In a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood under continuous and tumultuous change, Kingsgate Mall still stands.
Occupying a corner piece of land where East Broadway meets Kingsway in Mount Pleasant, Kingsgate has long been a community hub that still embraces the “come as you are” attitude the neighbourhood had long before the hipsters in the aughts moved in.
“You don’t have to go anywhere else. All you need is here,” Glenn Anderson, Facility Operator at Kingsgate Mall, told Daily Hive Urbanized. “It’s pretty much a one-stop shop.”
Anderson decorated the mall for the fall season, stringing autumnal leaf garlands and cut-out pumpkins from the ceiling. Shoppers whiz beneath the maple leaves on their way to stock up on beers at the BC Liquor Store or get their prescription from the Shoppers Drug Mart.
Kingsgate Mall puts a lot of effort into its holiday events. This winter, kids can take pictures with Santa for $10 – and parents will recognize that’s more affordable than anywhere else in the city.
The now 50-year-old mall is home to a mix of mom-and-pop shops amidst big box stores. If this mall were a person, Anderson says it would be a down-home, blue-collar worker. “We welcome everyone here.”
To get a glimpse of the heart of this mall, you need only pass by the BCLC Lotto Centre.
You’ll see folks gathered at nearby tables playing KENO together. You’ll hear a charismatic BCLC employee helping the regulars get their scratch tickets, moving as fast as a bartender on a busy night.
“Are you doing okay?” the attendant asked me as I paid for a Lotto Max ticket with one extra. “I’m doing great, just waiting for someone to win this $70 million jackpot,” I said.
“You’re waiting for you,” he said. “You’re the one who’s going to win. When you came here, you had no chance. And now, you have a chance!” I haven’t experienced kind words or genuine care while buying a lottery ticket before.
And that spirit of care and community abounds.
“How’s my sparkling girl?” one mall regular asked a girl working at the Chai69 Cafe, the only food service establishment in the mall. “I’m okay,” the girl replied. “You’re not okay. Where’s that smile?” the mall regular asked.
Even celebrities like the Arkells and Tegan and Sara have a soft spot for the mall.
They filmed a music video for “Teenage Tears” after hours here with the Arkells. Kingsgate’s Anderson said he liked how the setting fit the song so well.
Apart from playing KENO or filming a music video, there’s a ton to do at the mall.
From high-tech VR gaming at Zero Latency and grocery shopping at Buy-Low Foods to vintage shopping at STOXX Vintage or browsing rent-to-own furniture at Easyhome – you won’t find this eclectic mix of retailers anywhere else.
As condos pop up around Kingsgate like mushrooms after the rain, the mall’s future is uncertain. It’s owned by the Vancouver School Board, and trustees have talked about developing it to include housing.
For now, its existence feels like a radical resistance that puts community first – a rarity in Vancouver.
- You might also like:
- Weird and wonderful Kingsgate Mall featured in music video