session, Metropolis at Metrotown has you covered! Located in Burnaby, BC, Canada, this shopping complex is not only the largest mall in the province but also one of the most popular places to shop in the Lower Mainland. Accessible by public transit and boasting ample free parking spaces, Metrotown promises a seamless shopping experience. Whether you’re after the latest fashion trends, top tech gadgets, or artisanal products, Metrotown Metropolis Mall is the place to be!
North Vancouver: Scenic and Vibrant
Beyond shopping, there’s much to explore in Vancouver, and we’re now moving on to the scenic and vibrant surroundings of North Vancouver.
Shopping with a View at Makers North Vancouver
Another Makers store awaits your visit in North Vancouver. Located conveniently near the waterfront, pier, and marina, Makers North Vancouver not only offers a fantastic shopping experience but also stunning views. Here, the ethos is the same: supporting small local artisans and queer businesses and creating a platform for their talent.
Relaxation and Recreation in North Vancouver
However, North Vancouver isn’t just about shopping. This area is a hotspot for relaxation and recreation, offering picturesque views of Vancouver Harbour and the mountains. You can take a leisurely stroll along the pier, visit the Polygon Gallery, or hop on a sea bus ride to Downtown Vancouver. Whichever you choose, a visit to North Vancouver guarantees a rich experience filled with natural beauty, cultural interest, and a vibrant local community.
Davie Village: The Heartbeat of Queer Community in Vancouver
A queer visit to Vancouver is incomplete without a trip to Davie Village. This vibrant neighborhood, with its iconic rainbow road intersection, serves as a central hub for the queer community in the city. The area is characterized by businesses proudly displaying rainbow flags, symbolizing their support for the LGBTQ+ community.
On Davie Street, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and services tailored to your needs and preferences. Plus, a multitude of queer-friendly pubs, clubs, and bars keep the area buzzing with activity. Check out Numbers Cabaret, Celebrities Nightclub, Pumpjack Pub, The Junction Pub, and Score on Davie for some memorable nights of live music, comedy shows, drag performances, trivia, and karaoke. Every summer, take advantage of the vibrant annual pride parade and festival that light up Davie Street with celebrations of diversity and love.
Prefer to Shop Online? Check Out Proud Zebra
For those who prefer online shopping to support queer and inclusive businesses, we’ve got you covered. As a queer-owned small business based in Vancouver, Proud Zebra offers a variety of pride flag accessories representing over 35+ pride identities. Their selection includes pride pins, pronoun pins, lanyards, bag charms, shoelaces, lace locks, drawstring bags, twilly scarves, and sticker sheets. You can bet there will be something for everyone.
But they aren’t just about merchandise; they’re also deeply committed to giving back to the community. 100% of profits from their charity pins collection, along with a portion of all sales, go to local charities such as Rainbow Refugee and Qmunity. You can also follow them on Instagram to stay updated on their latest products and promotions.
Proud Zebra was born from the dreams of Delwin and Jimmy, a gay couple who moved from Singapore to Canada to fulfill their goals in a more inclusive society. Their vision was to create a brand that empowers LGBTQ+ individuals to take pride in their identity and express themselves through subtle, classy, and unique pride accessories. Their commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment is a testament to the power of the queer community and small businesses in shaping a more accepting world.