Community Partner:

DTES Street Market

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) Street Market runs every Sunday at Pigeon Park, Saturdays at 501 Powell St. and Monday through Friday at Area 62. It supports hundreds of vendors (currently more than 800) to be more independent and to make much needed extra money for themselves to supplement low welfare rates. With their boots on the ground, and the community in mind, the DTES Street Market Society is a remarkable example of social innovation and social enterprise. Alongside creating safe and legal spaces for survival vending, the DTES Street Market is building community capacity by offering regular volunteer positions with stipends, combatting social isolation and economic exclusion, and enhancing local serving retail.

Currently the DTES Street Market operates at 25% breakeven, and is subsidized by the City of Vancouver, the Central City Foundation and others. Recognizing the broad spectrum of social and economic benefits produced by the DTES Street Market, the City of Vancouver has recently found the market a new, permanent home at 501 Powell St. near to Oppenheimer Park. With the market move, new challenges and opportunities include increased legal vending on multiple days of the week, new partnerships and programming engagements.It remains to be seen if the DTES Street Market will become a profitable enterprise while increasing the number of income generation opportunities they provide, and if  they will be seen as valuable part of the community in their new home at 501 Powell St.

The scope of our work with Supporting a Vibrant Market Expansion project is to:

  • Help the DTES Street Market Society to refine their business model and work towards breakeven on their weekly operating costs,
  • Provide decision support for new income generating activities for the market through financial analysis, and
  • Expand income-generating opportunities for vendors and volunteers – aiming to create 10-15 new, sustainable stipended volunteer positions.

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Attract a wider diversity of customers to the market;
  2. Increase the average income to low-income vendors; and
  3. Expand the number of sustainable stipended volunteer positions at the market.