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Best Ottawa Shopping

AOL PICK from our Editors
Most shopping enthusiasts in Ottawa head straight to the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive. On the south side of the intersection is the Rideau Centre, home to hundreds of big-name stores, including the only Ottawa locations of some international fashion retailers. To the north of the intersection is Byward Market, a charming jumble of 19th-century buildings, modern condos, courtyards, restaurants and unique shops. From early spring through 
late fall, the farmers market here is a popular attraction. In Centretown, Ottawa's only Holt Renfrew (a high-end department store) is located at 240 Sparks St., a small mall on Sparks Street between Bank and Kent streets. Several neighbourhoods near downtown also merit a shopping trip. Wellington Village is known for its gourmet food shops, while Westboro is home to a concentration of furniture boutiques and sports/outdoor gear stores. The Glebe and Old Ottawa South are good places to browse for unusual or trendy gifts. The biggest suburban malls include St. Laurent Centre just east of downtown, Place d'Orleans in Orleans and Bayshore Shopping Centre in the west end. If big-box shopping is your thing, the power centres nearest downtown are the Trainyards near Riverside Drive and the Queensway, and South Keys at the intersection of Bank Street and Hunt Club Road. The granddaddy of Ottawa's power centres is Centrum in Kanata.

Pom Pom

Neighborhood: The Glebe
Looking for something frilly, sexy, glittery, funky or trendy to spice up your wardrobe? Pom Pom’s your place. If Carrie Bradshaw and her “Sex and the City” girlfriends came to Ottawa, they’d make a beeline here for quirky purses, thigh-high boots, frothy cocktail dresses, flashy jewelry and more—most of it within the budget of the 20-something and 30-something fashionistas who make up the main target market. (It helps if you’re a size 6, too, but don’t despair if you’re more generously proportioned.) Guaranteed to make you smile. Where else in Ottawa could you find a leopard-spotted cowboy hat? A second location is at 250 Greenbank Road in the suburban west end.

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Pom Pom  

Green Light District Design

Neighborhood: ByWard Market
This décor shop may be small and a bit off the beaten path, but every article in it is so lovingly chosen and carefully displayed by husband and wife proprietors David and Deborah Peets that it’s well worth a visit. The distinctive ceramics, textiles, artwork, furniture and lamps come from fair-trade companies around the world, in locations as diverse as Argentina, South Africa and Thailand. Most pieces are hand made and eco-friendly, and just about everything is made of natural materials. Prices are within the budget of many young professionals. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

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Green Light District Design  

Westboro

Neighborhood: Wellington Village
Just west of Wellington Village, this neighborhood has a similar if slightly-more-expensive vibe. You’ll still find lots of great bistros and food shops, but Westboro is known mainly for high-end furniture and décor stores (Distinctively Wood, Beige, Suede, Uproar Design), gift shops (East Wind, Three Wild Women, Bark & Fitz) and sporting goods stores (Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Bushtukah, Trailhead, Ottawa Paddleshack, Lululemon). After a long day of shopping, try the gourmet burgers at the Works or the pizzas at the Newport Restaurant, an Elvis-themed Ottawa institution.

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Westboro  

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's

Neighborhood: The Glebe
In business since 1977, this local toy store chain has been a magnet for generations of kids. After all, the staff encourages prospective purchasers to play with the merchandise before buying. The chain stuffs a huge range of unusual, classic and educational toys and games into relatively small spaces. From Raggedy Ann dolls and Lego sets to build-your-own robot kits and German strategy games, there’s something for just about every age group—including adults. Adults and teenagers may also get a kick out of Mrs. TW’s sister store, Lost Marbles, which sells all sorts of silly stuff you didn’t know you needed: Beatles lunchboxes, chimp-shaped chopsticks, dashboard hula girls, Star Trek drinking glasses and so on. The Bank Street location is the original, but there are now five Tiggy Winkle’s locations and three Lost Marbles shops around town.

