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Mardi Gras Umbrellas!

If there’s a place that knows umbrellas, it’s New Orleans. This spectacular hub of Mardi Gras not only knows how to party, but also knows how to put on a good show of colour. When you think of those city streets, the image that comes to mind is fun masks, sparkling beads, and of course, umbrellas! So why are umbrellas so prevalent in this area? We thought we’d look into the history of colourful, beautiful umbrellas throughout New Orleans.

Some think it odd to celebrate death, but in New Orleans, that’s part of the magic of the area. When a person dies, they can choose a traditional jazz funeral that involves a musical procession to guide you to the afterlife. The first line of mourners is traditionally comprised of close family members who would follow the coffin through the streets. Following the first line is the second line, which moves through the procession swirling handkerchiefs, umbrellas and parasols while performing a traditional dance.

There are some questions around why umbrellas are involved in the process, but the main assumption is that New Orleans has a super hot climate, so parasols and umbrellas were used to protect from the sun during long processional walks. This type of dance is thought to have originated in Africa where children danced on the edge of adult dance circles, and unfortunately, when slaves were brought to the south of the US, these dances were incorporated with military brass bands.

But these days, there doesn’t have to be a funeral to make a parade. These dances are now part of Mardi Gras and New Orleans jazz culture, and umbrellas have become entrenched in that history. And Mardi Gras umbrellas have become louder and more fantastic than you ever could imagine! There are pom poms, wild colours, fluffy and feathered trims, and so much more. Options are endless, and while lots of shops sell wild umbrellas, you can also make your own! Check out Pinterest for tons of ideas for the perfect Mardi Gras umbrella, or for when you just feel like a little punch of style.

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Does it "Rain Cats and Dogs?"

Here at the Umbrella Shop, we love all things rain. We like big sloppy drops. We love that pelting down type that nearly hurts your skin. We can’t get enough of a slow, persistent drizzle. And over the years, we’ve heard our customers calling rain countless different things, which is natural when we see so very much of it.

But the one catchphrase for rain that we hear the most often is that it’s “Raining Cats and Dogs.” And there are lots of different potential origins for this term, so we thought we’d look at a few of them more closely.

The term “raining cats and dogs” was first used in the 1600s in a book, and then it caught on! Even famous author Jonathan Swift used the term in one of his literary tomes. In fact, Swift is one of the potential originators of the term…he wrote a poem titled “City Shower,” which described how after heavy rains that resulted in flooding, dead street animals, usually cats and dogs, would flow through the streets. Not exactly a nice image, is it?

Another idea is that “raining cats and dogs” stems from Norse mythology. Norse god of storms, Odin, seemed to keep a lot of company with dogs and cats, and witches perpetuated the black cats that would fall from the sky. Hmm. We think this concept sounds a little more dubious.

Or what about old England? There’s another idea that “raining cats and dogs” comes from the origins of thatched roofs. We’ve all seen them—roofs that appear to be made of tightly packed straw. Apparently cats and dogs liked to nestle themselves into the roof material since it was nice, warm, and dry. And then when it rained heavily, those pets would slip right from the roof. This seems plausible enough.

So what do you think? Where did the term come from? One thing’s for sure…the next time it rains cats and dogs, come get an umbrella. Heck, we even have ones with doggy prints!

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How Rain Works

The Umbrella Shop staff love rain. We obsess over it. Can’t get enough of it. Want to splash in it, drink it and play in it. And what kind of umbrella retailers would we be if this fact wasn’t true?

So we admit to being a bit inspired by how rain comes to be, since the details from our Grade 7 Science class might have long since forgotten. We thought we’d look a little closer at the science of precipitation so hopefully we can recruit more people to the dark side of rain worship! (If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?) Ready for your science lesson?

Whether we realize it or not, water is around us at almost all times. Each region of the world has moisture in the air, and obviously, some places more than others (we’re looking at you, Vancouver). Water can exist as vapour, liquid and solid, and as it evaporates, it clings to dust particles in the air and there you have it; clouds. Those bubbles of moisture linger around until they can’t take it anymore and must find a release.

Once the clouds are too full of moisture particles, there’s nothing left to do but let it fall. If the temperature is cold enough, precipitation releases as snow or hail, and if it’s on the warmer side, then down comes the rain.

