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Jockey Plaza

19 Jul

Lima, Peru

Quick Review

For Limenans, Jockey is the mall in Lima, Peru. But for visiting North Americans like me, Jockey Plaza is everything we’d probably never expect to find in a developing country.

The original design of Jockey Plaza was inspired by American malls of the 70s and 80s—with department stores at opposite ends, and two enclosed levels of stores in-between, plus a food court. This part of the mall is now called Nave Central.

But with its two anchor stores, Chilean-based Ripley and Chilean-based Saga Falabella, both establishing A-quality stores at the mall, the stores in-between represented international retailers and higher-end local retailers, like Tommy Hilfiger (a flagship), local designers Adolpho Dominquez and Joaqim Miro, local silver artist Ilaria, and American food outlets like Starbucks, KFC, and Pizza Hut. As is typical for most Peruvian malls, Jockey Plaza also contained a super market (actually, a Plaza hypermarket, where consumers can buy big screen TVs and have their eyes examined and order prescription glasses, while picking up milk and bread), and a super-sized Ace hardware. To keep shoppers around, the mall also includes ,an entertainment wing with several American restaurants (Hard Rock, Friday’s), an arcade, and a multiplex cinema. . Not surprisingly, Jockey Plaza quickly dominated the market.

But as other malls started to appear and contained many of the same stores as Jockey Plaza, Jockey decided to ensure its dominance with an expansion that more than doubles its size and, at the same time, brought many international and luxury retailers to the market. The second major section—a mall in itself—takes its design from California malls, and is outdoors (not a problem given the relatively mild, dry climate). Among its stores in this section called The Boulevard are tourist-oriented the local Kuna alpaca clothing and international jeweler, H Stern; international fashion retailers Zara, Versace, Salvador Ferragamo, Nike, H&M, Forever 21, Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein (among others), and a restaurant area with high-end restaurants (most feature reasonable lunch time specials).

To further secure its market dominance, however, Jockey Plaza expanded twice more. In the first, it added local department store Oeschle and several stores, along with a parking deck. Additional parking, a Paris department store (the fourth major anchor) and a Crate & Barrel home store from the US (its first location in Latin America) complete the latest addition, which is in the process of opening.

A second hypermarket and a Sodimac Home Center (a South American Home Depot, Lowe’s or Rona), a few car showrooms, and a medical center (Jockey Salud) complete the mall.

The mall has a book store, CD store, and musical instrument store; classes of stores that are in short supply in most North American malls.

Most tourists visit Larcomar in Miraflores, which is more of a festival-oriented tourist center than a mall intended for real people. But if you’re interested in seeing how the locals shop—and, for the shopaholics out there—interested in doing a bit of shopping yourself, Jockey Plaza is a must. Catch a movie, relax with a coffee or churro, and enjoy a meal while you visit. Heck, spend the whole day.

However, note that because most of the retailers are global and many of the local stores sell global brands, prices on many items will be comparable to home (regardless of where home is). Furthermore, the experience of driving on the Javier Prado roadway to the mall provides another insight into the local culture.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Department stores: Oeschle, Paris, Ripley, Saga Falabella. Hypermarkets: Plaza Vea, Tottus. Home improvement: Sodimac Home Center

International chains: Zara, Zara Home, Sfera, Plantanitos Shoes, Payless Shoes, Rosen (mattresses), RadioShack (now Radio Shack / Coolbox, because the US chain went bankrupt), Mango and Mango Hombre, H&M, H Stern, Forever 21, Esprit, Crate & Barrel, Adidas,

Variety of merchandise: Superb, exceeds a North American mall. Includes everything from milk and toothpaste to diamond necklaces; business suits and cars to plywood, and mobile phone contracts and computers to books and CDs. Few malls have such a wide range and deep selection in each category.

Prices range from the middle to upper ranges.

Special notes:

  • The name Jockey Plaza admittedly doesn’t sound  Spanish. The name comes from its next-door neighbor: the Jockey Club del Peru. The land is Jockey Club land (though I am not sure if they still own the land or not).
  • Traffic around the mall is a nightmare, caused partly by the large number of people who visit the mall and partly by road design nearby that’s almost guaranteed to generate congestion.
  • Prices: global products have global prices; so don’t expect super bargains. Local products available in some of the local stores offer more attractive prices. For food: in the hypermarkets, expect reasonable prices on local foods and higher-than-home prices on many international products. Fast food places in the food court are lower than in North America. Restaurant prices are similar to those in North America.

Food court: Features a variety of Peruvian and international fast food options, in a bright environment with a soaring ceiling (several stories). Options include Bembo’s (top hamburger chain in Peru), KFC, Pizza Hut, China Wok and, in the hallway linking the food court to the mall, a few dessert choices.

But note–the food court was in the midst of a renovation when I visited so the selection might change (my guess is it will increase). Even though the food court looks larger, that could be a factor of the significantly higher ceiling. The old food court was filled with tables and never had enough for everyone who wanted to use them, and I have a feeling that this situation will not improve in the remodeled food court.

