Vv Magazine’s West Coast editor, Alex Gill, visits the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport and gives you the scoop on the vibe, the food, and of course, the clothes.
Metro Vancouver’s first outlet mall — the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport – caused massive jams, flight delays and a few scuffles (in the lineup outside the Coach store) when it opened last month. We may have taken our sweet time getting there, but we were mightily impressed when we did. Why?
It’s easy to get there
If you take the Canada Line, it’s only a 20-minute ride to Templeton Station from downtown. The mall is a three-minute walk from the station, which is located on the far side of the parking lot. We drove and ending up spending way more time searching for an empty space. In fact, the parking lot is so huge we almost felt like we were in Ontario’s Mississauga.
It looks like Disney World
The open-air strolls and piazzas are supposed to evoke a European village, but we think the robin-egg-blue turreted façade is more magical kingdom. We were kind of surprised to discover the en plein air shopping concept. In photographs, the bright skies and fluffy white clouds look like the painted ceiling at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Much like the faux-sunsets at the Forum Shops, those skies sure are going to change come fall. Who had the brilliant idea of building an outdoor shopping centre in a city where it rains for six months a year? Pure genius.
The food rocks
Caffé Artigiano is the only permanent food vendor operating at the moment. Japadog and Bibo Pizzeria have storefronts, but they won’t be ready for a few months. Until then, the outlet mall has invited various independents to serve customers as pop-ups. There are rotating food trucks out front, and a Japadog stand inside. Nice Vice Creamery (dairy-free vegan ice cream) and The Capilano Tea House & Botanical Soda Company occupy a couple of empty shops.
Best of all, the ever-popular Vancouver food hub Hawkers Market has opened Hawkers Mercado as a temporary artisan food hall. Among the various vendors, you’ll find aerated foie gras and caviar burrata salads from chef Jefferson Alvarez at 5entido5, beef barbacoa tacos and made-to-order churros at Hugos Tacos, and freshly steamed baos at Dinner by Bayan. The food is amazingly good. Too bad it won’t be there for long.
It could lead to more jet-setting options
True, it’s a bit to weird to see an airport running an off-site shopping centre. (They even have flight screens in the guest services office.) But this tract of land at the foot of the Arthur Laing Bridge was apparently unsuitable for aviation purposes. Instead of letting it sit empty, the Vancouver International Airport Authority teamed up with the McArthurGlen Group, Europe’s leading developer of outlet malls. If all goes well (and there’s a big second-phase expanses slated for 2017), mall revenue will help YVR lower fees for international airlines, and thus potentially attract more of them.
Last, but certainly not least – it has great shopping. There are approximately 30 outlets offering up to 70 per cent off regular retail prices, and more opening each week, including Armani, Polo, Calvin Klein and J. Crew Factory. Coach and Nike almost always have a big lineups outside, so be prepared to wait. We found some great deals at Hugo Boss and SL (an offshoot of Secret Location) and scored a hot-red sheath for only $50 at Banana Republic. It wasn’t any cheaper than the online Factory store, but much like reading books or having sex, shopping is so much more satisfying offline.
Have you visited the McArthurGlen outlet mall yet? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.