Portobello West moves into the Olympic Village

Vancouver Sun, March 9, 2011

Portobello West has undergone a dramatic face lift just in time for its spring launch. The monthly market of local artisans and designers has become a non-profit society, moved to Creekside Community Centre in the Olympic Village and hired a new coordinator from Montreal.

It will open in the new location with 75 vendors including some regulars and some new faces the last weekend in March.

Rosemary Marland Lennox will take over from founder Carlie Smith who is expecting her first child. Smith started Portobello West five years ago in the Plaza of Nations and soon moved to the Rocky Mountaineer. She modeled the business after Portobello Market in London and showcased hundreds of designers and artisans over the years.

Smith says that as a non-profit, shoppers won’t see much difference, but behind the scenes she expects the vendors to take on a bigger role in the organisation and she is pleased to work more closely with the city. The big difference is that the society will provide educational opportunities for the artisans to develop their businesses.

“That is a real weakness for a lot of the vendors,” she says. “We will give them more support to get them beyond being a hobby artist to becoming a profitable business.”

Lennox comes to Portobello West with a background in both the arts and in non profit organisations. Smith will remain on the board.

Unlike the Rocky Mountaineer, the new location is on several major bus routes and the Skytrain. It boasts a lot of natural light and will invite walk and cycle-by business because it is right on the seawall.

“The new venue is so beautiful,” says Smith. “The Rocky Mountaineer served us well, but we feel like it is time for a change.”

Portobello West’s spring launch happens March 26 and 27 at the Creekside Community Centre from 11am-5pm, admission is $2 for non-members. After this the market happens the last Sunday of every month (with two day markets in November and December). For more information please visit www.portobellowest.com.