Wikipedia page:

Website: (Spanish only)


Yorkdale Mall

18 May

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Quick Review

This is Canada’s first mall—as in, first place in sales (as reported in my favorite retail blog,, 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


  • Department stores: Holt-Renfrew, Hudson’s Bay. Coming: Nordstrom’s (fall 2016), Simon’s (date not announced).
  • Also: Indigo, movie theatres.

National chains:

  • Canadian firsts: Apple, Bath & Body Works, Crate & Barrel, GEOX, John Varvatos, Kate Spade, Microsft, Salvatore Ferragamo, Ted Baker, Tesla, Zara Home, Tumi, White House Black Market
  • Other stores: Aldo, Anthropologie, Chanel, Coach, Crate & Barrel, Danier Leather, Gap, Harry Rosen, Home Outfitters, Old Navy, Papyrus, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma, Zara.

Variety of merchandise: Fashion: Unparalleled. Footwear: Excellent. Housewares: Excellent. Electronics: Very good. Sports: Fair. General merchandise: Poor.

Prices in the mid- to upper-ranges.

Special notes:

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).
For visitors looking to operate without a car and who don’t mind walking through the mall with a suitcase, stay at the Holiday Inn across the street from the northwest 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):

Website (English only):

Carrefour Laval: The Classiest Mall in Montreal

23 Nov

Laval, Quebec, Canada

Quick Review

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, 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


  • Main anchors: The Bay, Sear’s, Rona, Simon’s (the Quebec-based fashion chain).
  • Mini-anchors: Bureau en Gros (Staples), Crate & Barrel, Old Navy, Zara.

National Chains:

  • Most major shoe outlets (Aldo, Brown’s, B2,Clark’s, Ecco, Mephisto, Nine West, Spring, Steve Madden and Stuart Weitzman).
  • Major fashion outlets: Armani Exchange, BCBG Max Azria, H&M, Lacoste, and Zara, American Eagle, aerie, American Apparel, Gap, Banana Republic Old Navy, Ecko, Victoria’s Secret, and Levis, Buffalo, Guess, Parasuco, LeChateau, Reitman’s, and Rudsak, among others.
  • Local surprises: Claire de Lune, Le Living (home goods), Renuad-Bray (francophone books and gifts), Pain d’Or (bakery—with bread and other goodies intended to be taken home), Z’Axe (home goods).

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.



Review: Malls of Europe and South America

15 Aug

We didn’t limit our shopping to department stores, but that was the only class of shopping we did in nearly every city we visited.  Otherwise, our shopping experiences varied among cities.

  • In some, we visited malls.
  • In others, we visited shopping districts.
  • In all, we noticed the brands (marcas in Spanish) that appeared—and didn’t appear—in the stores.
  • And because we noticed the same brands, of course we compared merchandise.

A highlight of our visits to Lima, Istanbul and Paris were visits to the malls.  Yes, I know that’s tres Americain, but hey, that’s what I am.  We like malls because, in addition to shopping, they offer free air conditioning or heat (depending on the season) and, occasionally, other unique benefits.

Larcomar, Lima:  In Lima, we visited three malls.  Of the three, tourists are probably most familiar with Larcomar, a mall located at the edge of the tony Miraflores district and dramatically built into a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  In fact, it’s barely visible at street level because it is built below a city park.  Larcomar is situated across the street from a J.W. Marriott hotel and within an easy walk of several others, and caters to teens and tourists with loose change in their pockets.  The highlights of the mall are its food court (a little larger than most, with breath taking views of the beach and beyond) and adjacent restaurants, a few high-end tourist shops selling local wares of gold, silver, and alpaca wool, and several fashion shops aimed at teens and young adults.  To keep an eye on those teens from the moment they come near the mall, security guards are visibly stationed at the entry and throughout the mall.  Rather than traditional anchor stores, the mall has four “cultural” anchors:  a movie theatre, a restaurant that features a Peruvian dance show, a theater, and a branch of the Museum of Gold (it’s one of those rare instances in which the branch is significantly more impressive than the main location).   During my first, brief visit to Lima in 2008, we visited Larcomar a few times.  During this extended visit, we only visited once.

Plaza San Miguel,  Lima:  A second mall we visited was Plaza San Miguel–a compact, open air, recently remodeled mall in a densely populated lower middle class section of Lima, not too far from the airport.  All of the major local chains had stores there: stylish Chilean department stores Saga Fallabella (which was once Sears in the 1960s, but was sold off years ago) and Ripley, a number of local clothing chains, a small food court, and an outbuilding with a 2-story Bembos, the popular Peruvian hamburger chain whose Choco-Bembo (a soft ice cream cone dipped in chocolate) is among my favorite taste treats on earth.

Jockey Plaza, Lima:  But the mall we visited most regularly—partly because it is closest to where we stayed and partly because it is, without question, the nicest mall in Lima—was Jockey Plaza (so named because it’s next to a race track).  Jockey Plaza had nearly all of the same stores as Plaza San Miguel, but the store sizes were slightly larger, the merchandise selection slightly enhanced and, being enclosed, slightly more comfortable.  For example, both malls had Chilean home retailer Casa y Ideas (kind of like the Crate & Barrel of South America), but the Casa y Ideas at Jockey Plaza was larger and seemed to have a slightly larger selection of merchandise.  Plus Jockey Plaza had additional stores, like an Ace Home Center, the Plaza Vea hypermarket, and a flagship Tommy Hilfiger Store.

