Upstart & Crow: Granville Island’s New Bookshop

This week, Granville Island gained an exciting new venture: Upstart & Crow, a bookshop that “exists to share stories and to support the literary arts in Vancouver and beyond.” Founded by the Vancouver Writers Fest’s Marketing Director and literary publicity whiz, Zoë Grams, and writer and social entrepreneur, Ian Gill, Upstart & Crow features a wide collection of carefully curated books, gifts and artwork right in the heart of the cultural hub.

Visitors will immediately feel welcomed into the open and inviting space, delighted by the full shelves and subtle scent of cedar as a result of a floor-to-ceiling cedar wall in the space. Books cover all surfaces and are interspaced with earth-toned candles and journals; arrangements that beg to be browsed. With a focus on independent publishers and underrepresented voices, there is something for everyone to be found in these stacks. Says Zoë of the curation, “We wanted this shop to introduce writers to people who might not have known them otherwise.” With some titles selling out in the first two days of opening, it seems like the shop is already achieving its goal.

Organized by reading experience instead of simply by genre, visitors can browse across time and place, seeking out something they might not have even known they were looking for. From Deep Dives: intriguing perspectives on the important and esoteric, to Love: books about the most important thing in the world, the stories you’ll find span every feeling under the sun and beyond. Wanting to create a space that felt like “Vancouver’s living room: comfy, cozy and inspiring,” Zoë and Ian have not only manifested this feeling in the physical realm, but in the mental one, as well.

The shop also features specially selected gifts from a wide variety of primarily women-owned small businesses. From Somaj’s gorgeous stationery to hand-foraged plant-based skincare from Sḵwálwen Botanicals, you are sure to find the perfect accompaniment to your new read. Carefully curated just like the books, the featured products are small-batch and ethically sourced, something that was of high importance to the shop founders.

With future plans to feature Writers in Residence in the upstairs mezzanine as well as hand-crafted stories written on the fly and intimate readings, this is not your average bookshop. Be sure to stop by Upstart & Crow the next time you visit Granville Island; you won’t leave empty-handed.

Upstart & Crow
1387 Railspur Alley, Granville Island
Open Tuesday–Sunday

Photos by Olivia Leigh Nowak.


Lauren Dembicky