The Bestest Of Vancouver

by Carmen Cruz


What's a Thuggie?

Think of this: If a Snuggie and a hoodie made sweet, sweet love, you'd get a Thuggie.
If you're a hoodie junkie like me, this is by far the most awesome piece of comfort clothing you'll ever own.
Conceived, designed and made all right here in Vancouver.
I'm not sure if you know this, but Thuggies are kind of becoming a big deal.
I had a chance to catch up with Kim, one of the co-founders and the marketing & public relations goddess for Thuggies.

Thuggies - How did this all come about?

Kim - Thuggies officially became a company in January 2010, though our official business name is Why Not Apparel Inc.
The idea and name happened quite organically. I saw my friend Bryan wearing them at a charity lawn bowling tournament for cystic fibrosis, and knew they needed to be available to the world.
He sewed them himself, till we found a local seamstress in East Van who has sewed every single Original Thuggie and Thugglet (the kids version of the Thuggie).
I actually came up with the name one day when I was crossing the Burrard Street Bridge, and it hit me: the Thuggie.
It capitalized on what I saw as an absurd yet popular thing, while poking fun at the idea of a long hoodie somehow being gangster, or thug-like at all. An enormous, brightly colored, pants optional hoodie doesn’t exactly scream tough, it screams leisure and a comfortable sense of self.

How would you describe the average Thuggie wearer, or the 'Thuggie Style' as it were?

Kim - One of the things that continues to bring me delight and surprise is how varied our wearers are. The most typical consumers are young adult males who like skiing, snowboarding, and more recently, wake boarding. That said, we have entire multi generational families sending us pictures of them wearing their Thuggies, from Thugglet-aged tykes up to grandparents.
One of my favorite groups of Thuggie wearing super fans is a crew of grade 11 and 12 students from Ontario who started “Thuggie Thursdays”. They wear theirs every Thursday to school and then go straight to the slopes after.

I've been known to wear mine to the grocery store. Fail????!!!

Kim - We’re strong proponents of wearer’s discretion. Wherever you are comfortable being extremely comfortable is the right time to wear your Thuggie. In fact, we are currently designing wedding Thuggies for an entire wedding party, at their behest. So if they can wear theirs to a wedding, the grocery store is A okay.

Where have your Thuggies taken you so far?
Kim - We went viral last summer and ended up all over the internet in some major publications including the Huffington Post, Allnet, BuzzFeed, Some E Cards, and were featured on the front page of the Vancouver Sun’s Business Section. We were also on CBC's Dragons' Den, where we were given two offers, one by Jim Treliving and one by Arlene Dickinson.
Playboy Bunny Thuggie Action
 Web Pitch : Thuggies - Dragons' Den - CBC Television

We’ve also been on a myriad of radio stations across North America. No major celebrities have rocked our wares, at least not in public, but we’re working on it. A number of up and comers in the ski, snowboard and wake boarding communities have been wearing them, and we have a pretty huge name in skateboarding in the works, but we can’t release his name yet. You’ll be informed, though, I promise. Oh and we did a TV segment on Good Morning Sacramento. Come to think of it, we also sent a Thuggie to a Playboy bunny, at her request (after she discovered us on twitter). That was something.

Who is the one celebrity who NEEDS TO OWN A THUGGIE?!?!

Kim - Well, obviously Betty White is the first to come to mind. But she is probably out of our realm of   possibility. It would be nice to see Tina Fey in one, every time I watch the 30 Rock episode with her in a Slanket, I want to leap through the screen and give her a Thuggie. Or maybe she’s more of a Funzie...So, Tina Fey (unless you’re reading this, Betty). For a male, going to buck the trend and not say Justin Bieber. Tie between Trevor Linden and Ryan Gosling, for some Canadian representation.

What's the future of Thuggies?

Kim - We’ve just launched our one-pieced cotton romper, the Funzie. It has everything you’d ever want in a one-pieced romper, including a bum flap. I shudder to think the kind of fan photos we’ll get, as our fans are hugely into sending us pictures of them in their Thuggies. We’re going to branch out into more apparel, as well as different fabrics for our existing products. Our winter sports enthusiasts are keening for a more waterproof garment, and our water sports enthusiasts would like a towel version.

As far as Thuggies as a business, we’re expanding further into retail, though we will always maintain our online store. We’re in numerous stores across North America, Australia, and New Zealand, predominantly near mountains or bodies of water. With a two tier structure of online and retail, I’m pretty sure that we’ll be able to expand operations and creep closer to the inevitable, the building of the Thuggie Mansion. The only caveat is that pants must be checked at the door.