Where is all gets quite complicated from here (wind, high and low pressure systems…we leave this up to meteorologists), we also know that once the moisture is destined for the ground, it’s time to pop up and umbrella and get outdoors to appreciate the cycle of the world and our tiny place in it!

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Why Is Rain Soothing?

If you have any kind of anxiety, are a light sleeper, or simply enjoy meditation, you might have heard about sound machines or how some people choose to open their windows to the sound whenever Mother Nature makes her own sound machine. Used to block out other sound and provide rest and relaxation, sound machines and relaxation podcasts and apps are selling like hotcakes, and one of the sounds they often mimic is that of rain or water. Who hasn’t listened to the magical sound of a brook, or the dripping of rain, and felt instantly soothed? Now at the Umbrella Shop, we love rain in any and all forms, but we realize we might be a minority. So we wondered…why is rain so relaxing?

Apparently, there’s a real reason that rain calms us. In an article for Live Science magazine, Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioural health at Pennsylvania State University, said, "These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people. It's like they're saying: 'Don't worry, don't worry, don't worry.'" So basically, we see the sound of rain as one of nature, and therefore, our minds are able to tune it out and accept that we can continue to rest. There is nothing to fear.

The study further revealed that rain has the acoustic ability to overshadow other more intrusive sounds that aren’t key to relaxing. So basically, rain is nature’s way of dealing with the loudness of life.

So there you have it! There is science behind why we at the Umbrella Shop love rain so much. So the next time it’s hitting the windowpanes, lean in, pay attention, and relax!

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HAPPY 150th Canada!

We want to take a moment to wish everyone a happy Canada Day! We're proud to make many of our umbrellas right here in Canada. Thank you for being a part of our business and if you need to stay dry this Canada Day, our Maple Leaf Umbrella is the perfect one for you!

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Travel With Umbrellas

While we tend to think that all rain falls on Vancouver, it’s a fact that rain happens all over the world—shocking, we know. And when getting ready for travel, the last thing we tend to think about is keeping dry. Instead we ponder the monuments we’ll see and restaurants we’ll dine at.

But unexpected weather can happen any time, anywhere, and there’s nothing like lack of preparedness to put a damper on dampness. So we encourage all packing lists to involve an umbrella, and we happen to have several that make your next trip a walk in the park…a DRY walk in the park. And while some hotels will have umbrellas on hand for guest use, they can be in states of disrepair, lent out to other guests, or, well, ugly. And we can’t have that!

House Brand Two Fold
There’s a reason the House Brand Two Fold is such a big seller. It will fit in almost all carry-ons and medium-sized luggage, and comes with it’s own carrying sleeve to keep drips in check once exposed to rain. This model is also exceptionally strong, one of the strongest folding umbrellas on the market, and it comes in a wide variety of patterns and colours to suit any wardrobe. Best of all, it packs up nice and small to tuck into your day bag while exploring your new locale. It also stands up super well to heavy rains, and will keep you nice and dry no matter the length of your sightseeing excursion.

Skinny Mini
Sometimes, you need a tiny umbrella that will stash in the smallest of purses and doesn’t weigh down your bag (so you have room for more outfit choices!). Enter the Skinny Mini, which, at just 138 grams, is the lightest umbrella we make. They come in solid colours and patterns, with a small handle that will fit perfectly in your hand, making it perfect for unexpected showers.

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Umbrella Safety

We’ve all heard the saying, usually from our parents, that it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. While it’s usually said with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, the reality is that many have used the umbrella as a weapon, and even without intention, we’ve been susceptible to a few pokes and scrapes along the way. So the Umbrella Shop decided to look at all things safety related when it comes to the brolly, so you can be dry and keep your eye.

Keep a lookout
It might seem like it goes without saying, but nothing wrecks a rainy outing quite like operating an umbrella without looking where in the hell you’re going. So keep your eyes peeled, especially while on crowded sidewalks.

Watch for wind
This tip applies to both patio umbrellas and personal umbrellas, since a good gust of wind can have you feeling like Mary Poppins. Patio umbrellas are particularly at risk, since they have a larger canopy. So lean into wind to keep your brolly from taking flight, and if it’s windy conditions on the patio, keep the umbrella down for safety.

