Toronto, Ontario, Canada
This is Canada’s first mall—as in, first place in sales (as reported in my favorite retail blog, retail-insider.com, and not just in Canada—but at times, in all of North America), first stop in Canada for many international chains and first in my heart (along with Carrefour Laval and Place Ste-Foy). It’s a hulking, ever-growing mass hunk of Class A shopping.
The selection is outstanding. Kind of like a society page of retailers, every major retailer is here or on its way here (except Dollarama).
- The top department stores: Hudson’s Bay, Holt Renfrew and, soon, Nordstrom’s (under construction) and Simon’s.
- The top luxury retailers (in their own special luxury wing): Bulgari, Burberry, Cartier, Chanel, David Yurman, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Ted Baker, Tiffany, and Louis Vuiltton, Versace.
- The top fashion houses: Armani Exchange, Bench, Forever 21, Gap, Garage, H&M, Harry Rosen, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Levi’s, North Face, Topshop/Topman, and Zara.
- The top footwear stores: Aldo, Brown’s, B2, Ecco, Johnston & Murphy, Nine West.
- The top housewares stores: Crate & Barrel, Home Outfitters, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, and Zara Home.
- The top media, gadgets and software stores: Apple, Indigo, Microsoft, Sportchek, and Tesla.
- Yorkdale even has a Shoppers Drug Mart.
But not only is the selection of stores outstanding, most of those stores are flagship or Class A stores, meaning that they have a more extensive selection of merchandise and they display it more sumptuously than in other malls. Take Hudson’s Bay, one of the few mall stores in this chain that have been thoroughly remodeled (rather than moving a few things around and slapping some paint on them). The store is minimalist chic—like its recently opened Lord & Taylor store in Crossgates Mall in Albany, New York, and even reminiscent of Bloomingdale’s chic stores in Soho, New York, and Santa Monica, California. The layout is clean and somewhat sparse (relying mostly on paint on the wall rather than flooring and hardware to give the space style), and the merchandise attractive, easy to browse, and extensive—with merchandise not typically found in mall-based Hudson Bay stores. In fact, the only part of this store that was not renovated were the washrooms.
Similarly, the Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma stores are both flagships, which expanded merchandise (including a few of the Williams Sonoma home items that are typically only available by catalog) and have second stories (not typical of most Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma stores). In addition, Harry Rosen recently expanded and remodeled its store to be one of its stores of the future.
Despite the long list of tony store names, bargains can be found. During a recent visit, I found a desk organizer in Pottery Barn. I planned to purchase it in the US, where it cost $US 79. I found it on sale at Yorkdale for $CDN 49. I verified the price before buying it, and was heartened that some North American chains offer better prices in Canada than in the US.
Hungry? The mall offers a variety selection of food options. Its food court features china plates, real silverware, and real glasses, as is increasingly typical in middle- and upper-strata malls in Canada. But the selection of food outlets is a bit pedestrian; nothing that can’t be found in any other mall in Ontario, like Jimmy the Greek and Shanghai 360. Seating is also extremely limited; demand far exceeds the number of spaces.
Restaurants are of the chain variety: Moxie’s, Pickle Barrel. Probably the most unique choice will be in the department stores. Right now, just Holt Refrew offers a restaurant. But Nordstrom will offer, at the least, a coffee bar and Simons, if it follows the lead of its store in Galeris d’Anjou, could have a nice lunch place. Coffee options include an always-crowded Starbuck’s, a café in Indigo, a second cup, a Nespresso (which usually has great food, though high prices) and, because this is Canada, a Tim’s.
Another challenge is parking. Nearly all of the parking is in garages and no matter how much the mall expands the number of parking spaces (the number increases with each of its frequent additions), demand always seems to outstrip supply. A better choice is the Subway, which has a station that directly connects to the southeastern edge of the mall.
If you want exercise, a visit to Yorkdale will surely offer it. The mall is large, essentially on a single level, and has many, many north-south and east-west hallways. Getting around the entire mall should ensure that visitors reach or near the daily recommended count of 10,000 steps.
In other words, Yorkdale offers an unparalleled shopping experience: in terms of selection of stores, selection of merchandise within them, in terms of exercise opportunities; and in terms of finding a parking space. About the only thing that’s ordinary about this mall is the food. But that’s OK; Yorkdale is all about the shopping.
Mall at a Glance
Variety of merchandise: Fashion: Unparalleled. Footwear: Excellent. Housewares: Excellent. Electronics: Very good. Sports: Fair. General merchandise: Poor.
Prices in the mid- to upper-ranges.
Traffic is heavy, especially later in the day and on weekends, but even during weekday afternoons. Parking is almost always a challenge to find.
To avoid that, try taking the Subway to Yorkdale (has its own station that connects to the Southeast corner of the mall).
The mall is essentially a single level and has hundreds of stores. Plan on walking a lot.
Visitors from China: Yorkdale is the first mall to accept the UnionPay charge card.
Food court: One of the few upper-level stores. Features china plates, reusable silverware, and real glasses rather than disposables. Selection is ordinary: A&W, Jimmy the Greek, KFC, MachuWok, Shanghai 360, Subway, Thai Express, and Villa Madina among others.
Seating is limited, finding a table during regular meal hours can be a challenge on weekends and during holiday seasons.
Other restaurants throughout the mall, mostly Canadian chains like Milestones, Moxie’s and the Pickle Barrel.
Several options for coffee breaks, including Espressemante (Illy), Nespresso, Second Cup, Starbucks (always crowded, seating limited) and David’s Tea and Teavana (OK-tea break).
Wikipedia page (English only): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorkdale_Shopping_Centre
Website (English only): http://www.yorkdale.com