When Lily Ellis and her business partners founded Spruce Collective in Abbotsford’s historic downtown quarter in 2012, they had no idea they’d spark a neighbourhood renewal. “We were pretty much just focused on what we were trying to do, but it’s been awesome to see,” she says. The eclectic store on Montrose Avenue specializes in curated collections of local items, along with vintage treasures, boutique clothing and stationary. At first, empty buildings and for-lease signs surrounded them. But slowly a cluster of hip shops and eateries began to appear. Heritage buildings sprang back to life and a flurry of foot traffic followed. Among the newcomers: The Habit Project, an artisan juicery; Duft & Co. bake house and pizzeria; Old Hand Coffee; The Polly Fox gluten-free bakery; Bureaux Modern Mercantile; Montrose & George General Store and more. Ellis credits a spirit of community among merchants. “We work together to build up each other’s businesses and I think people really find that refreshing,” she says.