Watch kids
Kids love to play with umbrellas, and hey, we get it! But at the same time, automatic frames can pinch fingers and poke eyes, so always monitor children while they play. Our kids umbrellas have safety tips at the end of each point and also offer a pinch free open and close system!

Hold on to the handle, not the rod
This tip will give you more control over your umbrella, ensuring that if a gust of breeze does take it vertical, you’re prepared to control it much better or keep it from flying out of yours hands.

Exert control
Most umbrella injuries happen because people are unaware of the unwieldy nature of the brolly when they open it. Give the umbrella a wide berth and don’t point it at anyone while opening, especially with an automatic mechanism.

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UV Umbrellas

With summer on our heels, here at the Umbrella Shop, we start looking for the sunny skies. And while you might think your umbrella is only good for the rain, it was originally designed to protect royalty from the sun in Egypt, so summer brings about its original purpose—filtering the harsh sun from your susceptible skin. So we thought we’d highlight our range of UV filtering umbrellas to keep you safe in the sun.

Thankfully, we carry a whole array of umbrellas dedicated to this purpose. It’s important to note that all materials will allow some rays in, and it’s important to always wear sunscreen too. But an umbrella or parasol can be your first defense against skin damage.

Parasols
If you like a bit more flair in your sun protection, look no further than our parasols, made with UV filtering material that will look as fancy and vintage as it does serve a worthwhile purpose. Their iridescent material will call to those who like a Victorian edge to their fashion choice.

Glimmer Stick
Our Glimmer Stick umbrellas are nice and large, made on a similar frame to our domestic line. The iridescent materials look great in rain or sun, and best of all, their UV protection means hours in the sun without fear.

Classic Sticks
You might not know this, but our Classic Stick line is also made with UV protecting material. The range of colours and patterns will mean there is one for even the tamest of fashion adventurers.

Folding
We also have several folding umbrellas that filter UV rays. Products here tend to change regularly, so feel free to email contact@theumbrellashop.com to see what is on offer this week!

 

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Keeping Umbrellas Tidy

Whenever we have a new customer at the Umbrella Shop, we tell them the importance of letting their umbrella dry once it has been exposed to rain. For some, this comes as a big surprise, because they can’t imagine opening their umbrella up in their home to allow it to dry, since all that bad luck! But trust us…if bad luck came to those who opened an umbrella indoors, all of us at the shop would be drowning in misery.

That said, we know that drying your umbrella, and dealing with it once it has been exposed to rain, can be a challenge full of mess, drips, and frustration. So we thought we’d explore some tips and options for drying your umbrella so that the fabric will stay in great shape and protect you from downpours long into the future.

For those days of shopping…
Sometimes you find yourself in and out of shops, only to find yourself carrying a dripping umbrella all over the place. It can feel ironic to use something to keep yourself dry, only to have it drip wet all over you, and leaving your special Umbrella Shop umbrella in the provided (and steal-worthy) stand at the door makes you wonder if you’ll ever see your umbrella again! Our House Brand Two Fold comes with a carrying bags and can be slipped over a furled umbrella to keep drips in check until you’re home to let it dry. Some malls and stores also offer plastic bags that can be smoothed over the umbrella temporarily.

For once you’re home…
Once home, snap open your umbrella and allow it to air-dry completely. Some people do this with their umbrella upside down, but be careful of this, as water pooling in the canopy can rust metal frames. We suggest laying down a towel to collect water if you don’t want it to drip on your floors.
It can be tempting to place your umbrella near a heat source to help speed the drying process, but this can damage both the fabric and your frame, depending on the materials, so we highly advise against this.

Invest in a stand…
We’ve seen many different stands on the market, but one of our favourites is the Design Boom stand, which collects water while simultaneously takes up little in the way of home real estate while it dries. Once the umbrella is ready to go, you just have to dump the water out from these cute and stylish containers, with no mess on your floor!

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Father's Day Umbrella Gift Guide

If you’re like us, a lot of your shopping happens on the fly, even for events like Father’s Day, when we celebrate the father figures in our lives. Our dads, or whoever fills the father role in our lives, work hard to protect us from the trials of life, so why not give the gift that protects your dad from rain and incidentally, bad hair days? Allow us to be of assistance by scouring our shop for the perfect umbrella for dad and his next rainy day.