I later learned that, because Peru has fewer malls per capita than almost any other country in South America, real estate developers have aggressive plans to build them.

Forum Istanbul:  But we didn’t limit our mall shopping to Lima.  One of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul was a visit to the relatively new Forum Mall, a mall so large that it’s earned not only also its own subway station but also the title of the largest of mall in Europe.  And it’s big enough that I believe it—certainly felt as cavernous as the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall, but a lot warmer in fell in than the Mall of America and not in desperate need of remodeling like the West Edmonton Mall.

Security at the mall was the tightest I saw anywhere in Istanbul; we had to go through a metal detector when we entered the mall.  The corridors were more expansive than those in Jockey Plaza (or any other mall we visited), both in terms of width and height, only adding to the feeling that the mall is huge (as do the presence of an IKEA store and a full-fledged hypermarket).

The mall was relatively empty, not surprising for a Monday night in February, and to entice what little traffic was there, nearly every store had a sale.  And the merchandise was worth exploring; stylish shoes and clothes, housewares, and electronics.  We visited a large furniture store selling Mediterranean chic chests, sofas, and tables.

Among the surprises (besides extensive use of wood, curving lines, and varied ceiling and roof lines to give the place a chic, warm, engaging look) was the lack of a Chinese food stall in the food court (I had always thought that was  prerequisite) and the lack of a traditional department store (what anchors the mall?).

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul:  Forum Istanbul contrasted sharply with the other mall we visited in Istanbul: the Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest indoor malls in the world (though it does not bill itself that way).  A fixture in central Istanbul for over 400 years, the bazaar features hundreds of small shops (maybe 3 by 4 meters) grouped around themes: jewelry, leather, clothing, and so on.  The Bazaar is so huge that many vendors have more than one shop.  I realized this when I saw two that sold antique Judaica and, upon closer inspection, realized both have the same name.

Unlike Forum Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar was teeming with activity all the time.  And, in sharp contrast to the decorum of sticker-based pricing in the Forum, all prices in the Grand Bazaar were negotiable.  In fact, negotiating them is half the fun of being there.

One of the most interesting traditions we observed there was the delivery of afternoon tea.  A young guy would walk around with a tray that contained several glass cups filled with tea, and deliver them to the shopkeepers.  Instead of going out for a coffee break, shopkeepers had their tea break come to them.

Underground Mall at the Louvre, Paris: The only other city where we visited malls was Paris.  We saw two there.  One is the mall underneaeth the glass pyramid underneath the Louve.  The only thing notable about this mall was how un-notable it is.  Take away the choice location—underground next to one of the most visited art museums in the world—and its overpriced washrooms (to be honest, I have a strong belief that people have the right to pee for free)—with a McDonald’s, Virgin Megastore, and similar chain shops, most shoppers would be hard pressed to distinguish this mall from any other mall in the universe.

Quatre Saisons, Paris:  The last mall we visited was the Quatre Saisons (Four Seasons) Mall at La Defense, a new section just off of the island of Paris.  The mall had recently been remodeled.  It lacked the spaciousness of the Forum Istanbul or, for that matter, Jockey Plaza, but we enjoyed it all the same.  Like the Forum Istanbul, this mall had no department store as its anchor.  Instead, it had a two-story hypermarket and a French version of Home Depot as the anchors. The mall was huge and its target demographic seemed to be middle-middle class and some latter day YUPPIES. It featured the classy Paul’s bakery (which I would later learn is a chain and kind of over-priced), a Zara Home store (which we don’t have in North America and, to be honest, was a major let down; I thought the merchandise was a bit fru-fru in look and hi-hi in price), and Muji, the Japanese design chain hawking well-designed, deceptively simple housewares and clothing.  Among my favorite items at Muji are its tiny kits—clear plastic boxes that contain miniature sewing kits, office supply kits, and so on.  The mall also had two Monops (if I remember correctly) and the best looking McDonald’s I’ve ever seen in my life.

One other thing about this mall: it was the only place Parisians can shop on Sundays.  Not all of the stores participate, but it is the first to open on Sundays.

Shopping Districts
Although we didn’t visit shopping malls in other cities, we did visit well-traveled shopping districts, including the area near KaDeWe in Berlin, Gran Via in Madrid, and Bareclona’s Passeig Gracia   Of the districts, the Passeig Gracia was easily our favorite; an exceptionally wide street with Gaudi-designed street lights and benches, and a first-class selection of stores combine to create the type of shopping experience one would expect from a design capital of the world.

On our shopping adventures, we noticed some of the same merchandise but not necessarily at the same prices.  For example, we saw a clock with knives, spoons, and forks in Lima and Paris.  In Lima, the clock cost between 35 and 50 soles ($12 to $17.50) depending on size.  The same clock cost between 26 and 39 euros in France ($39 to $59).

We also encountered brands that we had not noticed in North America, including Camper shoes, Desiqual jeans, and Quick burgers.