How much do they cost and where can people buy them? Any sales or specials coming up?

Kim - An Original Thuggie retails online at $85 CDN, our Zip Thuggies are $95 CDN and our Funzies are $105 CDN. Our Thugglets, for the smaller set (children aged 6 months to 7 years), are $45 CDN.

As it happens, our annual Black Friday sale is in full swing and runs till Monday, November 26th at 11.59pm PDT, with sales of up to 50% off.

Wanna help support this local company?
Right now the cool kids from Thuggies are in a competition for a free exhibitor booth at a massive snow sport trade show in Munich, in Feb 2013.

Thuggies is up for nomination as one of the ISPO BrandNew "Hottest Brands" for ISPO Europe in Munich Germany this year. There's a voting component that will influence judging for Thuggies to participate in this worldwide event.

Your vote can help this local company out - BIG TIME.
All you have to do is click the link below and "Like" the page. To find Thuggies, click top right on A-Z (they're on page 10), then all you have to do is "Like". 




                                       THE DUNBAR THEATRE

Here's what sucks about most movie theatres:                                                                               
1) Massive line ups and sold out show after sold out show
2) Usually ending up sitting waaaaaaay too close to the screen
3) Uncomfortable seats. Shifting from one butt cheek to another, with no real sweet spot to be found.
4) Popcorn flavoured styrofoam (I'm looking at you Scotiabank Theatre).

Wanna avoid this?
The Dunbar Theatre = The BESTEST movie theatre in the city.What makes it so awesome?
1) MASSIVE seats with tons of leg room.
2) Reasonable lineups. Chances are, you will actually get into the movie you want to see. Can you believe it? Ka-Ray-Zee!!!
3) Best Popcorn in the city. Hands down.
4) Rumour has it, the theatre is haunted. True Story.

Ken, one of the big wigs from The Dunbar Theatre, chatted with me about the theatres history, giant seats, ghosts and the secret behind their kick ass popcorn.

How old is The Dunbar Theatre?

Ken - The theatre has been around since about 1934. It's actually the first independent theatre to show first run shows in Vancouver

78 Years! Wow! The theatre has had a few facelifts since then, no?

Ken - It's always getting renovated but the major renovations were just over two years ago, new seats (more leg room then any other theatre in the city!), and a new digital and 3D projection system

I've heard from several different sources that the place is haunted. Is that true?

Ken Yes. No question. The manager (Tia) and a colleague (Matt) have both said they've seen moving shadows and have heard things at night when they close up.  We think it's the wife of a former worker. She use to come to the theatre when her then boyfriend worked as an usher every Friday, as I understand it.

What's the weirdest item to ever end up in your lost and found box? 

Ken - We get everything shoes, cell phones, even retainers! Everything is donated to Goodwill after 30 days.

Retainers? I betcha one of those was mine. So Ken, your popcorn is legendary. What makes it so damn good?!?!?!

Ken - We use only the BEST products including coconut oil and REAL butter. It tastes like butter because it IS butter.  Our popcorn is so good it comes with a health warning.


Good News! The ticket prices at The Dunbar Theatre are still less than the big box theatres (Adult: $10.75 / Child: $8.00 / Senior: $8.00 and just a heads up for ya'll the concession stand is CASH ONLY.  




                                          EARNEST ICE CREAM

Vancouver has always been a hotspot for artists. I'm talking musicians, painters, clothing designers, and the list goes on and on. But what about ice cream? Isn't ice cream making an art? Well the answer to that is yes, especially when you've had a taste of Vancouver based 'Earnest Ice Cream'.

I stumbled across these 'ice cream artists' at the Canada Day Block Party and Food Cart Festival in the parking lot of the Waldorf Hotel. As soon as Earnest Ice Cream expert Erica B. whispered the words 'salted caramel' I was hooked! One taste of this creamy delight took me to the land of ice cream Narnia... mmmmmm..........................

.... where was I ? Ah yes, Earnest Ice Cream.

This company is the brain child of dynamic duo Erica and Ben and they create their creamy concoctions at the Woodland Smokehouse & Commissary. Even though I'm currently obsessing about their salted caramel ice cream, this local company also makes an assortment of other amazing flavours like Tahitian Vanilla, Roasted rhubarb oat crumble, Cafe Etico Coffee and Whiskey with butter salted hazelnut, just to name a few.

So being the intrepid reporter  I am, I decided to have a quick chat with Erica and find out more behind the magic that is 'Earnest Ice Cream'.

Ice cream. Why? What inspired you to go down this path? 

