Thursday, August 27, 2009

American Shopping!

In just 3 short weeks, David and I will be travelling to the USA, land of the free and home of the best shopping ever.  In fact, I think Americans were born to shop.

While I generally prefer shopping at unique, one-of-a-kind boutiques, the fact is, I still love American chains stores.  We only have a few of them in Canada, and only in the big centres.  

We have Pottery Barn, but only a tiny store in Calgary, and they don't carry half the stock.  

We have Williams Sonoma for great kitchen things, but 
not Williams Sonoma Home:  
We are getting a Crate & Barrel in Calgary sometime late this year, and there's one Anthropologie in all of Western Canada, if you don't mind driving 4 hours to Edmonton.

And don't even talk to me about fashion.  Thankfully, we have my beloved Banana Republic here, but not J.Crew, where this season seems to be all about orange and pale green and grey!
And we don't have any of your department stores, like Neimann Marcus or Macy's or Bloomingdales or whatever the names are.  We have Walmart.  Thanks.  And Home Depot.  But no Lowe's anywhere else but in Toronto.

Oh, and we don't have Target!  There is no L.L. Bean, nor Ralph Lauren (there was one in Toronto, but I think it closed. You have to go to Holt Renfew for Ralph Lauren).   And I think Toronto has a Barnes & Noble, or maybe that's Borders.

But hey, Toronto is VERY far from here!  For a brief geography lesson, I am in Calgary, which is in the PINK province on the left and Toronto is in the ORANGE one, north of New York State. Not very convenient for shopping.  A four-hour flight, to be precise.
So....all this to say that I can't wait to hit the malls in the good old USA, or even better...the outlet stores!  American outlet stores are the best.  Ever since I was a kid and we travelled to the wonderful outlets in Maine, I've loved a good old American outlet shopping spree.  I still have Ralph Lauren towels I bought 20 years ago for $3 apiece and I still wear my LL Bean rubber boots.

What's your favorite American decor or fashion chain?  Any hot tips for me (we will be in the DC area)?

Photos:  All decor photos by Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma Home.  Clothing by J.Crew
Canada map from Google Images.


  1. How exciting! I guess I love American chain stores, too. I just didn't know how much till I was reading your list. :)

    I think my favorite is the Gap. But that's just Banana Republic's cheaper younger sister.

  2. Have a wonderful time lovely. I'm v envious of you; about a month ago I spent nearly everyday looking at US home department stores, gosh I'd really love to go shopping in them. I especially fell in love with Crate and Barrel, West Elm, William Sonoma and of course Anthropologie!!!


  3. I just tagged that J.Crew coat last night. Hope you have a great trip.

  4. I hope you are going to Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia. One of the greatest malls. Also there is a Chelsea Premium Outlet in Jackson, VA not that close but not 4 hours by plane either. MB

  5. OMG! I'm so excited for you. U.S. shopping is the best!! We just got back from 4 days in New York and I'm still on a shopping high. Not that I bought a lot, the looking was fantastic. I WISH we had Barnes and Noble in Toronto, or Borders. We have neither. We just got Anthropologie and West Elm this year, and Bath and Body Works for delicious soaps and candles. Yum. Have a wonderful trip.

  6. The outlets you'll want to visit are Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets in Leesburg, VA. That outlet mall has tons of home stores (PB, C&B, Restoration Hardware, William Sonoma) and many of the designer brands for which you're looking (Saks, Ann Taylor, Banana Rep, J. Crew, Kate Spade, etc).

    Keep in mind that most of the clothing companies now make a separate, cheaper line for their outlets. The quality of the stuff at the Banana Republic outlet is pretty bad compared to the BR stores.

    As for other places to visit, for some furniture porn, check out the Baker Furniture store in Georgetown. If you ask, they will show you to the basement, where floor models go to die (and get massively discounted). They don't mind design nerds like us coming in the fawn over things and not buy. The staff is really lovely.

    The DC Design Center is open to the public, so that's a fun place to visit for upscale designer showrooms.

    Another great stretch of home stores is in Old Town Alexandria. King Street is about 16 blocks long and is full of great boutiques. The top (west) end of the street has many nice home stores. Some of the streets have sample stores and designer consignment shops.

    If it rains, there are two indoor outlet malls within an hour of DC. Potomac Mills is in Woodbridge, VA and it is a mish mosh of brands, from high end to low end. There is also an Ikea there. The other indoor outlet mall called Arundel Mills in Hanover, Maryland.

    Just a few tips about restaurants: If you find yourself in the U Street area, check out Rice. It's a great Thai place. If you are in Old Town Alexandria, check out the Braebo Tasting Room at the top of King Street, right in front of the Lorien Hotel & Spa. That hotel and that restaurant are our favorites! I think I even blogged about them a few weeks ago.

    Have fun! Enjoy your visit! Be sure to walk the National Mall and give yourself PLENTY of time if you want to see all of the monuments.

