Bean Around Books connects curious minds with literary gems in a tidy, friendly atmosphere awash in the aromas of freshly brewed teas. The shop shelves an array of new and used books—from romance and mystery to sci-fi and self-help—that currently include page flippers such as the Star Trek Titan series ($5+) and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code ($15) in a special illustrated edition. Customers hunting for a rare first edition of Chicken Soup for the Salad-Shunning Soul can enjoy more than 25 loose-leaf teas in the seating area, or take home infusions that include varieties such as luscious mango ($11.99/100 g), green ginseng ($11.49/100 g), and Ilam artisanal oolong ($15.99/100 g) from Nepal. In the seating area, guests enjoy plentiful room in which to sip their earl grey while practicing Sherlock Holmes impressions or surfing the shop’s free WiFi. Bean Around Books also features the work of local artists and visiting writers, and an assortment of handcrafted jewellery.
Since 1938, Spokes Bicycle Rentals' bicycling enthusiasts have outfitted guests withe vehicles and safety gear to tour Stanley Park and the scenic Seawall trails. Over the years, they've built up a huge fleet of bikes and can accommodate most visitors without a reservation, aside from large groups and parties that include a centaur. They also provide guidance, giving people routes to follow for a brisk one-hour ride along the Seawall or an extended 22 kilometer jaunt to take in even more sunshine, salty air, and breeze-born sea foam.
Born into a farming family in South Africa, Aubergine Specialty Foods owner Leon Zetler has always recognized the importance of knowing where your food comes from. Over the years, his passion for food has led him from his family farm to a career as an organic-produce specialist.
Now, at Aubergine Specialty Foods, Mr. Zetler visits local farms daily, and hand-selects the freshest produce from Saanich. For example, tomatoes and cucumbers hail from Sun Wing Farm, while strawberries come from Oldfield Orchard. He also roasts organic and fair-trade African coffee beans to order, and gently grinds them in a 110-year-old Elgin coffee grinder. And he imports a vast variety of organic, kosher, and fair-trade pantry staples and favorites from around the world, specifically Africa, such as biltong, boerewors, and Mrs. Balls Chutney.
Mr. Zetler is happy to guide newcomers around the small, cheerful store. In the event that customers can’t find what they’re looking for, he even takes requests for products they would like to see on the shelves.l
In 1997, the tea aficionados at Special Teas Inc. began stocking their shelves with loose-leaf teas imported from all over the world. Today, the staff flavours and blends its own teas on-site, whistling piercingly like a teakettle as they mix certified organic and bio-grown ingredients into their own blends of black, green, and chai teas. The custom mixes peer down from the shop's shelves toward a tearoom and gallery where shop personnel can explain the believed health benefits of certain blends, such as using rooibos tea to treat allergies or soaking in a bathtub of tea to help one swear off coffee. Each of the store's loose-leaf varieties can steep inside Special Teas Inc.'s lineup of glass teapots that boast neat pours and can hold up to 1.6 litres.
The Well's multifunction store infuses earth and body healthfulness into a retail area, café, public creative space, and live-performance venue. Guests head to The Side Bar DeCafe to peruse a health-conscious menu generously seasoned with gluten-free food options. Wrap hands around a roasted chicken ($6.75) or vegetable sandwich ($6.50), both cloaked, like most runway models, in a warm ciabatta roll. Gluten-free crepes stuff themselves with seasonal fruits and dance in drizzles of chocolate ($6.95). Infiltrate sweet mugs of frog-friendly drip coffee ($2.23–$2.66). This Groupon can also be applied toward swathing soul sacks in environmentally conscious and recycled clothing, such as light coats (average $20) and men's T-shirts ($12+).