From time out of mind, the building at 706 Victoria Drive that meets the corner of East Georgia housed Scott’s Market, a family-run convenience store with a reputation that mirrored both the interior space full of groceries and the exterior appearance reminiscent of early 1920’s construction: cozy, warm, and bright with character. Notwithstanding the childhood memories held by all in the local community, last year saw the building sold and the owners of Scott’s Market retire. For some, this seemingly abrupt conclusion to a neighbourhood gem begat sweet nostalgia feels and for others, a sense of urgency in making sure no one anywhere could craft a plan to knock the now heritage building down, which would of course only beget further disruption and upset (it’s Vancouver, what do you expect?).
Thankfully, the meantime had Ainsley McIntyre, hailing from Edmonton and Lindsay Burke of Vancouver scouring Craigslist ads where this very building I speak so highly of – like it’s the brick and mortar version of my own cute personal grandpa or something – was being offered to rent. A viewing took place, an idea to open shop was floated by one to the other, and overnight, Ainsley and Lindsay moved their antique collection from a dim and dusty storage locker into 706 Victoria Drive. This is how two friends turned business partners started a lovable, charmingly curated neighbourhood thrift shop.
Ainsley and Lindsay inherently love old things and are curators by trade, paying allegiance to the customs of places like Montreal where furniture and gadgets are regularly left on the streets and in the darkness of alleys in the prior owner’s hopes of new lives in new homes. “It’s amazing some of the stuff people abandon! Finding beautiful old pieces is pretty exciting and no two trips are ever the same, so collecting pieces that we love and pair them with other items in the shop in a unique way has become an addiction,” Lindsay says. This addiction has led Ainsley and Lindsay – their antiquing hearts in hand – on huge road trips in an empty truck following estate sales, garage sales, auctions, salvage yards, flea markets, and just about every lead they know of in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon. Apt then, that the name of the shop on the corner is called The Found and The Freed.
Perusing the nooks and corners of The Found and The Freed is enjoyable and hysterical at the same time and what I think a nice little Saturday is made of, though consider this a fair warning: what you never thought you needed or would really bring the room together (that rug! Sorry, I couldn’t resist and it’s a total interruption to this train of thought but don’t sit there and tell me that every fan of The Big Lebowski reading this just thought about how long it’s been since they last watched this timeless classic and consequently, how to stream it next on the down low – whaaaat!) will find its way into your home in a subtly fantastic kind of way. The inventory includes, but is certainly not limited to a globe from 1910, a (tried and tested) vintage bow and arrow set, tattered boxing gloves, old Vancouver bus scrolls, and tropical plants in mugs or my personal favourite, an aged tobacco tin, which now sits on my kitchen counter (in a Simonds Saw and Steel Co. wooden box also from The Found and the Freed). The girls say it’s about finding pieces that they’d want in their own homes, but having browsed and only willed myself out of the shop because of subsequent unrelated time pressures, I can tell you The Found and The Freed is about a stylish mix of conscientious selection and absent-minded serendipity that you can try but likely not find anywhere else in the city.
And if you don’t end up picking a little something on your first trip, well at least you had the pleasure of meeting (and probably walking over or around) Homer and George, the giant resident Bernedoodles who, on their nonchalant own, make the visit entirely worthwhile.