Erica -  We have both had life long love affairs with ice cream and we are both  passionate about food and cooking. Ice cream is a blank state - allowing us  to be creative with flavours and where we can take it. And, everyone loves ice cream! Ben's first job was at Dairy Queen. I have attended culinary school (in Toronto).

What's your best selling ice cream? How did you come up with this  brilliant flavour idea and why do you think are people going nuts over it?  

Erica -  Our best selling flavour is, by far, Salted Caramel. We sell out of it every week. It's the perfect balance of sweet and salty with an amazing texture and richness. It was a flavour we developed early on, based on an ice cream made by a role model of ours, Jeni's Ice Cream. We both loved it instantly and knew it would be a favourite.

What do you love most about what you do? What's the toughest part of it all?

Erica -  What do we love most... that's a difficult question! All of it! Being in the kitchen and developing new flavours is a definite highlight, but we also love being at the markets and at events where we get to chat with our customers directly. Toughest part..... all that ice cream we have to eat ;)

Let's look ahead a year from now. Where are you hoping Earnest Ice Cream will be?

Erica-  We'd love to have our own ice cream scoop shop.

 Any future flavour ideas? Anything you'd really like to create, but are afraid to?   

Erica - So many flavour ideas! We have a long "wish list". One we had been thinking about for some time, but was a little frightened of, we just did! It was the Smoked Peach with Almond. Working at the Woodland Smokehouse means we have access to smokers and just had to use them eventually! It is definitely an adventurous and different flavour, but I think it really works.

I've gotta ask,  what tunes do you play in the background while making your ice cream?  Ice cream playlist please!

Erica -  We share a kitchen with a few other businesses, one of them is Cartems Donuterie. Rags (Cartems Chef) is also a dj so he is usually playing some sweet beats throughout the day. In the evenings, we usually have the radio tuned into Soul Town or Back Spin.

If you're interested in trying out Earnest Ice Cream for yourself (and why wouldn't you? It's the BEES KNEES!!!), you can try a cone of whatever flavour your heart desires (or whatever they have left in stock!) at Harvest Community Foods (243 Union Street) or at Cocoa Nymph (10th & Alma).
I can pretty much guarantee that you're going to fall in love with this stuff, so why not save yourself some time and just grab a pint?   You can pick one up for $9.00 (plus a $1.00 refundable deposit for the jar - recycling is awesome, right?) at The Woodland Smokehouse and Commissary (on Commercial and Pender). You can also find Earnest Ice Cream at Farmer's Markets and events around the city. When you're there, make sure you give Erica and Ben a high five for me :).




                                       HOLY CRAP! CEREAL

Holy Crap! is a cereal that was created by a cute little old couple from Sechelt, but we here in Vancouver have pretty much adopted it as if it were our own. 

It's a mix of healthy seeds and dried fruit, with a hint of cinnamon. It's vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, and wheat-free and has been dubbed 'the healthiest thing you'll ever eat'. Even though it looks like something you would get if you swept up the area surrounding the bulk bins in your local grocery store, it's actually pretty tasty stuff!

Last year, the creators of Holy Crap! Cereal pitched their product on the show 'Dragon's Den', and after an investment $120,000 and tons of publicity, this little company hit the big leagues.

While most enjoy Holy Crap! as a morning cereal, I personally prefer it as a snack (sometimes after a work out). I microwave 2 tablespoons of this stuff in a small bowl of milk and Voila! A yummy and super healthy snack. You can also have it with water, or sprinkled into yogurt.

You can find Holy Crap! in most Urban Fare locations, as well as Choices, Capers, Nesters Market and a few Market Place IGA's. For a more detailed list of where to find this stuff, click here.

Just an FYI:This is probably the most expensive cereal you'll ever buy. It retails for around $11 for a 225g bag.

Is it really worth it?





                                           REJOICE PET SALON

If you're a pet owner like me, you know how hard it can be to find a pet grooming salon that actually does a job that both you and your pet are happy with.

We've all experienced various forms of 'grooming nightmares'.  Pets who have been left bleeding (and you aren't told about it), hair cuts gone totally awry, and then there's this....

This atrocity happened to my little Maslow at a groomers home in Calgary. The sad thing is, not only did I pay for it, I even left a tip!!! (IDIOT!!! **slaps forehead**). I guess I felt sorry for the person who hacked my dog's hair. I've seriously gotta toughen up.

Moving on....

The good news is, not only have I found a place that does a FANTASTIC job, they're also really well priced, AND they use all natural products on your furry little amigo.