The Freeflex
For the classic kind of pop, we suggest the FreeFlex, which comes in simple colours with a truly classic design. The nice, wide canopy will keep any many dry, and the simple colours make it easy to blend in with sophisticated style. We also love the stick model and coordinating and mega comfy handle. Trust us…it’s an umbrella he’ll actually use.

The House Brand Two Fold
We recommend this model all the time and for good reason. It packs up nice and small to fit in briefcases or backpacks, but it also offers a nice sized canopy and comes in a huge array of designs and colours so that any dad can find one to suit.

The Town
This classic umbrella is perfect for dad. The classic stick design with swooping curved wooden handle means that it will stand out with sophistication, while the selection of colours means he’ll be spoiled for choice. He’ll stand out from the crowd and be dry under this nice, wide canopy.

When in doubt, consider bringing dad into the shop on Father’s Day and let him pick out his own umbrella! It can be lots of fun to test all the models and figure out which one suits his needs best. But above all, celebrate Dad for all that makes him special!

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Umbrellas in the Wind

If you’ve owned an umbrella at any point in your life, then you’ve probably had the experience of meeting a strong head wind and having your umbrella flip inside out. There’s nothing more infuriating, and it has the effect of making you feel like someone in a cartoon, wrestling with the wind and the frame. Sometimes, if wind has flared up, there’s an appeal to going without the protection of an umbrella, but the Umbrella Shop is here to help you cope with the wind while keeping your umbrella in good working order.

1. Umbrella Choice
Some umbrellas stand up better to wind than others—that’s a fact. Since umbrellas are all made for a variety of different reasons, there isn’t one that can suit all weather conditions at all times, or all needs at all times. If you like a stick umbrella but want it to fit into your purse, we can’t help you. But if you choose a model that is designed to withstand heavy winds, like our Windgrinder (with a dual layer system that allows wind to pass through safely) or Free Flex, then you’re setting yourself up with a durable umbrella designed to take what Mother Nature throws at it.

2.  Ribs
When it comes to wind, flexibility is vital. Think of a tree in a hurricane…if it doesn’t bend with the breeze, it will snap. The same goes for umbrella ribs. Metal doesn’t flex in any way, so if it does flip inside out, it’s more likely to break permanently. Fibreglass, on the other hand, it designed to flex with the wind and if it does flip inside out, you can flip it right back without worry.

3. Lean in
While it might make it a bit harder to see, that pointing tip at the top of your umbrella should be directed into the wind while you walk. That will keep air from swooping down underneath and flipping it inside out…or right out of your hands.

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Get Out of the Rain, Vancouver!

Let’s face it…in Vancouver, rain is a part of life a good 75% of the year, which is why the Umbrella Shop is in the perfect location! Some of us retreat once the moisture fills the air, and some of us want to get out and dirt bike, hike and explore. We thought we’d look at some of the great things to do in our area on a rainy day—just don’t forget the umbrellas!

Get inspired
Some of the most beautiful works of art have been created while observing nature, and that means rain too. Canada’s Group of Seven can attest to that! Grab a canvas and head to one of the city’s paint nights, which collects a bunch of art lovers and sets them to work painting a particular scene while connecting with one another in a pub or restaurant.
www.paintnite.com/events/vancouver

See history
Vancouver has a fantastic array of museums and galleries that speak to our rich cultural history and also highlight our past and future as interpreted by artists and historians. Some of our faves include the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Museum of Vancouver.
www.museumofvancouver.ca
http://moa.ubc.ca
http://www.vanartgallery.bc.ca

Get outside
You won’t melt or fall apart if you step into the rain! Take the opportunity to explore some of our many trails and hikes that will likely be quieter considering the weather. But always be safe in the rain, as trails will be extra slippery.

Eat, eat, eat some more
Vancouver is known for a selection of incredible restaurants at all different price points, so why not check out some you’ve never tried before? Maybe set a challenge of trying three poutines and picking a favourite, or check out three food trucks and make a rating system with friends. Regardless, you’ll be dry and fed and surrounded by friends or friends to be!

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Choosing Umbrella Fabric

In our years of umbrella blogging, we’ve been shocked at the number of topics we’ve been able to cover. We’ve looked at umbrellas as props, gifts, and practical tools. We’ve explored umbrella history and the science behind rain. And of course we’ve looked at all the elements of umbrellas, except their fabrics!

