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Ottawa’s Tried & True Shopping

By Chris Lackner

It takes creativity, adaptability, and perseverance to remain a prominent shopping destination amid ever-shifting changes in taste, trends, and clientele. As the country turns 150, we highlight top shops in the capital that have stood the test of time and have thrived for 20 years or more.

Kaliyana

Photo: Ben Welland

Kaliyana ArtwearSince 1987

Kaliyana Artwear offers innovative clothing for women, with sizes 6 to 22 available. Their contemporary, avant-garde designs are inspired by Japanese minimalism, simple and timeless, and driven by unique cuts, textures, fabrics, colours, and prints. Think unstructured shapes with lots of pockets, asymmetric lines, and layers. Most importantly, think comfort. Also, get footloose with international footwear products, including Arche shoes from France and Trippen from Germany.

515 Sussex Dr., 613-562-3676

Howard Fine JewellersSince 1967

No diamond in the rough, this family-owned store is celebrating its 50th anniversary! For one-third of Canada’s existence, Howard Fine Jewellers & Custom Designers has showcased timeless pieces of jewellery from around the world. Its showroom is home to a wide selection of treasures by Canadian and international designers, including Hearts on Fire, Rolex, Tudor, Tacori, Jack Kelege, Jeff Cooper and Furrer Jacot. Howard also offers custom design work and on-site repairs.

220 Sparks St., 613-238-3300

The Gifted Type

Photo: Ben Welland

The Gifted Type ~ Since 1981

The Gifted Type’s products go well beyond glossy print, with an eclectic collection of cards, novelty items, children’s toys, and other small gifts. Formerly known as Mags + Fags (which first opened in the ByWard Market), they have held court on Elgin Street since 1982 — amid a sea change in tenants and residents. Sister store boogie + birdie is right next door, showcasing rare jewellery (including handmade local designers), bath and body products, fashion items, baby clothes, children’s toys, candles, and Turkish towels. 

The Gifted Type, 254 Elgin St., 613-233-9651; boogie + birdie, 256 Elgin St., 613-232-2473

Snow GooseSince 1963

This purveyor of genuine Aboriginal Canadian fine arts and crafts from the Arctic and Canada’s West Coast has been a fixture on Sparks Street since 1963. You’ll find original works of art, including soapstone carvings and masks, along with a large selection of dreamcatchers, original Inuit prints and carvings, Indigenous jewellery designs, and leather goods.

83 Sparks St., 613-232-2213

Davidson's Jewellers

Photo: Ben Welland

Davidson’s JewellersSince 1939

This Ottawa jewel started to shine when founder Eastman Davidson set up a watch and clock repair shop in the family home before opening a storefront in the Glebe. His daughter Judy carried on the family tradition, and their namesake business moved to its current location in 1964. It continues to specialize in things that are shiny, but it has also crafted a glowing reputation for business ethics, service, and quality — not to mention a penchant for giving back to the community. Shine on, you crazy diamond!

790 Bank St., 613-234-4136

J.D. AdamSince 1988

This colourful, dynamic shop in the Glebe showcases an assortment of high-quality kitchenware and home accessories from over 100 high-quality companies such as Emile Henry, KitchenAid, and Cuisinart. It also carries bakeware, tableware, garden and patio accessories, ceramics, and chef gadgets. Smaller fare — including specialty food items, candles and soaps, bottles, vases, and cookbooks — make this a prime gift destination.

795 Bank St., 613-235-8714

Ma CuisineSince 1996

“Cook with it, serve with it, eat with it, Ma Cuisine has it,” they proclaim. And with good reason. Looking for a genuine Japanese turning vegetable slicer? They have that. A butter knife that absorbs the heat from your hand, making it easier to slice through? They have that too. And good ol’ cookie sheets and roasting pans? Check. Whether conventional cook or culinary mad scientist, you’re shopping in the right place. Ma Cuisine is a kitchen supply store with more than the usual muffin tins and rolling pins.

269 Dalhousie St., 613-789-9225

Manhattan West

Photo: Ben Welland

Manhattan West ~ Since 1992

You can save your travel dollars by visiting Manhattan in Canada’s capital. The same mother-and-daughter team have brought Manhattan to Ottawa for over 20 years, showcasing unique, edgy, and exclusive fashions from around the world. The tradition began at their former market location, Manhattan Marque, and continues at their Westboro shop, Manhattan West. You can travel the world of fashion by visiting this charming boutique, where you’ll find contemporary designs from New York, L.A., Italy, France, Germany, and Denmark. A one-stop shop for everything from casual to business wear, dresses to jeans, and exclusive accessories to stylish footwear.

322 Richmond Rd, 613-695-0517

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’sSince 1977

Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s unique collection of toys is probably the envy of Santa’s elves. Their original location opened in 1977 with the same product focus the local chain has today: well-made, creative toys that spark children’s imagination. They pledge a commitment to toys that meet a high standard for “both play and educational value” and “trusty old favourites that have stood the test of time.” Their classic products are showcased alongside new, innovative playthings. These toys are not only for the young, but also for the young at heart; a visit to Mrs. Tiggy Winkle’s will make adults feel like a kid all over again. Locations include The Glebe, Bayshore Shopping Centre, Rideau Shopping Centre, Place d’Orléans Mall, and Westboro.

809 Bank St., 613-234-3836

The PaperySince 1986

This colourful store in the Glebe has been hosting a non-stop paper party for 30 years. Gift-giving is made easy with The Papery’s array of greeting and holiday cards, artistic giftware, gift wrap, tissue paper (over 50 shades), ribbons, and gift boxes. They even offer a wrapping service. Party plan with napkins and plates and seasonal decor. Life plan with calligraphy supplies, agendas, journals, envelopes, and unique, vibrant colour stock. Plan for fun with colouring books, stickers, recipe books, rubber stamps, and origami to entertain the kids.

850 Bank St., 613-230-1313

Kunstadt Sports

Photo: Ben Welland

Kunstadt SportsSince 1988

Kunstadt Sports started as a small business in Kanata run by a clan of athletes and sports enthusiasts. They even operated out of the family’s home basement! It has grown to three thriving sports-equipment stores spread across Ottawa. Given our wintery capital, it specializes in snow sports, but Kunstadt also covers other seasons with an all-star lineup of equipment — from cycling and tennis gear to running shoes. Servicing for skis, snowboards, racquets, and bikes is available on-site, and Kunstadt even sells their own brands of skis and bikes. Their employees are athletes, too, as Kunstadt commits to employing accomplished skiers, bikers, tennis players, and fitness gurus. Sounds like a game plan for success.

680 Bank St., 613-233-4820; 462 Hazeldean Rd., 613-831-2059; 1583 Bank St., 613-260-0696

Octopus BooksSince 1969

This independent bookstore has multiple tentacles. It specializes in alternative and left-wing contemporary and classic books on subjects including politics, environmentalism, feminism, health and Indigenous studies. Author readings, book launches, and community classroom nights (guest lectures, debates, and more) make this bookstore an event destination. The original location opened in 1969 before moving to the Glebe 20 years ago, and the downtown location opened in 2012.

116 Third Ave., 613-233-2589; 251 Bank St., 613-688-0752

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