The place is called 'Rejoice Pet Salon' and it's located in Kitsilano (Jericho Village - corner of 4rth and Alma).  They've been around for a couple of years now, and not only does their work impress me, so does their customer service! They have super friendly staff, and if you're not 100% happy with your pup's cut, you can bring them in with no problem and no attitude.

The one thing I love the most about this place is the fact that they use social media to keep you updated on your dog's 'grooming experience'. They actually have a facebook page where they post pictures of your canine, before, during and after their grooming. I thought this was a brilliant idea. And yes, little Maslow has his own album from his last visit.
**Side Note: Is it just me, or do you find your dog looks hilarious/ rat-like/ creepy when soaking wet? Yeah.... **

This place also gets bonus points for helping rescue dogs find new homes. 

 I highly recommend you check out Rejoice Pet Salon. It's pretty awesome.



**Just a heads up - They always keep their front door locked to avoid having any dogs on the run, so make sure you always call ahead**

                               SECTION 3

It's the end of an era....

Section 3 is one of my favourite places to hang out at. Despite the fact that it's in Yaletown, the scene here is laid back and completely unpretentious. Arturo (my favourite bartender) makes the BEST mojito's in the city and J (the manager) gives amazing and friendly service - ALWAYS.
Their 'Nerd' sign has to be one of the most photographed bar signs in Vancouver (It's actually my wallpaper on my computer).
And their food! It's a little known fact that the food here is 'off the hizzle'.  They've got stuff like....

Pulled Pork and Goat Cheese Poutine
House-cut Kennebec Fries, Port Demi-Glace

Ultimate Veggie Burger
Whole Wheat Bun, Alfalfa Sprouts, Cucumber, Avocado, Roasted Garlic Mayo, Goats cheese

BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Four Cheese Macaroni and Coleslaw

**They've also got gluten free options. Nice!**

 I've had my birthday, going away and welcome back parties, all at this lovely place. I've even spent a new years eve here.
Now... it's closing it's doors for good. The owners have decided to sell the place and move on to new adventures. You have about a month to head out to Section 3 and take advantage of their amazing drinks, yummy food and awesome atmosphere. I have to say that I'll genuinely miss this place.

Maybe, if you're lucky, one of the staff there will tell you the story behind their 'nerd' sign and how they decided to name the restaurant 'Section 3'. (Let's just say it involved being sued by Robert De Niro. True Story).

As of September 23, Section 3 will be no more.

It truly was one of the Bestest Of Vancouver.



P.S: For more info on Section 3, check out their facebook page

                             LUSH SHOWER GEL & BODY    

While I'll never influence the world a la Oprah, I'd still like to share some of my favourite things with you. These things will range from restaurants and stores to products and places, special events, and everything else in between. 
I'll tell you now that nope, I'm not getting paid to endorse any of these things. I just wanna share. While my main goal will be to focus on Vancouver based stuff (on a weekly basis), I may stray to something from a far away place. No biggie, right? 
And so, here begins 'The Bestest Of Vancouver'...

I'm kicking it all off with 2 bath and body products I'm absolutely addicted to. They're from Lush (which FYI, have their North American headquarters based right here in Vancouver!). 
The 2 products in question are: 

It's Raining Men Shower Gel 



It has a bit of an unfortunate name, but it's honestly the bees knees! 
If you like sweet and creamy scents, you'll love this stuff. It's a blend of caramel, honey and toffee, with a hint of bergamot and orange. It smells almost edible. The label on the bottle says that you can also use this as a shampoo, but I say, only use it if you're out of shampoo and desperate. I've tried it on my hair before, and after rinsing it out, I could barely run my fingers through my hair. 
small (100ml) = $9.95
medium (250ml) = $17.95 
large (500ml) = $27.95

Ro's Argan Body Conditioner

I was pretty hesitant when the sales gal asked me if I wanted to try the 'New and AMAZING Body Conditioner!!!!!', but I gave in and walked over to the stores sink. Basically, this stuff works like a conditioner, but instead of using it in your hair, you use it on your body. It has the super popular ingredient of argan oil in it, (the stuff that's in the Moroccan Oil hair line) and it smells like roses and honey. You use it after your soap or shower gel, just before you get outta the shower. You step away from the water stream, rub it all over, and then rinse it away. Get out of the tub, pat dry, and you're good to go. Not only does it leave you smelling freaking GLORIOUS, you'll also be left with baby soft skin... but it doesn't come cheap.
A sampler of this stuff costs about $6.00, but a full container will cost ya $30. 

If you end up trying this stuff out, let me know whatcha think!!!