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GOING BEYOND THE MEGAMALL

Author: Debbie Olsen

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It’s a sunny spring afternoon and people are milling about on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton’s Old Strathcona district – a place with two faces. In the evening, the nightclubs and theatre venues in the heritage buildings buzz with activity, but there’s a different crowd when the sun comes up. During daylight hours, this neighbourhood is one of the top boutique shopping districts in Canada. 

In a city with the largest shopping mall in North America, you might expect the retail options outside the megamall to be few and far between, but Alberta’s capital city has fabulous boutique shopping districts, glittering shopping centres and upscale malls with unique shops that keep up with and ahead of the trends. Whether you just want a little casual retail therapy or you’re a gold medallist in the Olympic sport of shopping, you’ll find what you need in Edmonton’s funky and fun shopping districts.

Old Strathcona

Some people like to wear the big brand names, but if you’re more into up-and-coming local designers, cool vintage wear and fun accessories; you’ll love the shops in the Old Strathcona district – especially those along Whyte Avenue. Old Strathcona is a registered provincial historic area filled with an eclectic assortment of shops, restaurants and pubs inside the old brick buildings. Strolling along the avenue, you’ll find products you can’t find anywhere else. Check out Gravitypope for fashion-forward footwear, Bamboo Ballroom for locally designed and made Suka Clothing, Blackbyrd Myoozik for vinyl records and Vivid Print for local fine art prints – and that’s just the beginning. Consider fuelling up in the tea room at Cally’s Teas where you’ll find more than 250 varieties along with sweet and savoury baked goods. Local produce, baked goods and crafts can be found at the year-round Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market.   

124 Street

This downtown neighbourhood is home to a large number of art galleries that feature seasonal exhibits focused on the work of Canadian artists. In and around the galleries, you’ll find artisan shops, indie coffee houses, antique stores and fashion boutiques. Look for edgy, distinctive women’s fashions at Shades of Grey Boutique, shop for quality fashions and accessories for men, women and kids at Red Ribbon and then take a break at Duchess Bakeshop, the city’s top spot for desserts, according to Edmonton’s trendy Avenue Magazine.  

4th Street Promenade

Edmonton’s historic warehouse district has been converted into a sophisticated shopping and dining area. Look for trendy men’s fashions at The Helm and find a great selection of fashions by local designers for both men and women at Workhall. If you’re looking for a new pair of jeans, visit High Grade Denim Gallery and when you want to get your buzz on, consider a break at one of the many downtown coffee shops. There are so many coffee shops in and around 104th street that one reviewer dubbed it the coffee district.  

City Centre Mall

If you’re in town for business, the arts or one of the great festivals anchored in Churchill Square, you’ll want to pop into City Centre Mall, the go-to shopping destination in Edmonton’s urban core. Discover a broad range of goods at the mall’s flagship Hudson’s Bay store, a Canadian department store similar to Myers’ or David Jones’ in Australia, bargains on designer fashions, you’ll enjoy the mall’s huge Winners store, an off-price Canadian department store similar to Target in Australia. Fashion forward men’s and women’s fashions can be found at Le Château, a fashion chain founded in Montreal, Quebec. Take a movie break and choose from 9 different movies at Landmark Cinemas.

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