Looking at Alberni Street today, it’s hard to image that it was once a retail destination for Japanese tourists. Throughout the eighties and nineties, Trinket stores and duty free shops lined the streets, selling postcards, maple syrup and other Canadian souvenirs to buses of people that visited daily.
While these two blocks still attract Asian shoppers, it’s for a much different reason. Now referred to as the Vancouver’s “mini Rodeo Drive”, luxury retailers and high-end restaurants have made this street home.
In the past three years, Tiffany’s, Hermes, and Louis Vuitton have helped create ‘Luxury Row’, spanning high-end price tags along these two blocks. Burberry, Tory Burch, and De Beers have also opened their doors along with luxury boutiques such as Blubird and Artino. These retailers cater to locals, immigrants and tourists (who, Reuters notes, are mostly from Asia) looking for one-stop luxury shopping.
In addition, fine dining has also helped transform this strip. With Coast, Italian Kitchen, and Black + Blue, the Glowbal Group’s put their stamp on Alberni, attracting office workers and late night crowds at their ornately designed and reputable restaurants. In addition there’s Market, led by three-Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, which is part of the 5-Star luxury hotel, the Shangri-La.
Our city’s demand for the finer things in life has made retailers notice. Outside of New York City, Tiffany’s has recently expanded their store and made our city their second focus in North America. As the second highest street in Canada, Dan Turner, Executive Vice President and Partner at PCI Developments, predicts it will top Toronto’s famous Bloor Street.
Many feel that the Alberni facelift is part of Vancouver’s fashion revolution. With neighbours like Nordstrom and Dior, Alberni may be surrounded with even more good company, as Prada, Gucci and Chanel are also rumored to be coming to street. With Vancouver’s sought-after real estate market demanding high finances to invest, it’s only natural that the luxury retailers will follow suit, catering to our the new highend consumer.