It's almost impossible to walk into Welks General Store without finding at least four things you didn't know you needed. Charming kitchenware, a giant selection of Swell bottles, gifts for your friend's new baby, stationery for days—it's a treasure trove.
The man behind this cleverly curated Main Street shop is owner John Welk, and we're thrilled to introduce him as the Wildcard category judge for our second annual Made in Vancouver awards. He's a guy with an eye for quality, whatever the form: perfect for a category where anything goes. 
We know he'll be blown away by the entries in this year's competition, but Welk already has been impressed by how local makers have been stepping up their game in recent years. "I find that products being made today are much more polished; before it was a great product with really awful presentation," says Welk. "Now people are making this great product but they are also very cognizant of the importance of packaging and there is some Vancouver-made products that are knocking it out of the park and we are so lucky to get to be a part of that." 
As we wait for entries to come in (deadline is March 13!), we grilled Welk for his Vancouverite hot list. Here are some of his picks. 

john welk

Your go-to cocktail

I'm pretty simple, a gin and soda or an old fashioned. 

Favourite run at Whistler

I got too old and haven't strapped a board to my feet in many years. I have a son now though and I've made a promise to get back out there so that bunny hill has our names all over it.

Perfect Vancouver spot

My Boston Terrier would tell you it's paws down Jonathan Rodgers Park or Spanish Banks. Vancouver is really filled with so many great places though. 

spanish banks

Best place for a drink on a Tuesday night

Before my body decided beer was off limits I'd be at Brassneck, now I'm over at Hail Mary's for my spirited needs. 

Vancouverite you most want to meet

I like meeting anyone with a good story. But I wouldn't be bummed to bump into Jimmy P. to pick his brain for a few ideas.

Best neighbourhood in the city

Mount Pleasant—though I am biased, of course, as there's no place like home. 


Best restaurant in the city

The Acorn. I've never had a bad meal there, I try to eat vegetarian as much as possible so it's always nice to be able to order anything I want on the menu. 
acorn

Best thing you ate this year

I don't eat out as much as I used to. Lately we've upped our home game and homeade pasta with North Van's inGrain Pasta and Vancouver's Sugo Sauce has been my new favourite meal.  
sugo

A hidden gem more Vancouverites should know about 

Bowen Island. It's a short ferry ride and it's paradise.

What’s a perfect treat-yourself day?

I'd start it off at the Federal Store for an Americano and one of their delicious rosemary scones. I'd take my Boston to the park for a little Frisbee. Round up some friends for a game of pitch and putt. Lunch and a drink. A friend has a sailboat, so a nice sail up False Creek out to English Bay. Followed by some BBQ and drinks with friends. Summer is sounding soooo good right now. 

Perfect hangover food

Poutine at the Black Lodge. I don't think they open until later though so you might have to settle for Costco in a pinch. 

Perfect big night out on the town

Our son is 14 months so a nice dinner—I'm thinking Salvio Volpe—and a movie at the Park Theatre would make for a perfect night and a tolerable morning. 
savio

Ready to enter our 2nd annual Made in Vancouver Awards? Submit your entry today—deadline is March 13!