Laval, Quebec, Canada
If evaluated by the quality of its stores, number of stores, and difficulty in finding a parking space, Carrefour Laval is the leading shopping mall in greater Montreal.
The mall, located in the northern suburb of Montreal at the intersections of Autoroute 440 (a commuter by-pass of the city) and 15 (a major north-south highway that extends from the US border to the Laurentian mountains north of Montreal), has 354 stores and is ranked as the 10th largest mall in Canada.
Carrefour Laval boasts several stores that have no other locations in Quebec, especially branches of major US retailers like Crate & Barrel (which opened one of its “complete stores”—that is, one with a complete line of furniture as well as household items) and Williams Sonoma (which opened a flagship store, one that is twice as large and three times as nice as its nearest store in Burlington, Vermont, meaning it has merchandise we can only get here). Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory also has a store in the mall. Coach does, too. And Apple opened its first store in Quebec here (though it has opened several others since).
Other retailers, such as department stores the Bay, Sears, and Simons, have upgraded stores at Carrefour Laval. These stores features expanded selections of merchandise and more pleasant shopping environments than in other malls. For example, the Bay at Carrefour Laval is significantly nicer than the main store in downtown Ottawa. The Sears in Carrefour Laval is reminiscent of the Sears in former Eaton’s locations, rather than the stores-that-resemble-a-living-depression, such as the Sears in Place Vertu.
Although Williams Sonoma and Crate & Barrel are likely to siphon off some of the customers for home goods, local stores Le Living and Z’Axe each have unique, European-inspired collections that offer a stylistic alternative to the American chains.
Similarly, the mall features superb francobiblioteque Renaud-Bray, which has a a great selection of books and gifts, the quirky gift shop, Clair de Lune, and a Stylo.ca, the store with more pens than Burea en Gros (Staples).
The primary strength of the mall, however, is its selection of fashion retailers. With its one-of-a-kind selection, Simons leads the pack, along with a reinvigorated Bay. Other major retailers here include global favorites Armani Exchange, BCBG Max Azria, H&M, Lacoste, and Zara, American staples American Eagle, aerie, American Apparel, Gap, Banana Republic Old Navy, Ecko, Victoria’s Secret, and Levis, and Canadian favorites Buffalo, Guess, Parasuco, LeChateau, Reitman’s, and Rudsak, among others. With stores as varied as Aldo, Brown’s, B2,Clark’s, Ecco, Mephisto, Nine West, Spring, Steve Madden and Stuart Weitzman, shoe-a-holics will likely need a meeting of Shoes Anonymous after leaving the mall.
The other key strength of the mall is its food court: simply the best in greater Montreal. Some of its stalls are unique to this mall, such as Le Smart Burger and a fast-food version of local favorite L’Academie; some are mini-restaurants, such as Tatami Sushi and JavaU, and one (soon two) are full-scale restaurants (Table 51, The Keg Steakhouse (under construction). And none are McDonald’s, Burger King or Wendy’s. In an effort to reduce waste, all of the food court outlets use real plates, glasses, and silverware.
Originally opened in 1974 as a typical suburban mall and a central shopping address in “downtown Laval,” this mall seems to have developed its character through expansions and renovations that happened over time and brought a different mix of retailers and raised its status.
But the mall seems like a particularly cutthroat one. Some seemingly “sure thing” stores have closed in recent years, including a Tommy Hilfiger store (to make room for Williams Sonoma) and British sensation Topshop (which lasted less than a year, closing to make way for Victoria’s Secret).
Mall at a Glance
Variety of Merchandise: Number of categories—limited. Primarily fashion and home fashions. Within those categories, however, an excellent selection. Other than a Sony Store, a Centre du Rasoir, and the selections at Sear’s, Rona, and the Bay, a limited electronics selection.
Food Court: The nicest in metro Montreal. Spacious, upscale appointments (premium seating, real plates and silverware—not paper and plasticware). Although it has many of the Montreal food court staples (like Thai Express and Manchu Wok), it also has some unique, higher quality offerings, including Le Smart Burger (make sure you get the fries), Torino Grill, and a JavaU.
Wikipedia page: Tells the history of the mall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrefour_Laval