fashion magazine
Community Driven on the Drive
Photography by WAYNE MAH
Brenda McGuire opened Riot Boutique in August 1996 with her mind set on providing local quality items for the eclectic neighbourhood that is Commercial Drive. The concept started off as a boutique for friends and neighbours and has blossomed into a house supporting the local community in two ways - buying from them and selling to them. McGuire saw a gap in the market in the neighbourhood and decided to fill it.

From conception, Riot Boutique has always been about supporting the local art community as well. On any given day musicians, artists and/or designers alike walk through the doors and leave with a small token of the arts. (Or at the very least leave with a great conversation and a good laugh.) Clothing, accessories, art and music are sold in-house creating a culture of community for both Vancouver buyers and sellers.

The entrance to the boutique is inviting. Chairs situated outside encourage customers to hang out, people watch and window shop. Mannequins adorned in edgy and statement pieces greet you as you enter offering a unique take on the mundane t-shirt, dress or jacket. Dotted throughout the shop a collection of local art is hung. If you like it, you can buy it. The eclectic choice of music ringing through your ears as you browse is for sale as well. Feathered earrings, beaded bracelets and bold coloured wallets are just a few of the locally designed accessories displayed in a playful antique trunk. Though small, it is easy to get lost in the visual interest offered.

Being the oldest standing boutique on the drive, the quality of the goods sold at Riot is of utmost importance and has resulted in lasting relationships with customers whom McGuire considers good friends. "We see our customers so much. If I sell them something that is not of quality, I'm going to hear about it. We have customers that have been shopping here since they were 13 and now are young mothers. The transitions we've seen over the years have been amazing". The idea behind the store is to provide clothing that is not only sustainable and local but affordable for friends, neighbours and the community. Customers are guaranteed to walk away with something unique as there are never more than six of the same item in stock.

After 15 years of being in the business, Brenda McGuire feels it is her time to wind down. In her place the equally upbeat and hilariously friendly Carly Tennant will gradually take over. Riot Boutique remains a must-stop for anyone that frequents this unique neighbourhood. If not for the distinctive assortment of fabulous finds, then for the good conversation, laughs and friendly banter that is guaranteed while shopping here. For the repeat customers it is a place to hang out and catch up. For those who have yet to experience Riot Boutique, the door is always open and the community is ever expanding.

You can shop Riot Boutique at 1395 Commercial Drive or visit their website at

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