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The Federal Store is the little shop with a big heart

By Willem Thomas

VANCOUVER — While the name may evoke the image of a fur trading post back in the age of the American frontier, Mount Pleasant’s recently opened — November 12, after some delays — Federal Store is actually a bold, modern take on combining two mainstays of urban living: the cafe and the convenience store.

Situated on the corner of Quebec and 10th Avenue, within a single block of two busy thoroughfares, this bright little spot is a fresh, novel addition to the already cafe-centric area, providing a joint coffee shop and grocery store service. With Victoria’s Bows & Arrows coffee providing the caffeinated-goods and food options already far surpassing some more established places nearby, expect extended and repeat visits.

While the cozy space is fully formed and feels meticulously arranged, the truth behind its origin tells a bit different story — one of chance, trying new things, and maybe some luck. The convenience store that stood there previously (and had the same name and distinct Coke-style signage) had closed and Colette Griffiths and Christopher Allen were walking by and decided to slip a note under the door that same day. “We got a call two days later from the owners who live next door in the townhouses adjacent to the shop,” says Griffiths. “We met the owners, saw the space, and then two hours later they called and said it was ours.” While Griffiths had ambitions of one day opening a coffee shop, The Federal Store sort of just fell into place and they ran with it.

After a quite lengthy permit acquisition, design, and renovation process (they got the keys in March 2015), the pair have arrived at the end result of a decidedly unique cafe and grocer. Built over months and months of work utilizing “Lots of YouTubing and the help of friends,” the space came together with assistance from family, other local businesses (some of their wiring was given to them by Elysian Coffee), and the lending of ears and advice by a few local already established business owners. “On all fronts people have been very generous,” says Allen. “Everyone has been super supportive.”

Griffiths and Allen’s aim is to provide a quality community coffee shop that also provides many of the essentials — primarily local products — anyone living nearby may need. It feels like a new format of business, and the pair have ideas for the future. Among those plans? Griffiths says, “A patio scene next summer would be fun.”

The Federal Store is located at 2601 Quebec Street.

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