You will see what looks like First Nation artifacts, beadwork etc
look carefully, not all of these are made by local craftsmen,
The easy way to tell- the more expensive stuff is more likely to be handmade,
and possibly local. Some of the rest of the stuff might even be made in China.
Cows is an ice cream/souvenier shop on Banff Avenue. As soon as you walk in the door there is a giant smiling cow looking back at you. The ice creeam is on one side of the store and the souveniers mostly on the other, but pretty much mixed in all around. They have delicious ice cream at a reasonable price in quite a few flavors. A one scoop cone is huge and less than $4. They also have various cow t-shirts, postcards and other souveniers. I bought cow slippers from there :) A very cute, unique store.
This is the main street in town that's lined with various restaurants and shops. You'll see your normal stand-by's, such as Starbucks, Gap, McDonald's, but there are also many quaint local shops. There's also a lot of tourist gift shops-keychains, shirts, refrigerator magnets and the like.
This shop I would say is very different , you walk in and this HUGE cow stares at you , and of course they do sell items with cows on it ,Imagine bringing home a gift from Banff
and it has cows on it .
There is also ice cream you can buy in this store , ice cream ,milk ,cows.
This is way different, don't miss it when in Banff.
What to buy: I will leave that up to you,make it special.
The stores and malls all along Banff Ave are full of everything you can imagine. Most ly touristy trinkets of course, but there's also a Gap store for example. Not as expensive as stores in even more remote locations, but it is generally pretty pricy. Some smaller, out-of-the-way stores inside malls may have better deals.
What to buy: If you'll be going to other places (Calgary, Edmonton, etc) then wait until you're in a big city before you buy the generic souvenirs. If you're looking for something uniquely Banff, then you may have to buy it there.
Gift shops are abundant in Banff, and all offer books and mediocre souveniers. Many signs are in Japanese, for tourists from that country.
Also on the main drag: A specialty Candy store and the Hudson's Bay Company!