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Village stores prepare to celebrate nation's birth

Beatmerchant, Splash Toy Shop, Village Books have big plans for Canada Day

From patriotic apparel and accessories to Canadian-themed music, books, handmade items and even tattoos (both stick-on and of the traditional variety), Steveston is the place to soak in everything the Great White North has to offer this Canada Day.

Before the big bash in the village even starts, customers begin filtering in to the SOS Children's Village BC thrift store about a week before, said long-time manager Barbara High.

"It's mostly clothing. They're buying shorts and T-shirts and anything that has a Canada flag on it," said High. "We have quite a bit of old Olympic gear."

SOS is going to be featuring performances by local talent outside the store every other weekend starting on July 1, kicked off by accordion player Dan Propp.

Another place people can catch live music that day is right in front of the Beatmerchant Record Store.

At press time, owner Frankie Neilson said he hadn't finalized who the acts will be, but patrons can probably expect something acoustic by musicians from around the Lower Mainland.

Inside the store, Neilson expects CDs by the recently-passed Canadian country/folk icons Stompin' Tom Connors and Rita MacNeil to fly off the shelves.

"Anyone that purchases anything on that day gets to put their hand in the goodie bag," said Neilson. "People seem to love that. We have badges, pens, some CDs, I've got some posters to put in. And a few piranhas," joked the London, England native.

It's no surprise that Canadian artists are in particularly high demand this day of the year.

Luckily, Village Books & Coffee House has added a large specialty section in their new location at 130-12031 1 Ave.

"We love our Canadian authors, and Canada reads featured by the CBC or Vancouver Sun," said co-owner Angela Hill, who recommends the funny Vinyl Café series by Stuart McLean.

The book store, formerly known as Gerry's Books, is going through a bit of a re-invention following their move.

Customers will soon be able to enjoy a latté while browsing for their favourite titles after the café portion of the establishment is approved by the health department.

"We're really hoping for July," said Hill. "It's definitely a rebirth - after 20-plus years, we were thinking things need to change."

Nothing goes better with Canadian

authors than Canadian-made items, just some of the many things that can be found on display at the Steveston General Store.

"I'm a second hand store, and a lot of our stock is either local from Richmond or local from B.C. or local in Canada," said owner Chris Carr.

The myriad of items for sale at any time is constantly changing, but depending on timing, browsers can find handmade pottery, carvings and furniture.

"One of my regular customers makes beautiful handmade lampshades, carry bags, recyclable bags for groceries and such, linens."

Carr said sometimes she will carry needlepoint work and embroidery, although that kind of art has fallen by the wayside and no longer fetches the price it once did.

The store originally opened in 1983 and is celebrating their 30th anniversary in July.

There will be a 30 per cent off every-thing sale from July 15 to 20.

For more mainstream Canada Day merchandise, Splash Toy Shop remains one of the best places in town to pick up balloons, flags, banners and just about anything else you can think of, said employee Barb Lamont.

"We've got a whole wall display of Canada memorabilia," she said, adding the porch outside the store is a great place to stand and watch the floats go by.

If there is enough staff, Lamont said they might even do some face painting for the kids.

Over 18 and looking for a more permanent way to express your love for the country?

The Steveston Tattoo Company will be offering one-day-only $100-tattoos.

Owner Ryan Halter said they have several unique pre-drawn designs with a Canadian theme such as maple leafs on skateboards and butterflies, 604 and 778 area codes, and "an old guy turning into a beaver."

Halter opened up the shop in December 2011, and has three other artists.

"Last year we did the same thing. I just came up with the idea, I was like 'lets do some fun, affordable tattoos for people,'" said Halter.

"They'd be really quick ones, probably give or take 20 minutes."

The first 20 people to take advantage of the promotion receive a Steveston Tattoo Company T-shirt.

Steveston merchants prepare to celebrate Canada's 146th birthday this July 1. Stores will be decked out in all their red and white glory with special deals and goodie bags for customers.

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