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Former Mount Pleasant business finds new life in Burnaby relocation

(Courtesy John's Jukes, via Facebook)

John's Jukes sold and serviced jukeboxes, arcade games, and pinball machines for 35 years in Mount Pleasant

The business is one of many experiencing rising rents in popular Vancouver suburbs

BURNABY (NEWS 1130) – It’s a familiar story.  A neighbourhood becomes trendy and soon long-time businesses are priced out, forced to move or even close.  But one shop has managed to flourish in a new location.

John’s Jukes sold and serviced jukeboxes, arcade games, and pinball machines for 35 years in Mount Pleasant until new landlords announced plans to raise the rent. Owner John Robertson admits the writing was on the wall once the building changed hands.

“The rent was going to need to go up from our rate to about $30 or $40 a square foot which would, of course, have been unmanageable by us. But they gave us lots of time to find another location.”

He admits he had outgrown the space anyway.

“The old shop was becoming unmanageable,” Robertson says.  “When you have more than two or three people working in it with all the equipment that we have it was becoming claustrophobic.”

John’s Jukes has called Burnaby home since the spring, but Robertson says he does miss the visibility of the old location.

“One of the things that people always said was, ‘I’ve been driving by your shop for years and I’ve always wanted to come in’ because we were right on Main and Kingsway and we had a nice window display and people liked seeing us there.”

Robertson is wistful when talking about his old Main Street location now.  “I’m afraid it’s going to turn into another Fourth Avenue,” he explains.  “Where it’s just pricing itself out of small, diverse shops and becoming more Starbuck-y.”

Still, he has no regrets.

“A lot of our business these days is international.  We’re on the internet and the move didn’t change any of that.”

Those who specialize in commercial real estate aren’t surprised to see what is happening in Mount Pleasant.  Sherman Scott with Collier’s International says taxes may be part of the problem.

“Those costs, more often than not, get pushed on to the tenants.  Because tenants, whether it’s rent going to the landlord or rent going to the property taxes, it comes off their bottom line.  So, I have seen that certainly affect the smaller retailers as well.”

Scott points out while rents in the neighbourhood have risen in the past five years, the past year or so has been a period of relative stability.

John’s Jukes is hosting a grand re-opening at its new Burnaby location today from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.