Side Glance With Al Tee – Honest Nat’s Department Store – History On Fraser Street

26 Mar

HonestNat'sDept.StoreSometimes travelling around East Van, it feels like being part of something on National Geographic or History Channel. One of those programs about lost civilizations. Worlds that no longer exist and what fragments remain.

There’s an old radio jingle that’s an example of the lost world of East Van. The ad was for Honest Nat’s Department Store and if you’ve lived here long enough you know what three words follow the store’s name.

But beyond the jingle there’s no history of a department store that once was an anchor on the principal commercial ribbon of East Vancouver. Located at 6394 Fraser, Honest Nat’s was the brainchild of Nathan Lacterman. A prairie orphan who escaped Winnipeg and came West, Lacterman made several unsuccessful stabs at the retail business in Vancouver.  Then a chance visit to Toronto lead him to stumble across the famed discount store Honest Ed’s at Bloor and Bathhurst. Inspired, Honest Nat’s was born.

Honest Nat’s department store would last at 48th and Fraser for 40 plus years. Supporting the community, sponsoring teams, doling out balloons to customer’s kids, Honest Nat Lacterman acted as the unofficial mayor of Fraser Street. Eventually Honest Nat fell ill and his daughter took over. But Fraser Street started to change. A Superstore came in at the bottom of Fraser along Marine Drive. When Nat’s daughter started hearing patrons tell her that they’d looked all over town for an item they couldn’t find, but knew Honest Nat’s would have it, she saw the writing on the wall. Why weren’t they coming straight to Honest Nat’s in the first place?  Honest Nat’s Department Store closed in 1989 and the building was sold. Shortly afterwards, it was destroyed by fire.

All that remains now of Honest Nat’s Department store is this artifact, the jingle.

By Contributing Writer: Al Tee

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