I wandered around a weird little mall today. At noon, only half the places were open, and I feel like 40% of the stores weren’t stores but galleries. One place was selling laminated onto woodblock Tintin covers for $12. And there was a Japanese dollar-store, where I’m completely going to buy any bowls if I need them. Everything put me on edge, but in a very different way than malls usually do. I guess there must be more “normal” kinds of malls around, but I haven’t seen any.
It’s a different city this Vancouver, with its individualized stores. It’s weird when I feel Mountain Equipment Co-op is the Evil Empire of corporations. But seriously, on my routes I’m travelling (to school and downtown) the chain places feel a lot less in ascendancy here (so the large MEC with its rooftop parking lot seems monstrous). I mean, yes, there are loads of Starbucks, but Tim’s isn’t saturating the rest of the intersections. I’ve seen one Chapters but loads of smaller bookshops (some used, some just specialized into mysteries or science fiction). The only Home Depot I’ve seen is down by the railway yard, practically under a bridge, like some unsightly uncle.
I’m not saying this is bad. It’s actually pretty awesome. But I feel like Holly must have about Winnipeg before I took her on the drive through development hell. It’s the kind of city I want to live in, with lots of independent stuff going on along with the icons of familiarity. But. I keep on waiting for the terror of big boxes to appear around every corner. I don’t know where this city has stashed them, and the suspense is getting to me.