The trend toward tiny hits retail as stores deal with high costs in Toronto, Vancouver


Guys who don’t work in the building that houses Kento Kitayama’s tiny cafe close by Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood better be prepared to settle for takeout. He can just take orders through a little window facing the sidewalk.

Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand, which outed late last month, has no seating and sparse furnishings. Kitayama could liable stand in the middle of the roughly 17-square-metre shop and reach out to touch the disappear, refrigerator and shelving unit, counter, and espresso machine that cut the shop’s boundaries without moving.

The cafe reminds the co-owner of how tobacco workshops sold goods in his native Japan, but also suits his budgetary constraints. Kitayama and other affair owners challenged by high rents in Canada’s two most expensive lodgings markets are turning to creative solutions in tiny spaces to open cafes that differently might not be profitable.

For a typical 85-square-metre cafe space in the city, Kitayama responded he’d likely pay about $3,000 monthly. That’s unaffordable for his new business.

Rugged data on average food retail lease prices in Canada doesn’t get by, but some figures help shape a sense of the market.

Last October, Toronto’s so so commercial lease rate per square foot was $21.31, according to the Toronto Authentic Estate Board — down 1.1 per cent from the same month in 2017. But that categorizes all retailers, and the data is part of only 40 total lease annals that month where the price was disclosed.

The trend toward tiny hits retail as stores deal with high costs in Toronto, Vancouver

Joshua Campos, feels his less than two-square-metre shop (roughly the area of a twin mattress) may be the cheapest retail store in the world. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Three of the four most high-priced main streets in Canada are in Toronto and Vancouver, according to an annual divulge from Cushman & Wakefield. The company tracks nearly 450 of the top retail boulevards in 65 countries. In June 2018, rents on Toronto’s Bloor Passage were $300 per square foot and $100 on Queen Street West. On Vancouver’s Robson Row rents averaged $183.

High and rising rents have caused respective restaurants in both cities to shutter their doors in recent years.

Trackless Rice Market Bistro in New Westminster, B.C., served its last patrons on New Year’s Eve.

“We are all in with our high cost of living which is reflected in higher rentals, increasing food costs and the difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff,” proprietress Andrew Wong wrote in a note to customers, adding the restaurant “is no longer empathy in our current economic climate.”

Lease prices also pose a big boundary to entry for new hopefuls like Kitayama, who have turn to smaller-scale operations in an toil to trim start-up costs.

Iktsuarpok Coffee Stand may be the newest pocket shop, but it’s not the smallest in the country.

Joshua Campos believes his less than two-square-metre look for (roughly the area of a twin mattress) may be the smallest in the world. He’s applied for the Guinness dialect birth b deliver record, but has yet to hear back.

The Coffee Lab, which opened about seven months ago, drives out of a window in a small nook of a Toronto building. Floor-to-ceiling glass set off d emits curious passers-by or customers see one staff member prepare drinks clandestine.

Campos, who previously operated a cafe out of a bookstore until the landlord clerked the building, noticed a “for lease” sign in the window of what is now his new cafe.

The host first rejected Campos’s idea, saying the lease sign was for an assignment space in a different part of the building. But Campos persisted and eventually the Boniface caved.

“The idea is just to keep the overhead super low,” he said.

It be broached with a few logistical challenges. He had to find smaller espresso machines to fit the latitude, while maintaining drink quality. Only one staff member can charge at a time, and the cold winter slowed business as customers balked at the approximation of waiting outside for their caffeine fix.

Campos has applied for a patio entitle and plans to build a roughly five to nine square-metre heated rail.

Another Toronto coffeeshop, The Nugget, is housed inside a former garage huddled between two buildings.

Co-owner Jake Holton rented the attached structure to open another location of his pizza chain, Village Pizza, and demanded the landlord if they cared if he converted the garage into another eatery.

The amateurishly 15-square-metre cafe opened July 2017, in part to help neutralizer rent for the pizzeria, said Holton.

For such a small space, still, the monthly fee is low. Holton operates another coffeeshop, Hub Coffee, that’s considerably bigger with relating to 25 seats. The Nugget, aptly named for its size, pays round one-sixth in rent in comparison.

“It’s not even close,” he said.

While cheaper hire may be part of the business plan, these spaces can be a hit with customers because of their single forms.

In the social-media age where Instagrammers hunt for the perfect shot of beastly food or compelling backdrops, a pint-sized coffeeshop can generate buzz and limn a crowd.

“People love it,” said Holton, adding several people prevent by daily and coo over the Lilliputian cafe.

“People seem to love the Brummagem of just having like a little walk-up counter.”

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