An Update: Susan contacted me shortyly after this post was written, asking if I could include some information about a house fire that happened in Victoria last week. The three victims of the fire lived just up the street from the Vintage Funk Emporium and were regular customers. Susan wanted folks to know that the fire was caused by a fire in a couch – which they thought they had put out completely but had not. The fire smouldered, re-ignited and eventually set the house on fire. I heard an interview with the parents of one of the victims who also mentioned that the house didn’t seem to have working smoke alarms. Susan asked me to update this as a reminder to others that fire is a tricky and busy thing – you may think you’ve got it under control but you may not. And working smoke detectors are a must – something I would likely not buy used, just to be sure it’s in good working order. Let’s keep the families and friends of the victims in our thoughts and prayers.
While in Victoria last week, I stumbled upon the coolest store ever: The Vintage Funk Emporium, 705 Johnson Street. “The Vintage Funk Emporium.” I know, right?
This is one of those places where you wish you had hours and hours to spend because it would take a day just to peruse everything that’s here. It is chock-a-block full of crazy, awesome, unusual stuff. She had some beautiful kilts, a huge vinyl collection, a fantastic collection of converse all-stars, some really cool vintage toys and a couple of neat record players.
It’s not just the stuff but the way it’s displayed: china cups on a turn table, a row of batman figures on a bookshelf, a display of 45s on a wall that look like a juke box, some puffer-fish hanging from a cool sea-shell light fixture.
The store is owned by Susan L’Heureux who is a friendly, kind and generous person. She describes herself as a life-long collector and when her friends “threatened” to put her on the TV reality show Hoarders, she decided to open a store.
“I went from hoarder to picker overnight,” she laughs.
She hand-picks everything herself and says one of her favourite places is to buy from elderly people who have traveled the world. The most unusual thing she’s sold is a 8 foot wide moose antler rack. Oh ya, and a pickled cobra.
Her store is staffed by volunteers – nearly all of them with some kind of health challenge. She has volunteers who live with the effects of Down Syndrome. She has a volunteer with cancer. Another is a former street person/drug user. Another suffered a breakdown when her son was killed.
“They are just broken angels I have met along the way,” Susan says. “Together we help each other.”
Susan also lives with challenges: ankylosing spondylitis and fibromyalgia are crippling her body and she lives with anxiety and OCD. This is likely what gives her a heart of compassion for others with challenges who need a place to feel welcome, where they can make a meaningful contribution.
Honestly, what I saw was happy, smiling, able people who were happy to chat with me and were eager to share about their shop! The Vintage Funk Emporium is not only a great place to visit and shop, it’s clearly a place that gives back to its community. I highly recommend a visit the next time you’re in our province’s capital!