April, 2014

  1. Baggins Shoes: The Kings of Converse

    April 30, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    Listen (above) to Dan Gunn talk about Baggins Shoes on the Zone FM

    Lower Johnson’s Baggins Shoes is yet another Victoria company that quietly goes about its business being the best in the world.

    They’re called “the undisputed King of Converse” and they are located (tucked in a Hobbit hole, some might say) right here in Victoria. But thousands of people all over the world shop their online store for hard-to-find shoes. The range of colour, styles and sizes will blow you away, a virtual rainbow of sneakers.

    The largest “single-door retailer” of the Chuck Taylor shoes in North America can print just about anything you want on your Converse or Van sneakers. One man asked co-owner Glenn Lynch to print a photo of his recently deceased cat.

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    It all started in 1969 when Glen needed a black-light to properly display his psychedelic posters. But at that time black lights were hard to come by.

    The only place he could find them was at lighting wholesalers. Unfortunately wholesalers would only sell to businesses. You couldn’t only get a business license without a business address, which in those days couldn’t just be out of your home.

    So to get ahold of some black lights, Glen decided to start a business. He found a second floor shop on Government Street for $80 per month, but he knocked it down to $60 in exchange for sweeping the stairs. The Baggins journey began there.

    Today Baggins sells to devoted sneaker enthusiasts all over the world from their LoJo shop. To accommodate their sneaker printer, the store has expanded to include a production studio at 47 Market Square.

    Already, local businesses like Reunion and Outlooks for Men have ordered unique shoes from their shop, while Baggins has partnered with local designers like Shawn O’Keefe, a graffiti and poster artist, and comic illustrator and Johnson Street comic shop owner Gareth Gaudin, to create original designs.

    Head down to 561 Johnson St. or call 250-388-7022 to find out more.


  2. Carolyn Mark, Queen of Vancouver Island

    April 25, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    While Queen of Vancouver Island, title of Carolyn Mark’s 10th album is an homage to BC Ferries (“They don’t actually have a Queen of Vancouver Island ferry and  I thought there should be one”), it’s a fitting title for this Victoria-based singer/songwriter and Mint records artist herself.

    Besides acting as an ambassador for Victoria during her many tours of BC, Canada and the US, Mark clearly loves her Island home. Mark’s upcoming West Coast Roots Celebration Tour sees her visiting three towns on the Island.

    And Marks’s Island home loves her, in no small part due to her efforts as “Queen Bee” organizing (with a lot of help from her dedicated friends) the weekly Hootenanny at Logan’s Pub on Cook Street for nearly twenty years (the Hootenanny began its life at the late, great Old Bailey pub on Courtenay Street).

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    The Hootenanny, an open mic night with a country theme held from 4 to 8pm every Sunday, is a key cultural event for denizens of Victoria’s thriving alt-country scene.

    The Hootenanny is a raucous, good-humoured weekly singalong week that welcomes to the stage newcomers and established performers alike. Audience participation often turns into collaboration, like this.

    Thanks to Carolyn Mark and her many friends, the Hootenanny has helped transform its section of Cook Street into a funky little neighbourhood that is worth visiting, and makes Victoria a more vibrant place.


  3. Al and Teresa Say: Victoria is the Number 42

    April 16, 2014 by Tessa Bousfield

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    On his website, Al Smith describes himself as “a professional photographer and entrepreneur based out of Victoria, BC, Canada.”

    But Al is more than that.

    He’s the founder of a successful Victoria tech startup, Oprius Software.

    Al Smith also is a devoted off-roader, and frequently takes off to explore forests, tundra, and desert in his magnificent and trusty Jeep.

    Al also single-handedly supports Fuji Film by buying all of their cameras whenever they come out. There’s actually statue of Al at the company’s Tokyo HQ. Just don’t tell them Al uses his iPhone to shoot most of his photos on the road.

    But why do we love Al the most?

    We love Al Smith because he works hard with fellow entrepreneur Teresa Lindsay to put Victoria’s culture on the map by publishing Vic42 (hint: “42” is a reference to Douglas Adams), an online archive of talented individuals in Victoria who are living beyond the norm and making things happen.

    You know, the people who make Victoria an interesting place.

    And if you don’t know Vic42 co-founder, writer, and social entrepreneur Teresa Lindsay, be sure to check out one of her many creative ventures, such as Threaditorial, or, of course, Vic42.

    Take the pledge and join Vic42 yourself!

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    Al also creates a place in Victoria for culture to thrive and grow. He uses his photography studio on Discovery Street for art shows, concerts and even movie showings.

    Most recently, he invited the director of a documentary about a well-loved indie Americana band to come to Victoria and speak.

    So Al Smith and Teresa Lindsay are all about making Victoria a richer, more connected place. Check out Vic42.

    You may learn the meaning of life.


  4. Ditch Records: the Best Record Store in Canada

    April 11, 2014 by Nevin Thompson

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    When VIATeC moves to our new home at Fort Victoria, we’re going to have a lot more space for our record collection. And it turns out we’re going to need as much space as we can get.

    Why?

    Because VIATeC’s new location at 777 Fort Street is directly across the street from the best record store in Canada: Ditch Records.

    Ditch Records is part of Tectoria’s secret sauce, and is part of what makes our island home such an eclectic, cultured and interesting place.

    Want a signed Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds “Live at KCRW” LP? They’ve got it. Pete Townsend’s Quadrophenia demos on vinyl? They have those to. Tickets to the upcoming Hanson Brother’s gig? Sorry, sold out! But, don’t forget to check Ditch’s ticket page for the latest information about upcoming gigs.

    Besides boasting a fantastic and comprehensive selection of new and used vinyl, CD’s, and even cassette tapes for 17 years, Ditch Records sells tickets for all types of shows in Victoria and Vancouver, including Rifflandia each September.

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    In fact, if you’re a local act, Ditch will support you by selling your tickets and generally getting the word out.

    The staff, led by store owner JR Robinson, are more than knowledgeable, firing out answers to tough music trivia questions faster than Google serves search results.

    And chances are, if you are searching for something, Ditch will have it. The tiny store at Fort and Blanshard is filled with a gigantic catalogue of niche categories and obscure titles, thanks to its trade-in policy which accounts for almost 50 per cent of new stock.

    Stores like Ditch Records are rare in Canada, as are the more mainstream record stores. A&B Sound, where JR Robinson got his start, is long gone from its former Yates Street location (and is now in fact home to one of Victoria’s most successful tech companies).

    Ditch survives and thrives because of the store’s connection to community… and an awesome vinyl and CD collection. We’re looking forward to becoming neighbours with JR Robinson and the staff at Ditch, and expanding the VIATeC vinyl collection.

    While you’re waiting for Fort Victoria to arise at 777 Fort Street, be sure to visit Ditch on April 19 this month, for Record Store Day 2014.