Sentry Box: Science Fiction / Fantasy Lovers and Board Gamers
A combination book and game store specializing in science fiction and fantasy. You enter on a raised deck that looks down on the main store. To the right is a room for online multi-player computer gaming. To the left are tables for card trading and playing games. Down on the main floor are games, game paraphernalia, and books. Across the room is a staircase leading up to a room with even more games.
What to buy: The selection of science fiction / books is amazing. At something like 20,000 books, if it's in print, they probably have it in stock.
- Study Abroad
- Arts and Culture
17th Avenue: Trendy Spot to Shop
This has been nicknamed "The Red Mile" from the Calgary Flames' NHL playoff series - google it to see the very cool pictures! However, year-round this is a trendy spot to shop and eat some lunch or go out for a coffee meet with friends. The avenue is alive at all hours of the day, espically on fridays and saturdays when the pubs and clubs are open late. You can shop for everyting from second-hand vintage (at stores like 'Divine Decadence'), to Hip-Hop gear, or stain-glass lamps (check out 'Rubiyat').
What to buy: A must buy on 17th Ave is an icecream cone from Phil's IceCream - a locally owned and operated shop that has been hailed for "the best icecream in the west"! They have everything from the extremely rare: Wasabi & Lychee Icecream (!!) to classic French Vanilla.
Stephan Avenue: Fun Outdoor / Indoor Day Shopping
This is a series of city blocks that are covered in nice cafes, pubs, and little shops. The traffic is not allowed through during the daytime, so in the summer months there are usually vendors (everything from paintings and jewellery to popcorn) in the streets with booths. There is TD Square (a mall) and The Bay Block (another large mall).
What to buy: I think there are a few little shops with Canada postcards and keychains and things like that. But there are also a few Western Wear shops where you can find the nice authentic cowboy hats which are a Calgary tradition!
What to pay: For a very nice cowboy hat you can spend upwards of $100 CAD, but they are available at ALL price ranges - even $5 straw ones with whistles for the kids!
Riley & McCormick: So you want to be a cowboy
Or maybe you just want to fit in during Stampede week. Visit Riley & McCormick for a great selection in Western Wear: hats, boots, shirts and jeans for men and ladies. They’ve actually been a Western Wear mail order house since 1901. With the advent of the internet you can explore their catalog online.
What to buy: Riley & McCormick is the preferred supplier to Tourism Calgary, so if you see a White Hat ceremony, chances are this is where the hat came from.
- School Holidays
Real Canadian Super Store: Cheap Groceries
This store is a grocery store which i find to be one of the cheapest in the city. It also contains millions of other things that a department store would carry. It is hudge and will take a little time to go through. So if time is an issue don't go here. A lot is sold in bulk but you can get really good prices on small things too. Almost anything you could want for a house you will find there.
What to buy: This is just for stuff you may need not anything special. I find it hard to find out about grocery stores before i go somewhere so i figured it would be helpful
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
- Road Trip
IKEA, Chapters, Old Navy: Excellent Choice
After we had finished our day-trip to Banff National Park, the next day was devoted to shopping for the ladies! We first went to a great shopping mall called Chinook Centre. It has tons of shops and restaurants in a very modern setting.
After having a look to see what was playing at the IMAX theatre, we split up, with the ladies checking out various clothing stores while I browsed in Chapters bookstore. I found the missing 19th novel in the old naval series that I am reading (I was on number 18 and had #20 at home) as well as another novel on an account of UN peacekeeper hostages in Sierra Leone two years ago.
From there, we drove to the other side of Calgary to pick up some bits of furniture at IKEA that my daughter had her eye on (let's just call it an early Christmas present!). Since she does not have a car, this was a great chance to save on the US$38 delivery charge. There was a bit of a hassle in actually picking up the pieces from their warehouse (down to the last item on the major piece) but it all got sorted in the end. Luckily, the little Toyota Echo rental car had fold-down rear seats so we could stick the bar countertop in through the trunk of the car!
I'm not much of a shopper, but it was a fun day even for me!
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
Shopping Areas: Discount Shoppers Unite!
The Westhills/Signal Hill area is a maze of stores, restaurants and theatres. Most importantly, DISCOUNT is the operative word. There are some regular chain stores here such as MIchael's(crafts), Mikasa (china), and Pier One.
Westhills is in suburban Calgary, and is located at the intersection of Sarcee Trail SW and Richmond Road. Club Monaco has it's discount store here, as well as Roots Canada. I find I score great deals at Roots, as their clothes normally tend to be good quality but a little over priced. Good selection of children's wear; there tends to be more women's clothing, but great deals on sweats for the guys. Also, check out The Gap's discount store as well. Zeller's is the place to find the Mossimo label, fashion-forward clothing at cheap, cheap prices.
