Is the closure of a long time Vancouver shop a signal of things to come?
City Caucus is very pleased to welcome the literary stylings of Vancouver broadcaster Marty Strong!
There’s a Persian rug store on Cambie Street at King Edward, not far from my house. It’s been there for years though I don’t think I’ve ever actually been in it. But driving by yesterday I noticed there were signs in the windows saying they were going out of business and all the carpets were on sale.
Sure, I’ve heard that one before – another going out of business sale. This time it seemed real however as the inventory looked ravaged. There were empty spots where Oriental rugs had been previously stacked in thick piles. A huge “for lease” sign was affixed to the upper floor windows. Yes, this time it was for real.
Like dealing with a friend who is constantly threatening suicide, I guess I had just tuned out – not realizing that all those previous “going out of business” threats were in fact a cry for help.
I should have seen the signs.
It’s just another transition for a quiet, yet iconic corner on Vancouver’s Cambie corridor – a precursor to the incredible change we’re about to see on that stretch of Cambie between the King Edward Canada Line station and Oakridge.
One just has to look at the “for sale” sign on a residential house on King Ed, just east of Cambie and about a hundred yards from the carpet store. This particular “for sale” sign isn’t referring to that single house, it’s referring to an entire block of houses which are being sold together by the individual homeowners as one unit, and will likely be gobbled up by developers eager to take advantage of redefined zoning laws and build new condos.
Real estate is a hot topic these days amongst my neighbours. We’ve all heard the stories of little bungalows along the Cambie corridor selling for north of 2 million dollars. These were homes you could buy for a third of that before the construction of the Canada Line system was announced.
Where does it end? That unfortunately is a scenario we humans are not all that good at seeing. If it is indeed a bubble, it will remain invisible to all those but a chosen few. Those few will be madly blogging about it and preaching their gospel of “sell now” at cocktail parties, desperate to be proven right. And even if history does prove their predictions about a real estate crash to be correct, we’ll still find them annoying and usually find a way to avoid them at the party.
The cruel truth is that a bubble does not become visible until that bubble has popped, leaving drops of soapy fluid on the ground that we will be slipping and sliding on for years (as we make our way to the bank to renew our mortgages at a higher interest rate, realizing just how much money we owe on a property that suddenly doesn’t seem as sexy as it once had).
Last year, when my family and I were pondering a move out of Vancouver, the line I heard more than once was “don’t sell your house, you’ll never get back in.” It almost made sense, until I looked at the mountain of cash we would be leaving town with. Thankfully I haven’t had to make that decision yet…and the abstract concept of my net worth remains a fictional number.
So for now I remain a Vancouver homeowner. At least I know where to buy a carpet for cheap. I should ask why they’re shutting down the business though. Maybe they know something I don’t.
- post by Martin Strong