Gotta Catch A Mall

One of the joys of overseas travel is shopping malls.

No, really.

The great thing about a mall is that it is a microcosm of retailers.

It contains, for example, a bunch of global retailers that I despise at home, all conveniently collected for me to ignore in one spot.

It also contains local chains and one-offs. and can be quite interesting, particularly if you’ve set yourself  a vague mission, such as “Let’s buy such-and-such as a small gift for whatsername” *

And so, Lady Devotea and I sallied forth to Oakridge Centre, a shopping Mall in Southish Vancouver.

It DID have the ignorable multinationals. It had a Davids Tea, which we don’t care for and walked past. It also had a Lego store, which was fascinating, as it was populated by 20-somethings who can’t stop playing with Lego, even when working. One told us of the ‘Dark Ages’ when he was a teen and stopped building things from the the little bricks every day, only to return to the fold a few years later.

They has some amazing things, such a Disney Castle box that contained over 12000 bricks, cost a week’s wages and would take a month to put together. They had every vehicle imaginable, the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, and my favourite, a Mini Cooper. I briefly considered sharing my fantastic idea for a new series –  A Lego “Gentleman’s Club” called “Bricktease” – but there were many children about so I let it pass.

They had a food court, of course, and being Canada it had the compulsory A&W, which I love because I love their drinks. I always find food courts bizarre, because the biggest lines are at the McDonalds and KFC, serving the same offal they serve everywhere; while one-off family owned places selling delicious food look sad. We had already eaten, however, so I simply had a sesame bubble tea from “Little Tea House”. Delicious!

We did the rounds twice, bought a few things and whiled some pleasant hours. The mall was the typical configuration, and on one side had a tiny side leg that appeared to have not much in it. However, when it was time to go, it seemed the shortest route to outside.

And I’m glad we took it, because right at the end before daylight was Murchies.

Murchies, it turns out, is a BC institution, a tea and coffee store that’s been around since 1894.

They had plenty of tea, teaware, all the time in the world to chat and huge tins of tea; some blends, some single origin.

Actually, their range and tastes were a lot like ours, so we felt right at home. After some drinking, some sniffing of tins (quite a lot), some chatter, learning of their afternoon tea enterprise at one of our next stops and quite a lot more chatter we left with a paper bag containing:

  • A gift for the dragon-in -law
  • A gift for ourselves ( a nice little strainer)
  • Rideau Hall ( A blend that is vaguely a breakfast tea)
  • Queen Victoria ( a blend where a couple of standard black teas are augmented with a touch of Lapsang Souching and some Jasmine) which was our best pickup
  • Traditional Chai which is a masala chai with a hint of vanilla.

A fine visit which has kept our travelling teapot full in the days since and offers the promise that we will run into another branch at some point and have even more fun.

As I said a few posts back, reports of the death of malls are greatly exaggerated. Sure, they need to adjust and find new ways of doing business, but they remain a great way to learn a lot about a place in a few hours.

Note: I wrote this two weeks ago and inexplicably failed to post it!

 


*Name and gift changed to protect the surprise. Not that we found it.

Robert Godden

Certified Tea Nutter. Blender. Author of "The Infusiast" and Tea "Stories"

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