Fabric choice is important in an umbrella, since each is designed for a different purpose and can be better suited to certain kinds of climates. Here on the wet coast—ahem, we mean, west coast—there is ample opportunity to bust out a brolly, but there are sunny days and patio days and windy days and a million other factors that make your umbrella material something worth inspecting.
Here at the Umbrella Shop, we have a wide variety of materials to choose from so you can find the one that suits you best.

Cotton
We have plenty of people who question cotton as an umbrella choice. Surely it isn’t water repellent, right? And won’t it get dirty? Not with the right care, it won’t! We make several Domestic Print sticks in special cotton material, which repels water and keeps you dry while also harkening back to a bygone era of classic style. The nice weight gives substance to your umbrella and with great care and spot cleaning, will last a long time. But these umbrellas definitely require total drying before folding up to store.

Polyester
With excellent water repellency and being so easy to keep clean, polyester is one of the most popular choices for umbrellas. It’s nice and lightweight too, meaning you won’t have to truck around a heavy, sodden piece once it withstands some weather. This fabric tends to be on the shinier side, so some might not appreciate that if they prefer something more neutral.

UV Filtering
You guessed it…our UV filtering material, well, filters UV rays! While it goes without saying, many are under the assumption that popping up a regular umbrella will do the job of protecting you from the sun, but if you’ve ever gone out in a t-shirt and still found your skin burnt once home, then it will come as no surprise that run of the mill umbrella fabric isn’t always up to the sun-protecting task. If you intend to use your umbrella for sunny days, make sure you choose one designed to protect from the sun.

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Spring Rain Survival Guide

Image Courtesty of Giving Gifts.ca

It’s no secret that it’s been a wet spring so far. Vancouver has officially seen one of the gloomiest months of March since record keeping, and we’re feeling the weight of that, even here at the Umbrella Shop, where rain is worshipped and appreciated (it’s our business and our passion!). So how do we still live life, get outdoors, and prevent slipping into sadness when rain keeps pelleting the windows? To help battle rain blues and arm you with the best defence, we made a little Spring Rain Survival Guide to help you get through April Showers.

1. Remember it will bring May flowers
There’s a reason it’s a saying! Falling rain now makes for extra healthy plants for summer, when as you know, we tend to slip into the opposite weather issue of dryness. So try to embrace the rain, think of all our natural water resources replenishing, and look at the glass half full. Besides…there’s nothing you can do to stop it, so might as well embrace it.

2. Play in it
Remember when you were a kid and the solution to a rainy day was to pop on some gumboots and get to splashing? You can still do it, even without the rain boots. You won’t melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, so the next time we have a downpour, wear your least water-repellent clothing and get to splashing. Better yet, invite some friends to take part in the fun.

3. Host a movie night
There’s nothing better than a cozy day in while the rain pitter-patters at the window and you’re tucked warm and snuggly inside. Take this as an opportunity to stay indoors with a glass of wine or cup of tea and binge-watch that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Most important, this laziness must be guilt free.

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Umbrellas for Mother's Day!

Mother’s Day is upon us, and we all fret about the perfect gift to give to Mom or the mother figure in your life. Here at the Umbrella Shop, we love our moms and want them to know how much we care, and in true Umbrella Shop fashion, what better way to do that than with a brand, spanking new umbrella chosen just for her?

Sure, maybe an umbrella doesn’t seem like the first gift that comes to mind when we think of mom. Many of us turn to traditional flowers and chocolates, but what about something she can USE? What about something that will keep her dry and protect her from the sun? Now that you’re convinced, let us help you pick the perfect one.

Domestic Stick
Does mom deserve to be spoiled? Of course she does! We make all our domestic sticks here at our Broadway Street factory in Vancouver, so each one is made with special care and attention on our vintage sewing machines with unique-to-us fabrics. The elegant and classic design will be perfect for the classy woman in your life, but the array of patterns and colours means you’re sure to find one that suits your mom’s particular style.

Custom
All moms are unique and special, but sometimes, there’s only a custom job that will suit. Thankfully, the Umbrella Shop staff are always on hand to help if you want a custom piece that is made just for her. You can choose colour, design, handle, and so much more, so get in touch at contact@theumbrellashop.com with lots of time in advance to make your selection.