  7. I love your blog! I should have said so some time ago!
    Yes, we Americans know how to shop that's for sure. Whether it's a good thing or bad, well that depends on ones perspective at the moment. Have fun in DC... looks like you've gotten some great tips!
    I'll be back more regularly and make myself known form now on :)

  8. Love your blog! And trust me, you will do some serious damage in Georgetown. There is a cavernous Anthro and a great J.Crew -- which is pretty much the unofficial uniform of DC folk.I love it.

    Once you're off the main, chain-heavy strip on M St. head up Wisconsin Avenue for the cuter boutiques, galleries and shops.

    Definitely let me know if you'd like more advice -- I love being a virtual tour guide. :)

  9. Terri- let me know your schedule- I'm right oustide of DC!!!I'm 10 minutes from Tyson's Corner (the mall soneone mentioned above) !!

    I haven't been clothing shopping lately because of our new house & of course being pregnant- hah it's just not as fun!!

    You'll have to try White House Black Market..

    Yes, and definitely be careful of the cothing quality at the outlets.. most of the time, they are totally separate brands & of lower quality. I realized a couple of years ago that you pay for what you get at the outlets.

    Also, for some really good deals (and designer stuff at discounted prices) try TJ Maxx's or Marshall's... You have to comb through but it's worth it.

    ok, keep me posted on your trip & would love to meet up if you all have any spare time!!

  10. I guess I do take our big chains for granted. I actually try my best not to shop them! I have been trying really hard to shop local, small businesses. That being said, I love to wander through PB. Their stores are so well merchandised that it is almost impossible to leave empty-handed. I have had good results at the Theory outlet near our home. It is the exact same merchandise that is in the department stores just drastically reduced. Last year I bought 2 pairs of pants that I tried on at Macys for over $250. I bought them at the outlet for $89. They are made really well and will probably last a lifetime. Everyone has given you such good advice, I'll know you will have so much fun.


  11. Totally agreeing about the Leesburg outlets. And for me, the Ikea in Woodbridge would be a must!

  12. Ha en fin ferie i USA. Have a nice trip to USA. You have an interesting blog. From a reader in Norway.

  13. Just found your it.I too am a Canadian but living in Connecticut just outside of NYC.It's a shopping mecca here and I must say I take it for granted.I now do most shopping on-line.Make sure and visit Tyson's Corners when you're in DC (I used to live there) and also, in Alexandria for the best hamburgers (not fancy) go to Five Brothers.....Have fun!

  14. That sounds fun! I have never heard about these stores except from Pottery Barn which I would love to visit!
    xo Poppins

  15. Anonymous6:58 pm

    Oh, but don't sell yourself short!! You have Aldo, La Senza, Club Monaco, Mexx, Roots, and much more stylish, European-style clothes than we casual Americans have. My husband is from Lacombe (if you know where that is!) and I used to save all of my pennies for when we would return to Alberta for Christmas and shop West Edmonton Mall for Boxing Day! Oh, the fun this little California girl had!! You Canadians dress much classier. ;)

    As for home decor, you might have a point about the States.

  16. Anonymous10:41 am

    The Bay Downtown and I believe even the stores at Chinook and South Centre carry Ralph Lauren. There are very good small shops in Mount Royal Village.

  17. Oh Terri, Shop on sister, shop on!You'll have to come visit me. All that and more is within throwing distance! We could shop til we dropped and still not get to all the shops!!
    Can't wait to see your treasures!
    xo Isa

  18. I know how you feel. I'm in Montreal and when in the US we shop at all the stores you mentioned....Have FUN! Happy Shopping

  19. I have fogotten how much we take for granted! Every time I go on antique buying trips in England & France i remmeber, but forget shortly thereafter. Note to self: get more RAM storage for brain. Anywho, I love Orvis and LL Bean.

    Hope you have a blast. Carry small loads or you might blowout your hauling arm!

  20. What fun!! Shopping is my favorite thing to do, often its not my credit cards favorite thing to do though.

    Have a good time and I hope you get lots of good bargains!

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  22. Just have fun! I love your enthusiasm and excitement. The comments have been great - you should have no trouble finding lots of goodies. I particularly love anthropologie because I get a good dose of fashion and design when I am there! Be sure to post about your adventures!

  23. Just found your lovely blog my Canadian friend...I adore shopping in the US...we live minutes away on the boarder...I am always down there. I adore their stores...anthropologie and J.Crew my have fun shopping. I am off to visit some of your past posts and become a follower...

  24. Anonymous9:08 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. pretty cardigans, I love the frilly touches and the colors.

  26. I did not realize how great our shopping was,but we are very blessed with the choices we have in the U.S.. I hope we continue to have those choices. It is a time in our country where we are going through change. Have a great time while you are here.

  27. Hysterical to me that you mention Maine as good shopping. Have great fun on your trip and I hope that you find time to do many other things in Washington besides shop. Miss you!

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  29. I love LLBean but it is way too expensive to ship to Canada. However, Land's End is much better priced, even with exchange and duty. We have Pottery Barn in Toronto, two locations that I know of, but that is over an hour and a half from here. I love getting all their catalogs for inspiration.