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Community-Serving Retail

Strathcona BIA, Dunefield and Youth Collaborative for Chinatown are creating opportunities for affordable, mission-driven and culturally significant businesses through their tenanting within underused buildings of Chinese societies and other not-for-profits in Vancouver’s Strathcona and Chinatown neighbourhoods.


With over 50 Chinese society buildings – and dozens of other not-for-profit properties – in Strathcona and Chinatown, there is great potential for securing these spaces for businesses that provide benefit to the local community. We repurpose such underused commercial spaces for community-serving retail.


We want to challenge that the decline and displacement of community-minded and heritage business is inevitable. Our focus is on getting the next generation of entrepreneurs interested and ready to start their own ventures, while ensuring that existing (family) businesses can reinvent themselves.


This program is a true community effort between partners who each belief in the importance of local, community-serving and heritage businesses. Strathcona BIA represents the areas business community and aims to see its members thrive in a mixed-use, inclusive, resilient and prosperous local economy. Youth Collaborative for Chinatown is a network of youth bringing back the “hot and noisy” atmosphere of Vancouver’s Chinatown and activating public spaces with Mahjong socials, storytelling, lantern-making, book binding and more. The City of Vancouver kindly provides partial funding for the project, as part of their strategy to support community-based initiatives that foster community economic development in the Downtown Eastside. We also thank Haeccity Studio Architecture for their valuable contributions and efforts to make our first pilot project a success.


We want to make this project a true community effort, and reach and collaborate with as many not-for-profit property owners, community-serving businesses and stakeholders as possible.

  • Does your Chinese society or not-for-profit have underused commercial space? Is it in need of renovations or upgrades?
  • Do you want to start a community-serving business in Chinatown or Strathcona?
  • Are you an existing business in need of help to grow and remain successful in the DTES?
  • Are you interested in learning more and helping the program?

Read more on the project website and learn how you can participate: