No Place for a Reformed Shopaholic
For shopping fiends, this place is a paradise. Just in Vancouver, city proper, there are stores everywhere. And if you get tired, there’s always a coffee shop or cafe the next steps over. The place is crowded, even on a weekday, although there are certain spots where you can find yourself on your own.
I recently went to three of the shopping “districts”. One of them is Gastown, located on Cordova–a street running parallel to Burrard Strait. Aside from a constantly smoking clock, this place is less of a quaint street at the waterfront and more of a total tourist trap. Every other store sells the usual postcards, pens, and shot glasses. There are a few more upscale shops selling everything from colored rooks to nesting dolls.
About two blocks east on Pender and Main is the city’s Chinatown. There are plenty of open markets and restaurants, and the entire place (like every other Chinatown I’ve been to) has this certain smell that is an amalgam of oil, fish, vegetables past their prime, and herbs. If you’re on a limited budget, this is the place to get souvenirs for your friends because compared to a lot of other places, this is cheap. (But be aware that some things are marked up as well–like books.)
Robson Street, several blocks southwest of Pender, is basically the commercial district. All the shops on this street can also be found in the nearby malls, or for that matter, at a mall near you. It was quite amusing when I noticed two Starbucks facing each other at an intersection. And both of them were at capacity, too.
I did some browsing in shops and discovered an illustrator and author I’ve never heard of before. Jimmy Spa is an illustrator of some whimsy. His art has a sense of both innocence and crispness that I find refreshing. Will Gmehling is the author of a German children’s book called Der Yeti in Berlin. So far, I haven’t discovered an English translation.
Eventually, I got tired from all this walking so I was able to find a coffee shop (not Starbucks), order a hot chocolate, and just sit back and watch the mass of humanity flow by. So the main question for the insatiably curious–did I buy anything in this land of endless retail? Well, besides food and a dollar’s worth of postcards, no. I’m a terrible shopper–most things I view as junk or stuff I can easily obtain at home as well.