Folding
For the practical woman, sometimes a folding umbrella is the only one that will do. We always recommend our house brand two-fold, since it’s mega durable to wind and rain but also folds up in a handy size that fits into many purses. Like our domestic umbrellas, there are so many prints and options so you’re sure to find the right one.

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Umbrella and Rainy Day Hacks

We love umbrellas at the Umbrella Shop, in case you weren’t aware! Most of our employees own a horrifying number of them too, so we’d be lying if we pretended we aren’t always on the hunt for ways to make umbrella management a little bit easier.

Sometimes it can all feel like a bit much. The drips. The ribs. The fussy little band of fabric to snap the umbrella closed. We get it. So we thought we’d investigate umbrella and rain hacks to make dealing with the rain a little bit easier.

1. Keep towels on hand
There’s nothing worse than getting in from being soaked, even if you have an umbrella, and dripping all over the darn place. Having towels, or at the very least, some newspaper on hand can make life a whole lot easier.

2. Do the card wrap
Losing umbrellas is nothing short of annoying. Vancouver is known for having a sea of lost umbrellas scattered across the city. Don’t join those leagues by labeling your umbrella with your business card. Simple tape it around the handle. It might not keep someone from stealing it, but it’ll make it a whole lot less appealing to thieves.

3. Bag it
Some of our umbrellas come with their own personal carry bags so that you don’t have to worry about storing it wet (keep in mind, we recommend you dry your umbrella after every use to keep fabric in tip top shape). But for those who don’t, it’s always a good idea to have a nice, long plastic bag at the ready to store your umbrella until it can be dried properly.

4. Don’t just have one umbrella
We realize we’re saying this when it’s what we sell, so maybe you don’t want to take our word for it. But there’s a reason we at the shop tend to own more than one umbrella…you need different ones for different uses. Stick umbrellas are more durable but can be too difficult to store. So do yourself a favour and have a few options at the ready. Better yet, have one at work and in the car too. You never know.

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How Rain is Made

Here at the Umbrella Shop we spend so much time protecting ourselves from rain that we don’t really think about how it comes to be. We take rain for granted, but it nourishes the earth, grows our plants and replenishes our drinking water supplies. Like it or not, we seriously need rain.

Living in the Lower Mainland, we like to think we’re rain experts. It’s everywhere here, pelting the city all winter long and well into the spring too. Sometimes it feels like we never get a break.

But rain is a pretty spectacular beast, when you read about it. When moisture occurs in the air and upwards airstreams push the precipitation higher, poof, rain happens when gravity can’t hold it in the clouds any longer. Because we live in a mountainous area, we see a particularly large amount of rain when the fronts collide with air streams coming over and above the mountains. Conversely, the Okanagan is so darn desert-ish for the exact same reason. Mountains.

The more we got to thinking about rain, the more we wanted to scrounge up some interesting facts. Here are a few to get your brain going the next time you pull out your umbrella.

-You’d think the desert is the driest place on earth but nope! It’s Antarctica, with just 6 inches of snow or rain a year.

-The rainiest place on earth is Columbia. (We know. You thought it was Vancouver.)

-You can tell it will rain if you see cumulonimbus cloud (big, puffy and flat on top).

-Rain can fall up to 22 miles per hour. Ouch!

-On Venus it rains sulfuric acid. Suddenly a little water isn’t feeling so bad, eh?

-In Kauai, Hawaii, there is a mountain where it rains more than 350 days a year. Seriously.

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Umbrella Crafts

A while back we came up with some unique things you could do with old umbrellas, and after doing a little digging, we realized this wasn’t a topic we could let go of so easily. Umbrellas have so many different elements to them—ribs, handle, canopy, frame—that there are a ton of options for repurposing and reusing them beyond their standard purpose.

So we thought we’d look at some of the coolest things to do with your old umbrellas.

Make a Bag
All that fabric can be put to work with relative ease. If the fabric is still in good condition, separate it from the frame and add either a drawstring or a zipper to make a handy shopping bag for…perhaps a new umbrella! There are lots of patterns online and it’s a simple craft that kids can do too.

Magazine Rack
We kid you not. What’s a magazine rack if not metal frame and fabric to hold! There are several neat patterns after a simple Google search, but the idea remains. This craft uses two parts of the old umbrella, the frame and the canopy, to create a happy sling for your latest reads.

