If you’re coming in to play the retail field, we’ve got the playbook.
Holiday shopping is not an endeavour to be taken lightly. It’s serious business, and without the inside scoop on Calgary’s best spots, you may literally shop till you drop. Save your valuable energy for sipping eggnog lattes, and use this game plan to give you home-ice advantage.
Play One: Malls! Malls! Malls!
There’s no doubt about it. Calgary is mega mall heaven. Hitting up any one of these four retail giants will have you well on your way to holiday shopping completion.
This mall has a well-earned reputation as the go-to holiday shopping destination. It’s a retail playground that encompasses over 250 premium brand-name stores (many of which are Calgary’s only location, such as Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn). Adding to this retail paradise is the recently unveiled expansion with over 60 new retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch, Anthropologie, Burberry, Hollister, Michael Kors, Urban Outfitters and Steve Madden.
Meet Calgary’s newest shopping centre with an exclusive appeal: outlet shopping. Shopaholics will go gaga for the 200 brand name and premium outlet stores. Some of the mall’s heavyweights are Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Michael Kors, Coach, Forever XXI and PINK by Victoria’s Secret. There’s also a Buttercream Bake Shoppe for when the perfect gift is the perfect cupcake.
Voted the "Top Shopping Centre" by the Calgary Herald’s 2009 Readers' Choice Awards, Market Mall is North Calgary’s largest mall. Situated away from the bustling downtown core, Market Mall can be less crowded during the holiday rush than its other mall rivals. But don’t let that fool you; this mall has serious retail prowess with over 220 fashion and lifestyle brands including the Apple Store, H&M, Aritzia, Sephora and the Disney Store.
Welcome to comfort shopping. Southcentre is recently renovated and boasting holiday must-haves from the likes of Coach, Crate & Barrel, Lululemon, Restoration Hardware and many, many more. Plus, when your male shopping companion starts to fade, he can be lovingly deposited in the Sports Zone – an area devoted to showing all-day action on two 65” HD TVs furnished with plush leather seats.
Play Two: Unique Attire & Adornments
After the mall gambit, you should have posted a serious lead in your holiday shopping bout. Now, it’s time to start hunting for the gifts that are a little bit funky, a little bit high fashion and a whole lot one-of-a-kind.
Put some presents under the tree from the runways of New York, Paris and Calgary. With three floors of cutting edge, chic boutique shopping, Fashion Central is the place to check off the hard-to-buy-for trendsetter on your list. Spread across three restored historic buildings in the downtown core, you’ll find designer brands uncommon in a mall setting (like Betsey Johnson), plus local and Canadian fashion designer boutiques. And the shoes! You simply have to see them to believe them.
Play Three: Unwind with a Shop ‘n’ Stroll
With lots of parcel hunting already complete, you can now enjoy a style of holiday shopping from days gone by. Wandering through the snowflake filled air from shop to shop will make your cheeks rosy with delight.
Historic Inglewood’s 9 Avenue SW
Calgary’s original main street is waiting for you to lace up your walking winter boots and meander through an eclectic blend of 140 merchants and services. Inglewood definitely has it all from trendy fashion boutiques to antique hunting to the latest in interior décor. Don’t forget to grab a hot bevy from one of the many eateries and cafes along the way!
Hip & Trendy 17th Avenue SW
Formerly known as "The Red Mile," for the joyful mob of fans who swarmed here during the Flames' 2004 Stanley Cup run, 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District offers a long stretch of quirky and cool shops. Your stroll will take you on an exciting tour of pin-up and second hand threads, odd and intriguing trinkets and some of the best stores in town to pick up a snowboard. It’s also your best bet for finding a warm and welcoming pub, tapas bar or hearty vegetarian meal after your day of searching is done.
Kensington’s Lively 10 Street NW & Kensington Road NW
The corner of 10 Street and Kensington Road presents a tough decision for the holiday shopper; do you go right for great shopping or left for great shopping? Both of these “main streets” have a myriad of shops full of unique gift options like exotic teas, top-notch cycling gear and funky accessories. You’ll also find numerous boutiques stocked with stylish fashions for adults and children alike. No matter which road you explore first, you’ll love the quaint, village feel of this area.
Play Four: Toys Outside the Toy Box
We’ve definitely saved the best play for last. A quick glance at the window display in front of either one of these stores will have you, and your inner child, brimming with holiday spirit.
Livingstone & Cavell Extraordinary Toys
In this toy cornucopia, jaws dropping and eyes widening are a common sight. The shelves are brimming with the best of the old (think little red wagons) as well as vintage-inspired toys with a new twist (including educational toys). For the young at heart on your shopping list, there are plenty of novelty moustaches and classic gags. Located in the charming Kensington shopping district, this is a workshop even Santa could learn from.
Calgary’s diverse shopping scene will ensure that you find the perfect gift for every friend, brother or third cousin on your list. However, as you peruse through Calgary’s retail bounty, be sure to sneak in a little something for the often overlooked person on your list, you.