Ottawa Shopping Tips by johngayton Top 5 Page for this destination
Ottawa Shopping: 82 reviews and 133 photos
The Giant Tiger chain of franchised discount stores extends all over Canada with about a dozen and a half outlets in the National Capital Region alone (those over the river in Gatineau trading under the name Tigre Geant). This is the sort of shop for the basics of life, whether foodstuffs, clothing, housewares, electronics, cosmetics and even a toy department.
They don't stock huge ranges of anything in particular, just a selection of popular items, but the prices are cheap and unlike, say, Mr Edds in Toronto the quality is generally good.
What to buy: They stock a bit of everything and the website will give you an idea of the range available.
What to pay: I've only been in once, looking for a stick blender (for pureeing soups etc.) and found exactly what I was looking for at the princely price of $8. A similar item in one of the specialist kitchenware shops would have have been at least double that!
Address: 98 George Steet, Byward Market.
Directions: On the stretch of George between Dalhousie and Cumberland.
Theme: Discount Store
If it's to do with travel, you'll find it here! Despite the deceptively small frontage the shop has an extensive upper floor with everything imaginable for travel and the outdoors. You can get full-sized tents, all-weather clothing, footwear, compasses and utility tools, even sunglasses. Staff are knowledgeable and friendly and will happily advise the budget conscious, rather than try to upsell. Prices and quality are reasonable and they don't just stock the expensive "Brand Names".
Well worth dropping in.
What to buy: On my one and only visit so far all I needed was a couple of sleeping mats and a pair of sunglasses. The assistant, having ascertained what I was after, didn't bother trying to sell me the expensive self-inflating ones but rather just the basic foam roll-ups. Sun glasses were cheap too, even with the ultra-violet filters.
What to pay: The two mats and the sunglasses came to a total of $67 including tax and they do take foreign credit and debit cards.
Address: 43 York Street, Byward Market
Directions: On the section of York between Byward and Sussex.
Phone: 613 241 8397
Theme: Sporting Goods
LCBO on Rideau Street
In common with most other Canadian provinces Ontario has strict controls over the retail of alcohol. Thus, unlike its neighbour Hull over the river, the only shops that are allowed to sell alcohol in Ottawa are The Beer Store and the LCBO.
The Beer Store, as the name suggests, is only allowed to sell beer and is owned by three Ontario brewers: Labatt, Molson and Sleeman. All other alcohol sales (including beer) are made by the provincial government owned LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores.
The LCBO is effectively a government owned monopoly and sets its own pricing with the profits going directly into local government coffers - $CD 1.2 BILLION in 2006-2007.
However, despite being a monopoly, the LCBO stores do have a good selection of beers, wines, spirits and liqueurs albeit at slightly higher prices than over the river in the relatively deregulated province of Quebec.
Well that's enough background - to find your nearest store the LCBO website has a handy storefinder, as well as product searches and details of special offers.
What to pay: Usually a bit more than over the river!
Address: Various - see website
Phone: 1 800 668 5226
Theme: Food and Drink
Some of the speciality shops on Byward
During the summer months Ottawa's Byward Market is a riot of colour and activity. The outdoor stalls are heaped with an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, the street performers vie with each other for your attention and the bars burst out onto the sidewalks providing the al fresco opportunity to sit and relax and watch it all happen.
On a winter weekday though, when the daytime temperature can be minus 20 (or lower), the only outdoor stall is the maple syrup seller shivering on the corner of Byward and George. The al fresco bar furniture has retreated to its damp and chill storerooms and the buskers have headed to sunnier climes. OK the market becomes a bit less colourful as it goes into semi-hibernation but this doesn't make it any less interesting.
The streets of Byward and York are a haven for the local foodies with a collection of independent retailers covering every type of food imaginable ranging from speciality teas and coffees to fresh fish and organic meats. Freshly baked bread and homemade patisserie are represented, as too are delicatessen goods and cheeses from around the world.
And its not just the foodstuffs that you'll find here but also the means of cooking it, from state-of-the-art kitchen suites (Axiom on Sussex) to tools, gadgets and pots and pans from Domus.
Yep this is the place, winter or summer, to realise all your foodie fantasies.
Website below has a full listing of the shops.
Address: Byward Market, Downtown Ottawa.
Directions: The market area is in the middle of Downtown, bordered by Rideau, Sussex, Cathcart and Cumberland.
Phone: 613 244 4410
Theme: Food and Drink
Entrance on Somerset
Kowloon Market is certainly not a "tourist destination" as such, but rather a locals market serving not just the Chinese population of the Somerset area but also the more discerning Ottawan "foodies", including many of the area's top professional cooks.
Even though it is a relatively small store, compared to the chain supermarkets, the shelves, counters, fridges and freezers abound with all manner of exotic ingredients from throughout Asia, some identifiable and others not, in what at first seems a totally random manner but is in fact all relatively logically laid out. After a couple of visits to get your bearings everything becomes easily findable (even if still totally unidentifiable!).
What to buy: Back home we say that that when the fish is at its best it should still be flapping - here at Kowloon Market it is mostly still swimming with up to 10 varieties of seafood available alive from their tanks along with dozens of others on ice along the fish counter. If fresh fish is your thing this is the place to get it and the helpful fishmongers will do any preparation work that you need.
What to pay: Obviously what you spend depends on what you buy but the fresh fish prices look to be the cheapest around and most of the "exotic" grocery ingredients are substantially cheaper than those from the mainstream supermarkets.
Address: 712 Somerset Street West
Directions: Towards the west end of Somerset West, between Bell and Arthur
Phone: 613 233 1108
Theme: Food and Drink
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