The Shoe Company is worthwhile shopping for discounted shoes, and I find it better than PayLess Shoes. The Real Canadian Superstore is a big supermarket; however, you're here not for the food, but the housewares and books. If you're looking for a popular book, check it out here, as it's usually sold much cheaper than at the big Canandian chain, Chapters, which is across the street. The housewares are made under the Superstore house label, President's Choice, but are of comparable quality and style as stuff you find at IKEA. Many of the items are anonymously created by high-end designers. Put on your browsing shoes, and be prepared to hit Winner's. Winner's is a Canadian chain that specializes in discount designer wear, big names and small. They also have discounted housewares as well. You may have to spend your time going through the racks, but you when you find something, it's 30-50% off the retail price. Jacob is another women's clothing store worth browsing in. Give yourself at least 4 hours to get through all the stores, and you can refuel at Starbuck's or Second Cup You can dump off whiny non-shoppers at the Famous Players Cinema.
Chocolates Heaven- Calgary: If you know (or are) a Chocoholic.....
I was looking for something to bring back for the family (also the co-workers) and I walked past this shop after leaving the Galleria Arts & Crafts in the Kensington shopping district. The chocolates are beautifully crafted and the taste is amazing. The selection is split between molded chocolates, for example novelty items like sports equipment, and handcrafted choclates like their hand-made truffles. The chocolate relies on flavorings, not sugar, for its taste.
What to buy: A sampler is a good way to go - a little taste of everything, although I really enjoyed the latest creation, an Oreo-cookie-like treat of a vanilla cream between 2 dark chocolate wafers.
What to pay: Expensive but worth it. By piece the chocolates can average $1 CA, but I'd rather have one first-rate chocolate that a dozen mediocre ones.
- Food and Dining
Real Canadian Superstore: Everything under one roof!!!
This is one of my favorite places to shop. My friends and I can spend hours in here, because everything is cheap and you can get everything from bath and bedding, to home furnishings, to make-up to groceries all in one stop. It is not unusual to see us spending a Sunday afternoon here, and then getting so absorbed we lose eachother and have to be paged to the front desk. This place has it all!
A warning, though...if you come in the afternoons on weekends or in the evenings, be prepared for some traffic, it can get pretty busy...especially before a long weekend or holiday event.
What to buy: EVERYTHING! They have generic brands of almost everything, so you can get things like vitamins or cleaning supplies at a lower cost as long as you don't care about the brand name.
What to pay: Depends on what you want. Anywhere from $100-$1,000 depending on your needs
- Budget Travel
Community Natural Health Food Store: Organic anyone?
There are two of these stores in the city, and since the health craze has kicked into high gear, I am sure more will be opening up soon.
This is the grocery store for those who appreciate higher priced, yet organic and all natural foods. They have a large selection of everything from organic produce, soy products, sugar free substitutes, herbs, vitamins and minerals that seem to be never ending, gluten free, carb free and fat free items (even bread!) and even a deli and cafe where you can eat all of these delecacies and feel like you have done your body good.
What to buy: You need to try the hemp nacho chips...they have such a different taste and texture you eat the whole bag trying to figure out if you like them or not. As well, the Wild Rose Herbal Detox kit is a 12 day cleanse that is very popular for those who have beaten up their bodies in foo dor drink.
What to pay: It is higher priced than the usual grocery store, thats for sure, but it is relative with all other organic shops.
- Food and Dining
Chinook Centre: All that and a bag of chips
This is the wonderland mall of Calgary. Ever since it was renovated a few year sago, it has become the paradise for Calgarian shopoholics. Just a few of the hundreds of stores include Old Navy, The Bay, Gap, Sears, Sport Chek, American Eagle, Payless, Zellers, Chapters, Esprit, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, and Shoppers Drug Mart.
As well, the Mall has everything to tempt your palate...a huge food fair including Dairy Queen,Opa, A&W, Arby's, New York Fries, Chinese food, Italian and Sushi, plus dine-in restaurants such as Eastside Marios and Moxies. Also, in the food fair, you can eat while your kids go for a ride on the merry go round! (word to the wise, let them ride this before eating or you may have wasted $10 on their meal).
The piece de resistance is the huge movie theatre located in the mall, where you can see all the movies you want for only $16 each person! Plus $20 for popcorn and pop...expensive, but well worth it if you want to see your favorite flick on a mega screen.
What to buy: During Stampede, the ultimate purchase is the perfect fitting cowboy hat, however after the 10 day extravaganza, they usually end up in the back of your closet.
