If you’ve ever caught yourself sitting and longing for the “good old days” then look no further than Unity Osoyoos’ brand-new store expansion.
Unity Clothing — a fan-favourite local clothing brand since 1997 — recently purchased the unit next door to its downtown store location (8519A Main St. Osoyoos), knocked down the walls and made some incredible upgrades and additions that you don’t want to miss.
While the store is still entrenched in skate culture and has all the latest Unity gear, it’s added some new installations that serve almost like exhibits at a museum — features that pay homage to Osoyoos’ history while also taking you on a walk down memory lane to those vintage “good old days” you might fondly remember.
When expansion became a possibility, the gears started turning for Jamie Elder — owner and founder of Unity — who was inspired to add some throwbacks to some of the “coolest things he’s ever seen” in pop culture.
More importantly, Elder saw an opportunity to bring some local-area history back to life.
“People that lay the groundwork for places like [Osoyoos] don’t always receive the appreciation they deserve,” Elder tells Destination Osoyoos. “It was hard-working people that built these places from the ground up.”
Elder added he was inspired to give a little nod to history and “pay tribute to amazing people,” with the newly expanded space while also creating a connection to childhood.
So what are these new exhibits and what do they represent?
60s Motel Lobby
The centrepiece of the new store is the bright, blue and white 60s motel lobby. The 1960s was the dawn of the tourist industry in the small town of Osoyoos BC and motels like Safari Beach, the Starlite Motel (which later added the Starlite Marina) and the Rialto — an establishment formerly located where the Owl Pub is — all served a significant purpose in growing the town and local tourism.
In addition to the historical relevance of motels, Elder also has a sheer love for their aesthetic including the colour choices and schemes, and the layouts and features in their lobbies.
Taking this into consideration, and using the help of some friends in the community, he built an homage to these motels in the back of the Unity store.
While the Motel sign lights up and can be seen through the windows from the street, you will want to go inside the store and check out the memorabilia on display inside the mock lobby. This is where the inner child inside you will get the chills.
The story behind Mook’s Café is an incredible one and when doing research for the store expansion, became important to Elder that he share it.
Mook’s Café was a former business in Greenwood (located an hour east of Osoyoos) and is connected with Japanese internment camps from World War II. Kenji and Shirley Mukai were two of the Japanese Canadians uprooted from their lives in Steveston, BC and incarcerated in Greenwood — home to one of these camps. Ken and Shirley defiantly chose to stay in the community when the war ended and went on to open Mook’s Snackbar in 1947… later Mook’s Café in 1958. Mook’s was a very special business to the people of Greenwood but even more so to the Japanese members of the community because it was a place they could call their own.
Elder said was inspired by the full story of Mook’s Cafe and worked hard to research its history, connect with descendants of the Mukai family and resurrect this place “that was so important to so many people.”
The authenticity and attention to detail in this display are spot-on, with items sourced from historical photos – right down to the soup machine. The Mukai family even donated a stack of ketchup cups from Mook’s heyday.
For more on the full story, you’ll have to visit the store!
It isn’t very often you walk into a store and find a vehicle inside as part of a display. It is even rarer for that vehicle to be a 1982 Japanese Hearse. For that alone, it is worth popping into the Unity store to see this vehicle — complete with gold detailing — parked among the clothing racks.
Elder says that he came about buying the hearse as a complete fluke after overhearing a conversation about it being for sale. He literally jumped at the opportunity and purchased the vehicle after simply seeing a picture — something he says he has never done before — because “how often do you get a chance to buy a hearse?”
The vehicle is functional and was driven right into the store for the world to enjoy.
Oh did we mention that the hearse is parked in a DJ booth?
Right at the front of the Unity store, you will find two seats salvaged from Osoyoos’ old Sunland Theatre.
The theatre, which was built in 1947, used to be the residents of the building that Unity currently resides in. Its first-ever film was “A Song to Remember” starring Cornel Wilde, Paul Muni and Merle Oberon in Technicolor. Admission was 50 cents.
When you visit Unity, take a moment to check out the exterior of the building and then the pictures of Sunland Theatre as part of the exhibit. You will see not a whole lot has changed on the outside.
Other Nostalgic In-Store Features To Look For
- E.T. hanging from the ceiling
- A skateboard designed for former Price Is Right host, Bob Barker
- A signed picture from Bob Barker thanking Unity for the skateboard
- Pictures of hip-hop group Public Enemy performing in Unity attire
- A boombox tower
- The company’s working, wall-mounted rotary business phone
- A Millenium Robot
- A-Team action figures
- A Gremlins lunchbox