After nearly 20 years the Gibsons Landing Trading Post will be shutting its doors, making way for a Vancouver startup’s first foray onto the Sunshine Coast.
In place of a storefront that rents space to vendors selling antique furniture, records and knick-knacks, the property at 292 Gower Point Rd. will transform into a 780-sq.-metre (8,400-sq.-ft.) “commissary” – a commercial kitchen space rented to food producers – as well as a retail space and restaurant.
Vancouver-based Coho Collective is behind the project. The startup launched in 2017 and now operates three rental kitchens in Metro Vancouver, as well as an online food store and café, and provides small business support.
“We are thrilled to provide affordable, community-focused, and well-equipped spaces for passionate food and beverage makers to do what they love and create what they love,” said Coho Collective CEO Andrew Barnes in a Feb. 1 release announcing their expansion to the Sunshine Coast.
Construction at the site is expected to start early spring with hopes of completion and launch by late summer.
Sunshine Coast developer Longman Developments, which purchased the site two years ago, has partnered on the project, with plans to also build a “restaurant concept” located on the street-facing side of the property, featuring locally sourced ingredients.
“We really want a community-based restaurant,” said Coho Collective’s chief operating officer, Amrit Maharaj.
A retail space is also being developed to sell site-made products.
Company president David Longman, who also co-owns The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery on Gibsons Way, said he is “excited to partner with Coho” to bring a new venture that “supports local food entrepreneurs and startups.”
A waitlist is being developed, with about a dozen Sunshine Coast businesses showing interest, said Maharaj.
The release says the space should be big enough to accommodate 25 food businesses. Rental prices haven’t been established.
The Gibsons location will be Coho Collective’s first rental kitchen outside Vancouver.
Maharaj said the company chose Gibsons based on recommendations from Sunshine Coast advisors (he declined to disclose their names) with years of experience in the food industry.
“They helped us identify that Gibsons and Sechelt have quite a lot of really good food producers that could use a home and a leg up to expand their businesses,” he said. “They really recommended that we come out and take a look. They were right.”
The business reflects a shift towards locally produced food. Despite the outsized hits the hospitality industry has endured, the pandemic has amplified the trend, said Maharaj – as has social media.
“As people order more from home, they’re looking for community-based products because they want to help,” he said. “It’s really shifted.”
For example, the startup opened its latest location on East Georgia Street in Vancouver a week before the province entered lockdown last March. “Things just exploded,” he said.
As for the Trading Post, manager Tanis Kooyman said customers have been arriving at the iconic Gibsons storefront to bid their farewells. She told Coast Reporter she’s “happy to have had the customer support from the community over the years,” and from vendors. “We’re sad, too,” she added.
March 8 will be Trading Post’s last business day. As of yet Kooyman said she hasn’t identified another site to lease. “One door closes, hopefully another will open somewhere else.”