Angelo Tosi’s Italian Grocery in Chinatown Vancouver

 

It is with great sadness that I write that Angelo Tosi’s grocery story in Vancouver’s Chinatown is now closed and up for sale. Apparently, the property taxes have soared from $23 000 to $40 000. In honor of Angelo’s legacy I repost this post. I am happy to have had my Live Like Water tea shop across the street, and to have been part of his world. Cheers Angelo I still miss you. And thank you for all your advice and letting me photography your world.

Cozy: that’s the warm kind of relationship you’ll develop with Angelo once you’ve tried his cheeses, olives and pasta. His reputation is well established in the community, but it is only though word of mouth that new people discover all he has to offer in his Historic store located at 624 Main Street. I know many have walked passed his darkened shop wondering what goes on in there. And so I want to introduce him to all of you: now it’s up to you to summon your courage and ring the bell to the darkened shop. You must be patient because Angelo is a very hard working man and he is usually busy either in his office or out back preparing wholesale orders for many of the Italian restaurants and cafes in the city. I have had the pleasure of helping him with the local deliveries. It was quiet an amazing feeling driving around in the 1967 green 1 ton truck with a canvas trap. As we drove through the Commercial Drive neighborhood, and along Hastings, many would see the truck and wave. The delivery truck symbolizes the community that the Tosi family has serviced since 1913.

Seeing Angelo in the morning sweeping the front of his store, his eyes sparkling when he sees you coming down the street is a special feeling and this reminds me of my childhood: the days of shopkeepers and buying from the independent merchants along The Main in Montreal. Each shop had its specialty products: bread here, meats there, bagels over there. It wasn’t the one stop shopping like it is now in some wear house that sells everything. For me Angelo is a role model, I fully understand and embrace his work ethic. This man is genuine through and through. Since I have gotten to know Angelo I have realized some of the similarities between us: both of us have created our own personal worlds, the environment in which we work, cool, low lit and we serve with warm hearts because there is a deep love in what we do, and how we do it in this very modern world.

Now that I have joined the ranks of specialty shops, I realize that I am exposing all those who come though the door to a very authentic experience. I am planting memories and smells that will leave an imprint for the next generation. I can only imagine how the young Chinese children will remember the day when their parents brought them to buy tea from the Polish man who dressed in Korean traditional clothing.

Here in our shops, in the environment we have created, we reflect our commitment to a more tradition way of doing business: I can only hope that more people follow their passion and continue to create and share with the community.