Arguably one of the oldest original businesses in the neighbourhood, Bianca Maria opened its doors to the public at 2469 East Hastings Street on January 4th 1963. The store was originally owned by two Italian women, Bianca and Maria. The original name of the store was “Bianca Maria Delicatessen”, which later changed to just Bianca Maria once its current owners took over the store in 2001. Bianca is still a regular customer at the store, and is close with the family to this day. We spoke with Nina, who has been with the family-owned shop for eight years now. “I love the interaction with the customers,” Nina tells us. “I love being able to educate the public about all the authentic product and recipes.” With a loyal clientele that spans generations, Nina says her customers are at the heart of what they do. “I enjoy the one on one relationship I build with my customers. They are not just customers, you get to really know them – build that rapport, and continue to have a relationship with them.” Nina’s aunt took over the store in 2001, and has worked there ever since. “My mum also worked with my aunt so the store has been in the family for quite some time now,” she says. “I love that this area still has a small atmosphere to it,” says Nina. “It’s not filled with big box stores. Here you can do a one stop shop. You can go to the deli, and then go to specialty stores for all your groceries. You can complete all of your shopping within a couple of blocks, while supporting local business. I enjoy how it is smaller scale, and how the area is connected.” Bianca Maria is open Monday through Saturday, from 9:00am to 6:00pm. To learn more, visit their Facebook page.