The Night Market Vancouver remains closed for now due to COVID-19, but its founder has created an adaptation that may become a spin-off venture.
Jessica Chan, the market’s founder and operator, has been running NMV Pop-Local for the past few months. The temporary store — located at 111 W. Ninth St. in downtown Vancouver and open weekends — opened in fall around the third anniversary of the market.
The night market operated out of WareHouse ’23 on the waterfront (the former Red Lion Hotel Vancouver at the Quay) in 2019. But with the building set for demolition this year, Chan said she is looking to secure another location.
Meanwhile, the shop has given night market vendors a chance to continue selling their products. It includes more than 60 brands of locally made products, including clothing, soaps, jewelry, artwork and baked goods.
The current site is already slated for use by a different business in the future. But around the time the temporary shop opened, Chan said that, despite recognizing the risk of opening during a pandemic, she was considering opening a permanent one.
Months later, with a taste of owning her own store and despite shifting, challenging business restrictions, Chan remains optimistic. She’s in the process of finalizing a location in the RiverWest building, 700 Columbia Way.
“You’re kind of forced to look at other business models. I would’ve never guessed that I would have owned a store,” Chan said. “It just worked out.”
The shop is tucked behind a barber shop with a narrow hallway from the sidewalk to the entrance. Adorning the hallway walls are renderings of the Port of Vancouver’s Terminal 1 redevelopment project along the waterfront.
The event atmosphere at the night market includes drinks, food and live music. Inside the shop are a couple of reminders of the night market in the form of a laser projector light and light-up stereo, albeit with music more fit for the daytime.
But with about 1,000 square feet of retail space, the temporary store is smaller, and vendors aren’t on-site to pitch their products to curious eyes.
Put simply, “it’s night and day as far as the two different models,” Chan said.
Chan experienced a slow start after opening Labor Day weekend before she placed some additional signs that point customers inside. Following a holiday boom, the shop is in the middle of a predictable January lull.
“It’s a little bit hard to identify,” Chan said. “There’s not really a storefront, so it’s just continuing to build that awareness over time.”
Another key adaptation has come from the customers themselves.
With the well-known struggles businesses are facing, customers have been more cognizant of supporting local stores, Chan said. “We’re lucky that everyone is so intentional this year.”