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Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's  

Old Ottawa South

Neighborhood: Centretown
Often disparagingly categorized as “Glebe Lite,” Old Ottawa South is a more affordable version of its posh neighbor to the north. Once known as Antiques Alley, the shopping strip along Bank Street has recently changed character. Now, several toy shops and clothing stores focus on expectant mothers and families with young children, while kitchenware boutiques, a cheese shop, a wine bar and a cluster of caterers draw the foodie crowd. (Chef’s Paradise—formerly known as C.A. Paradis—once sold mainly to professional chefs but now offers its high-end small appliances, knives and stemware to mere mortals as well.) There’s also a smattering of New-Agey shops selling crystals, singing bowls and the like.

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Old Ottawa South  

Nicholas Hoare

Neighborhood: ByWard Market
This branch of a small Canadian bookstore chain has the feel of an upper-crust English country house. Perhaps it’s the fireplace, the big windows or the resident cat. More likely, it’s the always-intriguing book selection, which usually includes a wide range of British fiction, biography and histories not widely available elsewhere. Other strengths include books on cooking, architecture, art, religion, current affairs and travel, and a decent children’s book section. You’ll also find a small but clever selection of jazz and classical CDs. It’s a great place to browse on your way to or from the National Gallery of Canada across the street. Very knowledgeable staff, too.

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Nicholas Hoare  

Cube Gallery

Neighborhood: Wellington Village
This airy 2,600-square-foot space, just down the street from the Great Canadian Theatre Company (where Cube owner, artist Don Monet, also curates a small gallery), is big enough to accommodate huge paintings and monumental sculptures, as well as a range of other pieces. Exhibitions change monthly. The focus is squarely on contemporary art, most by artists from the Ottawa area; prices start around $400. The gallery also hosts cultural events ranging from book launches to jazz recitals. Open Tuesday through Sunday, as well as Mondays by appointment.

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Cube Gallery  

Workshop

Neighborhood: ByWard Market
Part of an ever-evolving cluster of small, independent fashion boutiques on the north end of Dalhousie Street, Workshop proudly promotes local designers. With its shiny wood floors, big windows, red walls, white fixtures and sleek antiques, it’s both feminine and trendy. Look for hand-made jewelry from the owners’ Wine on Sundays and Loot by Stina B lines; many pieces have a vintage twist. In addition to a wide range of clothing and accessories—everything from T-shirts to party dresses—you’ll find a small selection of gifts and home décor items, almost all at prices recent college graduates could manage. Workshop also runs classes in knitting, jewelry making and other crafty arts.

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Workshop  

Jacobson's

Neighborhood: New Edinburgh/Rockcliffe Park
If you’re hungry when you get here, it’s almost certain you’ll be ravenous when you leave, as this supremely elegant gourmet food shop always seems to smell like fresh bread. (If they have any loaves from Ottawa’s Art-Is-In bakery, snap them up for a memorable picnic.) Jacobson’s is on the edge of Rockcliffe, so don’t be surprised to find goodies like fruit cordials from England, $50 bottles of balsamic vinegar, panettone imported from Tuscany, and Duchy Originals shortbread cookies made under the auspices of the Prince of Wales. The store’s owners troll Canada and the world for cheeses, sauces, chocolates, jams and more, as well as table linens, crockery and kitchen utensils. Be ready to linger—and to spend.

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Jacobson's  

Manotick

Neighborhood: Centretown
No individual store in this growing village on Ottawa’s southern edge is worth the half-hour drive from downtown. But together, the appealing collection of gift shops, clothing stores, bakeries and décor boutiques makes it a pleasant destination for a day trip. (It doesn’t hurt that Manotick is also home to a photogenic 19th-century gristmill and several decent restaurants, like the Black Dog Bistro.) Try Just Imagine for décor items, Simple Pleasures for kitchenware and chocolates, the Gingerbread Man for cookies and pastries, and Lindsay & McCaffrey for upscale casual clothes.

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Manotick  
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