Fear and loathing in Kingsgate Mall

A review of the mall: a different kind of something

By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer

One could be forgiven for not noticing Kingsgate Mall, the hidden gem located in the heart of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of East Vancouver. Nevertheless, Kingsgate Mall stands in its majestic (barely) two stories. This humble shopping centre attracts an unusual variety of customers, considering it’s a mall.

Stepping into Kingsgate Mall is sort of like time-travelling to a semi-decent mall in the 1980s—which is to say, it’s incredibly tiny and irrelevant by the standards of today. There’s a musty smell I notice as soon as I enter—likely a combination of the café hot dogs, imported products, and senior citizens that fill the interior. It’s quite a small establishment, and I can see down the hall from one end of the mall to the other.

But good things come in small packages: over 30 stores offering goods and services manage to fill this tiny space, each quainter than the next. There’s even a second floor, although it’s taken up entirely by a Shoppers Pharmacy and a grocery store. After an extensive self-tour of the mall (which only took about an hour) I was able to pinpoint the best and the worst of the fine shops of Kingsgate.

A BC Liquor Store is situated right by the entrance, and is probably the most popular attraction here by far. It’s often less crowded than a small wine store, especially during prime liquor hours. Not too many malls have a liquor store, especially government-run, and this no doubt attracts customers who would otherwise steer clear of Kingsgate.

Lely’s Books, Etc. is a rather large shop selling an assortment of (what else?) books, and other things. All sorts of toys, games, CDs, video games, and DVDs can also be found here—a dream store for a collector, nerd, or young child. Almost every DVD imaginable can be found in here, often at very cheap prices. It’s definitely an improvement over other stores that sell the same things, and also a good place to find something unique.

Buy-Low Foods is a grocery store that takes up almost the entire second floor. Offering a better and often cheaper selection than many supermarkets, this place is sort of like No Frills but without the year-old yogurt. A place of choice, especially for those who live in the area.

Dollar Land is the coolest, most useful dollar store I’ve ever been in. Although the “dollar” price tag doesn’t apply to every single item, I’ve never found another shop of this type that sold dartboards. It’s huge, and it’s better than most mall dollar stores.

Shoppers Drug Mart is a cornerstone of the mall. Open until midnight, its assortment of home products and snack foods is convenient for shoppers on the go who are passing through the area. For the ladies, it boasts an impressive selection of beauty supplies.

Also for the ladies, Ardene is a new addition to Kingsgate Mall and offers a plethora of on-trend accessories. Even better, the price point is low. Metrotown style at a Kingsgate price!

The less satisfactory stores of Kingsgate don’t need too much description. The most notable of these include Mandarin Photo (presumably only selling mainland Chinese or orange photos), Mirage (for all your velour track suit or individual men’s underwear needs), and Easyhome (an unfortunate layaway furniture company).

Most of the patrons are senior and/or low-income citizens, who treat it as less of a mall and more of a hangout. You won’t find too many teens loitering or buying crap at American Eagle, but you may spot their grandparents playing another round of Keno and munching a hot dog. Indeed, Kingsgate Mall has its own unique charm to fulfill specific needs. Like any mall, there is something for everyone—it’s just a different kind of something.