Make a Kite
Of course! You have all the workings already for a perfect kite…weatherproof material and a sturdy frame. A few simple tools and help from an adult will give umbrellas new life, flying in the air. Best of all, umbrella canopy material stands up well to wind, so it’s perfect as a kite.

Bird Feeder
Nothing complicated here! Simple turn an umbrella upside down and hang it on a tree or pole. Fill partly with birdseed and bust out the binoculars to watch them flock! Best of all is whenever it’s dirty you can simply take a hose to the material and set it up all over again. This is also a great idea for smaller, children’s umbrellas.

Hook it up
Don’t forget the handle! Remove cool umbrella handles from old umbrellas and screw them into a piece of spare wood to make a hook for robes, coats and bags.

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It's NATIONAL UMBRELLA MONTH!!!

We celebrate all holidays at the Umbrella Shop, and we love it when our customers do too. But March brings round a whole new way to celebrate, because it’s NATIONAL UMBRELLA MONTH! That’s right, you heard it here. National Umbrella Month is of course worthy of huge celebration around here. So we thought we’d share a few unique ways to celebrate alongside us.

And hey, when in doubt, you can always come by and shop for a new umbrella, right? And to SWEETEN THE DEAL, we're offering all our blog readers a 15% discount for the month of March! You only have to call in your order. Call 1-877-427-6559 from Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm Pacific time.

1. Paint or Draw

Get the kids involved and paint, draw and colour your favourite umbrella designs. Pinterest is a great source for countless colour-in options or make your own!

2. Splash in the rain. Because, why the heck not. Get dolled up in boots, raincoat and umbrella, or just brave it in warm weather!

3. Watch Mary Poppins or go to the play. You have to love a movie where the umbrella takes centre stage, right?

4. Make your own cocktail umbrellas (get the kids involved) using cupcake liners and toothpicks and then spend the afternoon mixing up fun virgin drinks, or use the umbrellas for tiny dolls.

5. Donate your old umbrellas to those in need. It will make you feel good while keeping others sheltered.

6. Buy a new umbrella. Duh. (Come see us. We can help.)

7. Give umbrellas away as a gift. We make promotional ones that you can custom design for you and your posse.

8. Host an umbrella themed costume party. Check out our post from Halloween and get cracking with Mary Poppins, Jellyfish and raining cats and dogs costumes.

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How to Buy a Quality Umbrella

Courtesy of Giving Gifts Canada and Jocelyne Halle Photography.

Courtesy of Giving Gifts Canada and Jocelyne Halle Photography.

Shopping for good, quality products has never been harder, and this issue applies to umbrellas too. With the invention of online shopping, more and more customers turn to the descriptions on a website to help them make a selection. However, without the ability to touch, see and test, we never really know what we’re buying. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised and on other turns, horrified by imitations, poor construction or shabby materials.

At the Umbrella Shop, many of our umbrellas are made right in Vancouver above our factory on Broadway, so we know what quality is. Our other umbrellas are made overseas but Corry, the owner, regularly travels there to inspect the facilities and the quality of their work to ensure our umbrellas are done right, every time.

It can be hard to know what to look for if you aren’t an umbrella expert, so we thought we’d round up some tips on what marks quality in the umbrella shopping world.

1. Shop from a reputable source
If you’re buying from large online retailers who don’t note their product sources, you can get counterfeit and poorly made work. If you buy from a place you trust and has great reviews online, (like us!) you are more likely to find quality umbrellas. 

2. Check the ribs
Ribs are usually metal or fiberglass. We make both varieties, but it’s important to pay attention to this area, since this is where the strength of the canopy is. Is the fabric well sewn around the ribs? Are they free of bends? How many are there? All of these things impact the umbrella and its durability, strength and weight.

3. Fabric
Most of us can tell quality fabric when we actually feel it. We use a variety of materials but ensure there is relative strength and thickness. If buying a parasol or patio umbrella, look for UV filtering materials to protect from the sun.

4. Handle
Sturdy is the key. While you can’t tell comfort through a screen, you can look for naturally ergonomically styled handles that will suit a wide range of customers. Seniors and persons with disabilities should look for easy to grip, wide handles, while there are also curved options and different materials. Consider you’ll be holding it up for a while, the design matters!

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