LOCAL FLAVOUR: Red Brick owner sees huge potential in Downtown New Westminster
Michael Richardson believes downtown New Westminster is on the brink of greatness. So much so he moved to the city on Christmas Eve and in April opened his new contemporary furniture shop, Red Brick, at the corner of Sixth Street and Carnarvon.
It’s a script that’s played out well for him before. Originally from Windsor, Ontario, he opened another furniture store, Icon, in a neglected part of that industrial city that he felt was poised for a renaissance; by the time he moved west eight years ago, it had expanded from 1,500 square feet to more than 13,000 square feet.
New West has even more potential, says Richardson. “It has a heart yet it feels very urban. And it’s got great retail spaces.”
He visited a lot of those spaces, like Copp’s Shoes and the refurbished BC Electric building, to absorb the city’s vibe as he searched for a space for his new venture. And when it came time to outfit his store, he plied the antique shops that remain on Front Street. A huge collage of photos taken around New West dominates the wall behind his sales counter.
In fact, with the city’s heritage character, its walkability and its easy proximity to the rest of Metro Vancouver, Richardson says he’s amazed New Westminster isn’t already the jewel of the Lower Mainland.
“I can’t believe it’s not where everybody wants to go hang out.”
But with the arrival of new residents in new condo developments, and the construction of a new movie theatre and retail complex at the Eighth Street SkyTrain station and the new multi-use civic centre on Columbia Street, he’s confident the Downtown has enough momentum to finally achieve its potential.
It’s just that mix of heritage and contemporary that drives the aesthetic of Red Brick, where vintage shipping crates, RCMP horse blankets and funky flannel pillows accent low-slung couches and sleek steel and glass dining sets.
“It’s exciting to be part of change,” says Richardson.