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Updated: November 18, 2020
All the usual name-brand stores are easily found in downtown Vancouver, especially on Robson Street or inside the mostly subterranean Pacific Centre Mall. Discount shopping fans can also hop on a Canada Line train to Templeton Station and the nearby McArthurGlen Designer Outlet. But it’s not just about well-known brands. Vancouver is also studded with unique independent stores that are well-worth hunting down. Here are 15 of our favorites.
The 15 Best Places to Shop in Vancouver
1. MAKE Vancouver
Granville Island is a bulging shopping bag of enticing indie and artisan stores selling everything from locally-brewed sake to handcrafted Harry Potter-style brooms. But save plenty of time for an extended browse around this spacious and colorfully quirky store, selling moose-themed T-shirts, raincloud-patterned socks, bird-shaped earrings, and much more.
2. Mintage Mall
From Duchesse Vintage to the Eastside Flea, it’s not hard to uncover amazing second-hand clothing finds in Vancouver. But arguably the best one-stop-shop is tucked into a second-level location just off the Main and Broadway intersection. Browse a dozen or so vendor alcoves here, many with brilliantly curated yesteryear outfit ideas.
3. Much + Little
Arbiter of Main Street cool for almost a decade, this friendly clothing, accessories, and housewares store has a laser-sharp focus on attractive and innovative design, sourcing great products from local, national, and international designers and artisans. Browse their website collections prior to arrival.
4. Neptoon Records
Along with Red Cat Records a few blocks away, Neptoon is a haven for those who love languidly flicking through teeming racks of vintage and just-released CDs and vinyl. Reportedly the city’s oldest record store, it’s the ideal place to discover some of Vancouver’s celebrated old-school punk bands.
5. Iron Dog Books
Starting life as a mobile bookstore that traveled around local festivals and farmers’ markets, Iron Dog opened a Vancouver storefront in 2019, bringing their signature friendliness, well-chosen array of new and used titles, and commitment to reasonable prices to a much wider audience. Need more? Add visits to Pulpfiction Books, MacLeod’s Books and The Paper Hound Bookshop.
6. The Block
Radiating along and around Water Street, Gastown’s preserved heritage storefronts house some of the city’s best boutiques––including this sparkling men’s and women’s clothing store that’s lined with the stylish creations of designers from Canada and around the world. A Vancouver favorite, accessories and shoes add to the appeal here.
7. Hills of Kerrisdale
Heart of the charming, old-school Kerrisdale Village shopping area. It feels like a store-lined high street in a small English town. Hills has been clothing local men and women in up-to-the-minute styles for more than a century. Well-chosen brands cover the high-ceilinged interior and the staff is ever-ready to offer expert advice.
8. MEC Vancouver
Moving in mid-2020 to a dramatic new flagship store near Olympic Village, the city’s favorite outdoor gear store is filled to its wood-beamed rafters with famous-brand and MEC-labeled clothing for hiking, camping, and more. There’s also footwear, bikes, packs, kayaks, and those all-important rainproof jackets.
9. Thomas Haas Chocolates
Kitsilano’s 4th Avenue and Broadway thoroughfares are each lined with browse-worthy shops––and there are plenty of restaurants and coffee stops en route as well. Beeline to Broadway for this celebrated chocolate treat purveyor, complete with gourmet bars, decadent truffles, and some silky chocolate ganache bonbons (passion fruit recommended).
10. Dandelion Records & Emporium
A small, easy-to-miss Main Street store combining well-chosen vinyl records with a whip-smart collection of gifts, homewares, and accessories. Expect local-made jewelry, small-batch chocolate bars or quirky board games––plus everything in between. Record wise, specialties here include punk, prog rock, and new wave.
11. Wickaninnish Gallery
There are several places to buy high-end Pacific Northwest First Nations art in Vancouver but this welcoming Granville Island Net Loft boutique is perfect for authentic, accessibly-priced gifts and souvenirs. From art prints to dream catchers and from silver jewelry to patterned water bottles, this Indigenous-owned store is a must-do for gift-shoppers.
Vancouver’s first cat café has found permanent adoption homes for more than 900 felines since 2015. But local and visiting cat people don’t just flock here to hang with the whiskery wonders in its popular lounge. There’s also a tail-twitching array of moggy merchandise to check out, including cat-themed earrings, T-shirts, and scarves––plus tiny bow ties for feline dandies.
13. Old Faithful Shop
Where hip Vancouverites flock to burnish their cool credentials, the exposed brick interior of this Gastown store frames an expertly curated array of ultra-stylish housewares and accessories. From art books to Italian coffee carafes and from French soap to Japanese socks, it’s the perfect place to explore top-notch design from around the world.
14. Circle Craft
A spacious Granville Island gallery lined with a kaleidoscopic array of artsy creations from B.C. craftspeople, the ever-changing displays here can included everything from glass art animals to fibre art figures and from swirling nature canvases to ceramic bowls shaped like sheep. It’s a browser’s paradise for the creatively inclined.
15. The Drive Skate Shop
A pilgrimage destination for local and visiting skateboard nuts, the chatty experts at this near-legendary Commercial Drive store are highly adept at helping everyone from experienced boarders to novice skaters looking to set up their first deck. Expect amazing gear and equipment plus the chance to hangout with lots of like-minded dudes.
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