The New Gen. Collective on Robson Street in Vancouver was temporarily closed yesterday for a very unusual reason. Would-be customers and passersby at the store were told what happened in a humorous note taped to the door.
"Closed for the day because I electrocuted myself a bit," reads the sign written by owner Kelly Goebel.
"Don't want to do it to anyone else," the sign continues. "I mean surprisingly I'm not dead I just want to go run [really] fast for a while. Then I'll fix it."
Goebel says she was rearranging furniture in the store like she always does in the mornings when no one is around when she was shocked.
"I was moving a giant metal rack, with all the clothes still on it," she tells V.I.A. in an email. "I saw a spark and felt a prick of pain on my ankle. I looked down and there was a live wire sticking out of the wall."
She says she has electrocuted herself before and that "this was nothing" so she kept going thinking that she would fix it later when the hardware store opened.
"I was trying to be fast," she recalls, "But then my heart got a bit faster, and a bit faster, and a lot faster, and even though I wasn’t stressed or anxious or anything, I just couldn’t think and I just felt like I needed to burn off some major energy."
Goebel is fine and says that running actually did help.
"I was so zippy. I felt like I could go all day."
Eventually, Goebel says when she got home her heart rate slowed, her face became less red, and she took a nap before heading to the hardware store.
The Next Gen. is expected to be open again today but Goebel wants to check the whole store for other possible live wires before letting people back in, including employees. "No accidents will be happening to anyone other than me on my watch," she jokes.
What is Next Gen. Collective?
Next Gen. isn't your typical storefront. For starters, Goebel says she didn't even mean to start a business.
"We like to think we’re the new generation of the retail landscape," she explains.
With many empty storefronts along Robson and local online businesses struggling to get attention, Goebel wanted to fix two problems at once.
"Robson used to be iconic. Now tourists tell me constantly how disappointed they are when they come down," she says. With the help of the City, the Robson BIA, and the West End BIA, Goebel started running weekly markets on Robson and Davie, strictly for online businesses to have some in-person time and exposure.
The response was reportedly overwhelming. So much so, that they were able to open a permanent storefront next to where they held the markets.
"Our business is basically hustling in any way possible, to provide a variety of real-life opportunities, for all budgets, as much as we can, in any way possible, for other small and/or new local businesses," Goebel continues. "Our Westend community also wants back all the creative diversity and inclusion that was taken away from actual local businesses run by people who actually live here."
It is Goebel's hope that the businesses spotlighted at Next Gen. can eventually grow enough to rent their own spot in one of the empty retail storefronts along Robson.
"We want to support our community to help us in restoring the coolness of Robson St. and its international reputation."