If you live in BC, you’ve definitely heard of Dank Mart, the one-stop-shop for unique, exotic, and binge-worthy snacks.
Having recently celebrated the bodega’s one-year anniversary, owner Spensir Sangara said he is proud to be bringing culture to the city.
“When me and my bro first came to this neighbourhood many years ago, they told us that we wouldn’t be able to make it happen because the neighbourhood was going downhill,” said Sangara in an interview with 5X Press.
But Sangara and Amin Shahin “Sean” Shakur, more formally known as Snack Bundles and Snackie Chan, did not let that stop them.
Instead, the duo leased an adjoined property on Main street, later to be home to THC Canada and Dank Mart, which Forbes Magazine dubbed “Canada’s First Independent Cannabis Destination.”
The legendary location soon became a cannabis haven, as Snack Bundles and Snackie Chan capitalized on their dream of linking cannabis and munchies together.
Many travel great lengths to visit the store located in the heart of Vancouver’s Punjabi Market, a booming South Asian hub that is now home to where one can find the “dankest” snacks on the market.
Since the snack joint first opened doors, people from all over the province flocked to the business, including from Abbotsford, Squamish, and even Whistler. Line ups down the block are not an usual occurrence for this popular bodega, and the traction means a lot for the neighbourhood it calls home.
Vancouver’s Punjabi Market was the first and largest South Asian Market in North America. In its peak, it housed over 300 shops and had the first Punjabi-language street signs outside of Asia.
Eventually, high rent and real estate prices drove South Asians east towards Surrey, and communities there outgrew their south Vancouver counterparts.
Sangara and Shakur were among those keen on igniting the culture in the area once again, and have definitely made their mark in doing so.
They both remain role models for young entrepreneurs in the city, and demonstrate that you can truly achieve your dreams if you follow your passion.
However, the road to success is usually a hard one filled with many challenges along the way. But according to Sangara, those L’s are exactly why he’s become so successful.
“To get where I’m at today I had to take a lot of L’s. But once I learned to not react and be grateful for everything… it changed the game for me,” he said.
"Even in the biggest losses, there’s a valuable lesson to take from it,” said Sangara on Instagram.
“Instead of thinking ‘why me’ think hard about how you can turn that lesson into a blessing.”
Sangara and Shakur opened Dank Mart together in April of last year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality.
“Me and my bro talked about this idea for so many years. He used to have a little bong shop in Aberdeen mall. Then one day we were thinking that it would be the perfect compliment to THC next door. We just thought ‘yo, no one can do it better than us,’” he said.
And just like that, Dank Mart was born. Many challenges and an ongoing pandemic later, the pair continue to make history.
“I never dreamed in a million years for Dank Mart to blow up the way it did,” said Sangara. “The COVID pandemic made things a little bit more hectic, but we were always able to find our way around it and kind of put a positive spin on it.”
Although Dank Mart has only been around for one year, its impact on the community has been immeasurable.
Along with THC, the shops are considered to be an integral part of Punjabi Market’s fight to stay alive, who not only fight to preserve South Asian culture in the area, but positively impact the community and its members.
“A lot of people are really positively affected by the store. They come in with big smiles on their faces, and leave so happy,” said Sangara.
With Dank Mart being such a historic part of the community, Sangara says he has plans on expanding.
“We feel that Dank mart is such a legendary store and it deserves to be in other neighbourhoods. Not just one.”
He says he hopes to open multiple locations across Canada and the US. Soon, you’ll be able to shop Dank Mart’s unique snacks ranging from one-of-a-kind cereals, various international candies, and unimaginably flavoured sodas, from multiple locations across North America.
But all great things are seldom achieved alone. Sangara highlights the role of those around him in helping to keep THC and Dank Mart running this past year.
“Blessed to have a super dank team that became like a family to me. [I] couldn’t have kept this going without all of them,” said Sangara, who celebrated the one year anniversary of Dank Mart on April 7.
“Trying my best to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Dank Mart but it’s hard without my brother here...very grateful for the love & support from the community. It’s what keeps me going,” said Sangara in an Instagram post.
Shakur was the victim of a shooting that took place in July of 2020. He is remembered by many as a kind-hearted man who gave back to his community.
“He is the guy who put Dank Mart on his back. We wouldn’t be anything without him. There is no dank mart without Snackie Chan,” said Sangara.
And a year later, it is more than clear that the community and the legacy that the pair have built, will last a lifetime.
About the author: Manisha is a writer and reporter with previous radio and television experience, who is passionate about connecting audiences to the stories and voices that matter to them most. Check her out on Instagram: @exclusivelymanisha