Why I think Winnipeg trumps New York and Paris for shopping – Between climbing the steps to the Sacre Coeur and the bustling streets of the Latin Quarter, or watching the sunset at the top of the Empire state Building and a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty; I‘m amazed that anyone finds time to do any shopping when in New York or Paris. During my year in Paris I didn’t buy a single item of clothing, and shopping in NYC just left me stressed out by the crowds, yet within a few short weeks of regular weekend trips to Winnipeg I managed to acquire a whole new wardrobe (with shoes and accessories to match!).
I have only just scratched the surface when it comes to shopping in Winnipeg with its sprawling malls and designer outlet stores, in addition to more individual boutiques and art shops. Not being endowed with a celebrity bank balance, the lure of the big catwalk names typically found in the world’s fashion capitals is lost on me. Instead I prefer to bag myself a bargain. Although Winnipeg does cater to all wallet sizes, it is a particularly attractive shopping destination for those of us who enjoy getting a good deal and for those who have a more original flare to their fashion-sense.
Two of my personal favourite high street stores have discount outlets near Polo Park Le Chateau has quirky one-off sample pieces and chic dresses, usually retailing for around $200, at a fraction of the price – often around $50-60 but sometimes even as low as $10 (Ellice Avenue). For leather lovers, there’s Danier where I recently snapped up an Italian suede-leather jacket for less than $50 (St. James Street). If mainstream stores are not really your thing, why not head over to the Exchange District or Osborne Village where you can find designer Indie threads.
By this time you’re probably ready for a coffee break. There are plenty of spots to choose from but I particularly like the laid-back atmosphere of the Starbucks located inside Chapters bookstore on Empress Street. Free wifi access and comfortable seating, an area to study and a grand piano for public use make it a unique leisurely experience in Canada, where coffee is usually on a “to go” basis. Chapters also has some beautiful stationary to write home with and attractive objects which make it well worth a look. Similarly there is the Neighbourhood Bookstore & Cafe Ltd. located in the West end, on Westminister.
If the weather’s a bit on the nippy side and you’re planning a shopping spree, Winnipeg has several large indoor malls spread around the city. Centrally located Polo Park is the largest with over 200 stores and services. Winnipeg Square is a little different as it is underground. Other Malls include The St Vital Centre, Portage Place, Cityplace, Garden City and Kildonan Place Shopping Centre.
For Fair Trade products from around the world head to Ten Thousand Villages or if you feel the need to stretch your legs, The Forks Market, situated at a centuries-old meeting-point, is great for an afternoon stroll with its nearby walkways along the Assiniboine River. This charming shopping centre offers up tastes from every continent as well as local produce while you browse for souvenirs in the many art shops. Canadian arts and crafts are displayed alongside Asian and African trinkets. Handmade hats, gloves, shoes and clothing designs influenced by indigenous people from across the globe can be found at every turn.
Wherever you end up in Winnipeg, you are never far from shops. After 6 months here I still haven’t been to half of them! Don’t forget that in Canada VAT is not displayed on the ticket price so you have to allow for a further 11% to be added at the till on most purchases. So, what are you waiting for? Leave room in your suitcase, put on some comfy shoes and get out here for some retail therapy!