Shopping in Vancouver
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Unlike many cities where suburban malls have taken over, Vancouver is full of individual boutiques and specialty shops. Art galleries, ethnic markets, gourmet-food shops, and high-fashion outlets abound, and both Asian and First Nations influences in crafts, home furnishings, and foods are quite prevalent.
Vancouver has a community of budding fashion designers whose creative clothes and accessories populate the boutiques in the Gastown, Cambie Village, and Main Street/Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods. The monthly Portobello West Market is also an exciting showcase for emerging local designers.
Of course, Vancouver does have many of the same chain stores that you can find across North America, primarily downtown on Robson Street and in the malls. "Mall" doesn't just mean the Gap and Abercrombie, though, particularly in suburban Richmond where shopping destinations cater to an upscale Asian community. If you're not headed to Hong Kong, Beijing, or Tokyo, Richmond could be the next best thing.
In the art scene, look for First Nations and other aboriginal art, from souvenir trinkets to stellar, quality, contemporary designs; many galleries showcasing First Nations artists are in Gastown. Area artisans also create a variety of fine crafts, exhibiting and selling their wares at the Granville Island galleries.
Food—especially local seafood (available smoked and packed to travel), cheeses from British Columbia and across Canada, and even locally made chocolates, jams, and other goodies—make tasty souvenirs (or delicious picnic fare along the way). B.C. also has a rapidly maturing wine industry and local shops give advice about the region's offerings (and tastings, too). Just note the restrictions about taking alcohol back into your home country before you stock up.
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