Here’s our guide to our favourite shopping experiences in Vancouver.
While Canada’s famous for incredible snow, varied terrain and mountains that’ll make your jaw drop to the ground, no one ever talks about the shopping. Shopaholics and secret-shopaholics-at-heart will both love a shop-over in Vancouver – stopping in the city on your way to a ski resort to explore, adventure and stock up on both souvenirs and things you’ll need for your time on the mountain. The best part? The exchange rate is generally pretty good, meaning you’ll have more cash to spend on the things you’d like to take home.
Stock up on snow gear
It's no secret that Canadian ski resorts tend to be colder than their Australian and New Zealand counterparts. As a result, you’ll find great gear in Vancouver that’s warmer and more waterproof than what you might find in the Southern Hemisphere.
A Canadian favourite is MEC, a retail co-op and outdoor superstore that costs just $5 to join (the member fee, incidentally, hasn’t changed since 1971). Their goal is to sell the best products at the best possible prices; alongside their own brand, you’ll also find plenty of other brands here, including Volkl, Burton, Atomic, K2, The North Face, Smith and Rossignol, at their store on W Broadway.
Comor Sports is big for both skiers and snowboarders alike, with a huge range of hardware that covers everything from groomers to powder and touring. If you happen to be around here in the summer, you’re in luck, because you’ll likely pick up a bargain on a last-season pair of skis or a snowboard. Find it near Granville Island in Vancouver.
Snowboarders won’t want to go past The Boardroom in downtown Vancouver. It’s a premier store stocking everything from Dinosaurs Will Die to Lib Tech, Never Summer, CAPiTA, GNU and more – everything the pro riders are wearing, riding and considering can be found here, along with splitboards and the usual outwear and accessories.
Lululemon fans, listen up. Lulu was born in Vancouver, making the most of a city that’s super active and incredibly invested in its health. As a result, you’ll likely be able to pick up your favourite tights, sports bras and hoodies at a better price than what you’d find back in Australia. Their flagship store is located on Robson St in downtown Vancouver.
Feel like stocking up on accessories? Find Hershel Supply Co. in the wonderful area of Gastown, famous for great places to eat and even better places to shop. Hershel is based in Vancouver and well-known for their backpacks, duffles and totes, along with other fun travel items that’ll make your holiday packing that little bit easier.
And finally, Canadian Arc’teryx was built for those Vancouverites who love to scale mountains and look good while doing it. Find them on Burrard St near the Fairmont for the best outdoor gear, including layers that’ll serve you well on the Northern Hemisphere slopes.
Unique to Canada
Want to be as Canadian as possible while you’re in Canada? Shop at the Canadian favourites, and buy what the Canadians buy.
Start at Hudson’s Bay Company for high-end, Canadian-style items like blankets, homewares, beanies and mittens; then head to Roots for warm and rustic women’s, men’s and children’s wear, with everything from hoodies to sweatpants and leatherwear. When it’s time for a snack, stop by Vancouver favourite Cartems Donuts for delicious donuts that are made from scratch every day, with Canadian inspired flavours such as Smoked Maple Walnut and Whiskey Bacon, along with international inspired flavours such as London Fog and Earl Grey, and classics like Apple Fritter and Chocolate Glaze.
When it comes to Canadian souvenirs, keep an eye out for handcrafted designs created by First Nations artists, beautifully authentic maple syrup, ice wine (the perfect dessert wint), hockey jerseys and Canadian animal stuffies (particularly moose, bears and squirrels).
Hipster favourites & vintage finds
Don’t go past Mount Pleasant to get your fix of unique items that you won’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s a neighbourhood full of unique boutiques that offers up everything from clothing and homewares to jewellery and accessories, all created by local designers and artists.
Feel like investing in some big-ticket items? Vancouver is the place to do it – as a tourist hub, you’ll be able to find some covet-worthy designer items here. Head to Alberni St in Vancouver, which is essentially Canada’s version of Rodeo Drive. You’ll find some of the world’s most luxe brands here, including Versace, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co. and plenty more.
Culture & foodies
For a shopping experience that truly embraces the Canadian culture and the unique nature of Vancouver as a city, visit Granville Island. It’s a district that’s entirely dedicated to shopping, art and food, and was transformed in the 70s from an industrial wasteland to a spot that’s beautiful to wander and explore. Start at the Public Market, which is open daily, then head over to the Net Loft Shops and Railspur District to find some of the country’s favourite designers.