Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cheryl Shops...Vancouver
After two years in a row of vacationing in Europe, MW and I decided to cash in my frequent flier miles and head to the Pacific Northwest, a region of the country to which I'd never been. Our first stop was Vancouver, B.C., where I wasn't expecting to do a lot of shopping, but managed to find a few great stores nonetheless.

Vancouver was all abuzz over the opening of its first Sephora store, which is located in the Pacific Centre, the ritziest of the city's several malls. Inside the mall are your typical stores--Bebe, Gap, H&M--as well as the excellent Canadian shoe store Browns, which was having a great sale on everything from their in-house line to Manolo Blahnik and D&G shoes. You can also find the famed Canadian department store Holt Renfrew in the Pacific Centre; I was really excited because I got to see all of the blogger windows (I think Sea of Shoes, at right, had the best one). Nearby is The Bay, Canada's answer to Macy's, and if you walk south on Granville Street, there are a bunch of shops, from Canadian stalwart Aldo to Vancouver's own John Fluevog, and the further south you go, the edgier it gets--MW and I particularly liked the Rock Shop, where he got a Wilco T-shirt and I got a badass studded cuff bracelet. In the same general area, Robson is the main shopping street, from Granville up to Jervis or so, and the shop filter over to the surrounding cross-streets, like Thurlow and Burrard. Robson has a lot of chain stores--Club Monaco, Zara, and, yes, Aldo--but there are some independent boutiques sprinkled throughout, and one of my favorites was Plenty, which has a great mix of casual, contemporary designers like Current Elliott and Fluxus. I also really liked Blubird, a block over on Alberni Street, which favors brightly colored, feminine dresses by Blugirl and Single, mixed in with Mike & Chris leather jackets, J Brand jeans, and CC Skye jewelry (there's also a free computer, upon which your boyfriend can surf the Internet while you shop). A few doors down is M0851, the Montreal-based leather shop, which makes beautifully buttery bags and jackets. If you're in the area and need a break, I suggest stopping by the Cupcakes shop (yes, the cupcake craze has spread to Vancouver), where you can sample several flavors in mini sizes.

Another highly touted shopping area is Yaletown, which bills itself as the Soho of Vancouver--it was once a run-down former warehouse district--but actually reminded me of the Bucktown neighborhood in Chicago, as I found it a bit yuppie-fied. There are a lot of bars and restaurants in the area, as well as hair and nail salons. I wasn't particularly taken with any of the clothing boutiques, but I loved the home store Designhouse, the self-explanatory Book Warehouse, and the always wonderful (if a bit pricey) Marimekko store.

My absolute favorite store (or stores, actually) were in the Gastown neighborhood, a pretty touristy area whose shops are a baffling mix of souvenirs and high-end furniture. The first, One of a Few, has a highly edited selection of cool, coveted labels like Manoush and Slow and Steady Wins the Race, and also carries menswear. Its sister, next-door boutique, Two of a Few, carries a slightly dressier selection. The stores reminded me of something you'd see in Brooklyn, and alhough both were having a pretty good sale (50% off) when I was there, I sadly couldn't find anything I absolutely had to have. At the time, at least--I find myself still thinking about a faux-vintage Francoise Hardy tank top and kicking myself for not buying it. Well, maybe next time...

However, the pinnacle of my Vancouver shopping experience was a visit to the Lululemon Athletica outlet store. It is a bit of a haul--from downtown, it requires a trip on the SkyTrain, followed by a walk through some dodgy industrial blocks, but it is well worth it. MW and I spent $325 (Canadian) in a matter of minutes, and I easily could've spent more, but I was quite happy with my three pairs of pants and two tops (MW got two workout tees and is already a happy convert to the brand). Everything is well organized by size, there are ample fitting rooms, and as with any Lululemon store, they will hem your pants for you (I'm taking mine to the Soho location). Be advised, however, that the outlet location is moving to the far more remote Burnaby neighborhood in late August; still, I think it would be worth the trip, especially if you are a Lululemon devotee and/or balk at the retail price of their clothes.

So, those are my tips for Vancouver. I'm sure I missed a lot--I was only there for three days--but the good news is that I also spent three days each in Seattle and Portland. My shopping reports on those cities are coming later this week!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Did they also have a Quark Shoes in the mall?