There are quite a few cool jewelry shops, and since the weather is always changing around here, you can never have enough clothes...which is why the all-season clothing shops are a cash cow.
What to pay: Depends on what you want to buy...for clothes, the prices can range anywhere from $10 for a tank top (Old Navy) to $1000 or more for a dress (fancy boutiques)
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
Mountain Equipment Co-op: Outdoor Gear/Clothing
Being close to the mountain parks, Calgary has many outdoor equipment/clothing stores. Mountain Equipment Co-op is probably Canada's best outdoor store. MEC (as affectionally called by locals) has a wide range of outdoor gear and clothing, attractively displayed on two levels, all at reasonable prices. There is also a climbing wall located in the store as well.
To be able to shop, you must be a member (hence the co-op part of the name), which is easily done by paying $5.00. This keeps prices low.
Their clothing is well-constructed and durable; If you are looking for North Face or Columbia, you will not find it here. If you want big names, you can go across the street to Coast Mountain Sports
What to buy: All types of sporting and camping equipment and clothing. They do not carry items for hunting, fishing, or downhill skiing.
You will spot many Calgarians wearing their clothing for just knocking about town, as it is well-styled and comfortable.
What to pay: Prices tend to be reasonable or downright cheap; if you compare with big names at other stores, you'll be amazed by the low price for the same quality.
Shopping Areas: Fourth Street
The Fourth Street shopping area extends from 12th Ave. SW, south to Elbow Drive SW.
Besides the Lilac Festival, the area is more known for it's restaurants, with some gift, art galleries, and specialty shops thrown in.
Aida's Mediterranean Bistro has great Lebanese food, and Antionio's Garlic Clove has garlic in everything on their menu. Definitely not for garlic haters! Bin 905 is the place to stop for that special bottle of wine; the staff there are friendly and knowledgeable. Earl's Tin Palace caters to the after work crowd, but it's a place you can take your family for a bite to eat. It offers good middle-of-the-road food at reasonable prices. Don't miss "Margarita Mondays". If you're needing new sportswear or running shoes, Forzani's Tech Shop is the place to pick them up. Speaking of sportswear, Lululemon Athletica is a yoga wear mecca; be forwarned, the prices aren't cheap, but their clothes are durable and well-made.The Planet has fantastic coffee, but at times you'll have to fight through a crowd of regulars puffing up a haze of smoke to get to the counter. If you can't get enough, there's a second Urban Barn location (see Kensington shopping) here, as well.
Shopping Areas: 17th Avenue
This area stretches from 4th Street SW, along 17th Ave. SW, to 14th St. SW. It is referred to as "Uptown 17" and is one of the more trendier places to shop and eat, away from the sterile big chains in the malls. There are over 200 stores in the area, and do turn off 17th Ave., and head north up 11th St., for more stores as well.
Stop by Gravity Pope and try on some funky shoes, and choose an outfit at Purr to go with them. If your taste runs more sophisticated, Primitive Culture, and Focus Clothing tend to have more higher-end designer wear, good to wear to the office or for that big night on the town. Ooh La La carries the big designer names such as Anna Sui and Narcisco Rodriguez, and subsequently big price tags. Smyth and Kang carries stuff for the guys.
For breakfast, try Nellie's(huge line ups on the weekend -- try the other location Nellie's Cosmic Cafe down the road if this is the case). If you're hungry for lunch, stop by The Arden Diner(owned by famed Canadian singer Jann Arden) for good diner-inspired food. For coffee or tea, try Steeps Tea House or Cafe Beanno. For dinner, drop by The Living Room or Chez Jo Jo. For a drink, try the cocktail atmosphere of The Mercury, or the more pub atmosphere of The Ship and Anchor.
Crossroads Market/Artspace Gallery
This is not my favorite market -- the former Blackfoot Farmer's Market is, but at this time, the landlord has broken the lease off with the tenants. I will be updating this when I hear what is going on.
The Crossroads Market is entertaining -- it's an art gallery, farmer's market and flea market all rolled into one, plus a food court. The building and land used to be an old stockyard, and it used to be the Stockyards Market until Crossroads lost their home and moved in. The indoor part of the market is open year round, with the outside farmer's market open from June to October. The produce is okay, but much of it comes from California, and you don't see a lot of local stuff. However, the indoor market and art gallery is a good way to kill some time on a rainy day, and you may find some deals; be forwarned, you may have to sort through a lot of junk.
When you enter the Artspace Gallery and leave the crowds at the market, it's hard to believe you are in the same place. The gallery occupies the top floor of the old stockyard building, and is an oasis of quiet. There are also some shops and artist's studios, and Artspace also tends to have regular art/cocktail events. Artspace is closed on Mondays.
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