Smack in the middle of downtown, bustling Robson Street is the natural choice for visitors who want to shop in Vancouver. Yet, due to the area’s high real-estate value, it’s chock-a-block full of the same chain stores you can frequent back home. Here’s a better idea: head to one of the city’s distinct neighbourhoods. To determine which is right for you, we’ve matched five types of shoppers to the ’hood most likely to challenge their suitcase zippers at the end of the trip. You’ll thank us when you unpack.
Kitsilano, for the healthy-living devotee
Yogis worship at the altar of the original lululemon , but there’s plenty here for others who enjoy active lifestyles. Before you hit the slopes, hit West Fourth Avenue’s action-sports shops such as Comor Sports and Pacific Boarder for gear. Further west near Jericho Beach, Banyen Books & Sound is the place for spiritual resources.
Richmond, for the foodie
Vancouver’s Granville Island Public Market is the obvious destination for food lovers, but a 25-minute ride on the Canada Line from downtown opens up greater culinary exploration. Get off at Aberdeen station and browse Aberdeen Centre for Taiwanese dried fruits, Korean staples like gochujang pepper paste and Japanese ceramic tableware. Don’t miss Daiso, which sells all manner of inexpensive Asian kitchenware.
Gastown, for the style maven
Whether you swoon over fashion and accessories or home decor, you’ll find cutting-edge design in this rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood. For clothing, check out Dutil denim, which stocks small, premium international brands. Tickle your soles at John Fluevog’s flagship store and peruse sophisticated houseware, apothecary goods and more at Litchfield. Parliament Interiors sells everything modern from throw pillows to owl-shaped silver plates.
South Granville, for the culture vulture
South of downtown over the Granville Street Bridge, this stylish area consists of about 10 blocks packed with art galleries, antique shops and posh boutiques. Browse the Ian Tan Gallery for work from B.C. artists ranging from abstract art to photo realism, or the Douglas Reynolds Gallery, which specializes in northwest coast Native art.
Main Street, for the hipster
Antique stores take on an ironic feel in this neighbourhood, where plaid shirts, facial hair and bicycles dominate. Independent shops abound, including clothing stores like Twigg & Hottie, which carries ethical clothing and shoe brands. Stop in for some vinyl nostalgia at Red Cat Records or the latest street toy from the Antisocial Skateboard shop.