The store was constructed on a vacant lot that was previously used as a dumpster staging area, transforming an un-used space into a vibrant store, music venue and work shop. The store is housed within three buildings: a showroom, a workshop and a shipping container. Owners Paul and Nick built the off-grid store by collecting construction waste, discarded goods and reclaimed materials and then took the entire thing off-grid using four 250-watt solar panels.

Almost all the wood for the shop, decks, front fence, stage and shop displays came exclusively from a blimp hangar used in the Second World War, which was being stored at a wood mill on the Saanich Peninsula. The wood had been sitting unused, so the duo jumped on it, renting a U-Haul to lug the entire pile of tongue-and-groove lumber away. Wall insulation was taken from renovations around town and the roof shingles are discards taken from a mill that manufactures shingles. The workshop door was found in a junk yard after being taken off of a greenhouse and other doors were found here are there, abandoned as junk. The windows for the buildings were bought online from people who had them leftover from home renovations.

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Even the landscaping around the shop was reclaimed – the trees were taken from a yard after a homeowner told the duo they could have the trees if they were willing to dig them up. So Paul and Nick got to digging, transporting the 8-foot-plus trees in the back of Paul’s van. The landscaping rocks were also loaded into the van, taken from a yard where they were no longer needed.

Just about the only new items in the shop are the paint, screws, some insulation, and a skylight. And although the shop lacks heating, which can mean some chilly winter days, Paul says that “when you get a sunny day in January [the shop is] truly the best place to be.”

The shop includes a water catch to re-use the water that runs off the roof, which is stored in reclaimed garbage cans. According to Paul, the whole process taught them one major rule about building: “Never roof and drink, especially in a climate that rains 8 months of the year.” Words to live by.

+ ANIAN