Yaletown Express is a neighbourhood convenience store that has served the Yaletown area for more than 20 years. We took possession in 2010, and have since relocated around the corner. We love the neighbourhood because it’s family-oriented even though it’s in the middle of the downtown core. We offer many products and services – Postal Sevice, Passport/Visa Photo, Key Cutting, Lottery, Printing and Faxing, Cigarette, Sweets and Pops, and much more! We are a proud BCLC Lottery retailer. Lottery sales account for about 8% of our overall revenue, providing for about 1 full-time staff person. Since it also brings in people that make other purchases, it probably has an even bigger impact on our business.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: We sell a lot of the big wholesale names, but we support small local companies wherever we can. We sell Yumy Bear candy based in Vancouver, we sell energy drinks and vitamin drinks from a local factory, and we save the best spot in the store we keep for the greeting cards we sell from local artists. We ask them to create their own unique introduction to customers, so they can communicate they are local. Seasonally we bring in other local products – locally made chocolates, candies, and dairy products from local farms and sweets from businesses in Gastown and Yaletown like The Lemon Square. Some of these companies we discovered because they use us for their shipping, so we reciprocate by offering to sell some of their products.
For all our services, we work almost exclusively with local businesses – about 95%. For our loans we use Blueshore Financial and Sharon’s Credit Union, our accountant is local, we get our key blanks from a business in Coquitlam, our boxes and packaging for the store from Great Little Box Co. in Richmond, and our display racks from Eddie’s Hang-Up Display Ltd. Our maintenance is from a local building company, our cleaner is local and our contractor for work inside the store is local. We did a renovation a few years ago and used a local company, a local plumber, and other local contractors. We also installed an air conditioner last year and we got a local person to install it. Our security cameras come from a local company too. A lot of our services come from businesses that are referred to us by our customers, and sometimes they come to us for referrals.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: We’re proud of how we’ve made our business feel like a family for our employees and our customers. We have 4 full and 1 part-time employee. We’ve had our longest-standing staff for 8 years! We keep people for a long time. We care for them like they are part of our family, try to make the work environment stress-free, and create an environment where they feel like their work is meaningful. We laugh off the hard days together and work hard to develop a culture where we serve people the way we want to be served. We also provide a point of human contact and help for many seniors during the day, and we’re proud to help them.
In terms of our environmental impact, we recycle everything we can and don’t provide customers with bags unless they ask (most don’t). The Postal Outlet doesn’t create much waste – we reuse and recycle all the bags, and we have a big box of reused materials – shopping bags, packaging materials that we can let customers reuse when they are shipping. Our customers might leave a roll of their tape or kraft paper and we let customers use it for free rather than upsell them to buy a new one. If people leave boxes behind that are in good condition, we take off the address and label and offer them used at a discounted price to our customers. Maybe a new box is $6 and we sell the reused one for $2. It’s win-win – they get reused and our customers get a break on the cost.
We donate more than 1% of our revenues to local causes, in products, gift cards, and our time. We support local community centres, and collaborate with Yaletown Business Association on events like the Candy Town they’ve done for Christmas. Sometimes they want coupons, sometimes they want products. There’s an elementary school across the street and they often ask for donations to resell to fundraise. We also donate gift cards to local causes. Sometimes our staff ask us and we donate to the causes they care about.