A local mom is looking to create a unique cafe and retail space that's comfortable for everyone in her East Vancouver community, in particular those who are neurodiverse.
Susan Young launched Seb's Cafe and Corner Store in December 2020, an online store specializing in goods from over 20 local vendors, personally delivered to shoppers in and around Vancouver.
Now Young is opening a "sensory-sensitive" storefront with cafe service on Commercial Drive, and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to make her dreams come true.
The concept behind Seb's Cafe and Corner Store was inspired by Young's son Sebastian - Seb - who has autism.
Young, a single mom who has been solo with young Seb since early 2019, intends to create a space that is accessible to all and designed with the needs of the neurodivergent community in mind, which means soft lighting, quiet spaces, and the option to use non-verbal ways to communicate with the staff.
Those extra considerations mean that customers won't experience the sound of clanging dishware or ticking clocks, for example, and there will be a space with toys to keep hands busy.
Cafe-goers will find locally-roasted coffee and artisanal baked goods on the menu, and the space will be licensed, so that will mean wine and craft beers, too. You'll also be able to pick up heat-and-serve meals to enjoy at home - saving busy families a stop at the noisy, crowded grocery store.
In the retail area, shoppers can expect to find products made in East Vancouver, including pantry items, toys, clothing, and gifts. Young is committed to showcasing local makers and vendors. The online shop currently features a stellar array of local goods, like soap bars from Plenty + Spare, handcrafted charcuterie boards by Bowyer & Toulson, and all things honey and beeswax from Hives for Humanity, along with much, much more.
The Indiegogo campaign, aptly titled "Seb's Café & Corner Store goes brick & mortar!" has a $75,000 fundraising goal, but the money raised has multiple applications. In addition to funding the project's startup costs, like building inventory, the lease, renovating and decorating the space, and hiring staff, a portion of each contribution to the campaign will go to one of several non-profit organizations selected by Young: the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, KidSafe Project Society, Grandview Woodland Food Connection and Eastside Family Place.
The plan is to continue working with those organizations as Seb's Cafe gets off the ground, and to also use the space as a venue for workshops and other community-building endeavours. Perks for investing through the campaign include swag like tees and mugs, as well as membership to Club Seb, a subscription service that includes a store credit.
So far, the crowdfunding campaign has raised over $5,600.