A spotlight on local businesses we love. by Susan Millar in Business • 1st June 2016
Banana Lab has thrived and grown in this community from its humble beginnings three years ago in a 400 square foot space on 6th Street to its new roomy location in Sapperton. Selling unique, ‘upcycled,’ and refurbished home decor items and furniture, the business relies on the fine arts sensibility of Jin, and the technical capability of her husband, Won. Beautifully re-furbished mid-century teak furniture is their principle inventory, though you’ll also see pieces such as a flamboyant lamp made from an old-style red phone, a wall clock made from a record player, and shelves of consignment items from local craftspeople, too.
Banana Lab is the duo’s first business, and Jin says that New Westminster is a great incubator for start-up companies because of its comparatively cheap space and less competitive market than Vancouver. The city’s central location in the Lower Mainland is also great for attracting customers from the surround- ing areas. With so much happening here now and with the in flux of people from Vancouver and elsewhere, Jin is upbeat about doing business here. Her advice to entrepreneurs:
Have a clear vision of what you want to do.
New shop bears creative fruit
Mario Bartel / New Westminster NewsLeader
AUGUST 23, 2013 12:00 AM
The Banana Lab doesn't sell fruit, much to the dismay of one elderly customer who popped in recently looking for healthy nibbles.
Instead, Jin has stocked the little shop she just opened on 3rd Avenue with all manner of unique art, vintage and new furniture items and unusual upcycled decor pieces like clocks made from bike wheels.
When Jin and her husband Won were brainstorming a name for their new venture, they wanted something to express their own eclectic sense of style. The banana, says Jin, seemed a perfect model.
"It's a fun fruit. It's bright yellow. Everyone loves bananas, it stays in your mind."
And because they never know where their creative impulses will take them, what kind of items they may stumble upon while sourcing garage sales, friends' storage lockers or online classifieds, their inventory is an ongoing experiment; hence the lab. Jin is an artist who studied printmaking at Hongik University in Korea. After years working for other people in Vancouver, the couple moved to New Westminster and decided to strike out on their own.
The colourful paintings on the walls are Jin's but she's actively seeking other local artists to display and sell their work.
"As an artist, I had a hard time to survive," says Jin. "I want to be able to create opportunities for them."
She and Won also do most of the upcycling themselves, mining the internet for ideas and then imparting new style and purpose to otherwise everyday items.
"Thinking of new ideas is always easy," says Jin. "But making them is a challenge."
The shop's quirky wares and cheeky window display have already caught the eye of passersby venturing just off 6th Street; Jin says one stuck her head in the door enquiring whether the soft cottony clouds in the window were actually lamps.
"I like to think of the things here are treasures," says Jin. "They aren't easy to find."
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5 MUST VISIT ANTIQUE SHOPS IN VANCOUVER AND NEW WESTMINSTER
Gabriela Torres | May 10, 2017
Contrary to what one might believe, Banana Lab is not a fruit wholesaler. In fact, one can most likely find anything in this store but fruit. This small shop is fully stocked with vintage furniture and repurposed home decor. For example, clocks made from bicycle wheels! Each item is carefully selected by owners, Jin and Won. They decided to name their store “Banana Lab” because of their mingled sense of style and bright vision for business. As creators, Jin and Won not only sell repurposed vintage items but also support artists by displaying locally made art in the store. In addition to browsing through an array of unique items, one can also find beautifully crafted art at Banana Lab!
Upon closer inspection, the items found in antique shops are so much more than cluttered piles of “junk.” Black and white photographs, old fashioned coca cola bottles, refurbished 60s style bar sets, record players, typewriters and strange, somewhat dangerous looking hair curling contraptions bring the stories of a city’s past to the forefront. Like all treasures, those found in Antique shops are worth digging for.