the permanent: vancouver's hidden gem

most recently, we had the pleasure of chatting with MAX COHEN, operations manager & venue sales for THE PERMANENT: the one-of-a-kind dream venue that has vancouverites swooning! including the very dashing MICHAEL BUBLE who just celebrated his birthday at this stunning gem.  

once known as the BC Permanent & Loan Company in 1907, this venue has been brought back to life, beautifully restored, glowing and ready for business. we interviewed MAX to learn more and here's how it went: 

tell our readers what it is that you do, max: 

“well, my title is operations manager and venue sales, but i believe that i do more than sell the space.  i try to help sell a vision for people to imagine. The Permanent is a blank canvas for clients and it’s my job to ensure that they can bring their vision to life with their planners, loved ones, associates etc. whatever it may be: an intimate wedding, a corporate affair for a business, charitable fundraiser, an art show or product launch. The Permanent is a place with endless opportunities and clients of all sorts can work together to bring that vision to life!” 

what inspired you to start this business and to get into the wedding industry?

“my role in the wedding industry happened quite organically. when i was introduced to the space in 2013, it was just being used for film & tv rental. i had a vision of it becoming something more, creating something diverse that the public could enjoy. making this vision a reality wasn’t that simple though, the building required a significant amount of structural updates to meet city codes, plus additional renovations required to be an event hall, months or restorations to achieve it’s original beauty, and of course needing approval for permits and licenses. in total, we spent over two years making this all happen. what really kept me inspired throughout the process was the love of the building’s unique history and beautiful architecture. plus i love working with passionate people who can bring so much creativity to the space. i’ve always said, The Permanent is not just a building for vancouver, it’s a building for the world”

tell our readers about you. what do you do for fun? personality type?

“i try to be personable, friendly, and passionate. i love to hang out with friends and family, make music, work out, and play basketball. honestly though, over the past few years, Eric Cohen, my father and business partner and i have poured our blood, sweat, and tears into this project. literally! So, i try to remind myself to have fun, but really, working with the whole team at the venue is what i do for fun. i eat, sleep, and breath The Permanent. the best part of the week is Monday, coming back to work with an incredible team, debriefing the weekend’s past event and gearing up for what’s coming up next!”

what sets this venue apart from the competition?

“The Permanent is not some big, generic hotel. this intimate venue with its deep historical background, once being a bank in 1935 and now a venue hall really makes people’s heads turn.  it's Vancouver's best kept secret, a stunning hidden gem, and soon will be a relevant landmark for the city. all the lighting and design details including the crystal doorknobs from Renew Gallery, are carefully curated to wow clients and guests. there is even a secret access in the basement where once bankers went down to their office, and today can be used, for example as a VIP entrance during a special event. Its minor details like that, let alone its beauty and personality that separates us from the competition.”

what can couples expect when they come to see you or hire you for your services? what do you normally say to brides and grooms?

“firstly, and most importantly i say congratulations! sure, the dream venue and dream wedding is important, but getting married to the person you love and spending the rest of your life with them is the most important gift of all. obviously! and, not only from me, but also Nicole Daniels, The Permanent’s Events Manager, and Chris Chuy, The Permanent’s Beverage Manager. clients can expect passionate individuals who love their job and want clients to experience great and memorable moments. from first entering the venue for the original site tour to the morning after the event, we want our clients to reflect on what a great experience they had throughout!”

what areas of your job are most fulfilling?

“weddings for sure. working with an array of different vendors collaborating together makes it very rewarding. also, seeing the smiles on the bride & groom’s faces at the end of the day makes it so worth it! still though, even when the front door is open and i am waiting for a meeting, seeing facial expressions of pedestrians walking on the sidewalk peeking in and seeing the skylight dome in shock, reminds me all the time, how happy i am that the building was saved.”

any advice for potential clients/vendors in the industry?

"when it comes to clients, my advice is all relevant to using the space and i would be sure to tell them to be ready for a one of a kind event! when it comes to vendors, it’s me who should be receiving the advice. by all means, i am no seasoned vet. everyone who i have met so far in the industry has been so encouraging and helpful.  with all the advice i’ve been receiving and the amount that i’ve learned already, i’m aiming for rookie of the year!”

how do you make a client wedding memorable?

“this venue can be customized to fit all needs, from colors, theme, to decor. your wedding planner will have the ability make it come to life. like a car, from the tinted windows, rims, type of air freshener in it, it’s your yours to make your own!”

anything else you would like to say about yourself and the permanent?

“this is not a temporary plan. like a lot of businesses in Vancouver, pubs and differents club type facilities for example, they close down after a year or two if they don’t jive. we are different. we have a 100 year plan in place and plan to make it permanent, hence the name. we will do everything in our power to make sure this enterprise lasts here forever! it’s the heartbeat of the block and we're not planning on stopping its beating anytime soon. the historical background of the building, people of Vancouver and the world need to know. not only that, but everyone should have the opportunity to attend an event here and raise a toast and soak up the positive energy the building portrays. lastly, personally speaking, after every event when everyone is gone, and i close the doors, i know The Permanent ancestors from back in the day are happy, knowing that their precious building is up and more alive than ever.”

for those who are seeking more info about this stunning venue, please contact Max Cohen. 

stay tuned for a venue tour with Max, coming soon but for now, show some love and get social with The Permanent and swoon over the venue pictures below! 

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330 West Pender St, Vancouver, BC