Alma Home & Vintage is a home goods shop located in the heart of Vancouver’s eclectic Dunbar neighbourhood. We recently sat down with business owner Alisa Stephenson to learn more about Alma Home & Vintage and to explore how her transition from home business to brick and mortar shop has transformed the way she works.
Megan: Hey Ali, thanks for connecting with us for the very first installment of SPACES! I’m excited to learn more about Alma Home & Vintage and explore your store.
Let's start at the beginning. How did you get into this line of work?
Ali: Alma Home was born out of my love for vintage. I’ve been collecting vintage pieces for over a decade, adding to my personal collection. I ended up with a real surplus and started selling pieces on marketplace and craigslist. I didn’t intend to build a business, but there was so much interest that I decided to make it official and launch the Alma Home & Vintage brand in 2020.
Megan: Tell me more about your passion for vintage goods.
Ali: With vintage, every item is so unique. These aren’t just regular cookie cutter items you would find in a department store. I love that each item has been passed down through generations and has its own history. Really, it's always just been a passion of mine to collect.
Megan: It shows! The incredible selection of vintage pieces is one of the reasons why Alma Home has become so recognizable. How do you curate such a great selection of products?
Ali: I focus on sourcing items that I really truly love and that I think others would enjoy in their homes. We’re pretty selective about the items that we bring in, and by selecting those that evoke excitement and emotion, we’re able to maintain a very curated look.
Megan: You recently opened a brick and mortar shop on Dunbar Street after operating out of a garage space for a few years. How has the transition to this space impacted the business?
Ali: We were able to accomplish so much more by moving into a permanent storefront. The space allows us to showcase larger vintage pieces, and we can now incorporate smaller home goods into the mix. It allows customers to explore the storefront before purchasing, take their time, and enjoy the process.
Megan: When you were scouring the city for a brick and mortar space, what were you looking for? Any must-have items on your checklist?
Ali: We wanted to create an inviting store that was also functional. I found this space accidentally - I was heading home from a sourcing trip when I saw the “For Lease” sign. I liked that the storefront had a wide door and lots of surrounding street parking for accessibility. Behind the retail space is a garage, which I knew would be the perfect storage space for larger items that were awaiting pickup. It was so rare to find a storefront with this design and in this neighbourhood. It was a no-brainer, we just had to take it.
Megan: Walk me through the space. What was the vision for the storefront?
Ali: We wanted to cultivate a welcoming and cozy atmosphere where we could mix vintage and new items, incorporating the two together. Our vision was to create a space with a curated, cohesive look, and one where people can spend time, look around and enjoy themselves. We added lots of shelving, and made sure to fill each one with lots of items to look at to keep the customer experience fun and inviting.
Having a physical store has also allowed us to expand our home good selection - we now offer plants, books, lifestyle goods, home decor, and seasonal gifts in addition to small and large vintage goods.
Megan: Did you make any significant design changes when you took over the new space?
Ali: Our goal was to use the existing features as much as possible. We removed the tile ceiling and carpets and added a fresh coat of paint. We even thrifted many of the fixtures in the space, combining new fixtures with vintage ones.
Megan: I imagine sustainability factors into a lot of the decisions you make - both for the goods themselves and the storefront.
Ali: Totally. Sustainability is a huge part of Alma Home. We really love breathing new life into items, ensuring they have a continued use. Even for new items, we try to incorporate locally sourced goods whenever possible.
Megan: What about the exterior of the shop? Did you make any changes there?
Ali: It was important that the storefront look cohesive with the Dunbar neighbourhood while simultaneously standing out. We repainted the exterior a vibrant mint colour, following the recommendation of many neighbouring businesses, who’ve done the same to add a pop of colour to stand out on quieter, rainy days.
Megan: Thanks Ali, it was great to connect with you to chat all things Alma Home, and to talk more about your workspace. Anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Ali: Thanks for having me! To learn more about Alma Home & Vintage, check out our website, Instagram, or visit the store in person at 4315 Dunbar Street, Vancouver. We’re open from Wednesday to Sunday, 12 - 4 PM.
Explore Alma Home & Vintage