Is Alberni Street turning into Vancouver's Rodeo Drive?
Paris has the Champs-Élysées, Beverly Hills has Rodeo Drive, and Vancouver has… Alberni Street?
Over time, Vancouver has established its own luxury lane, proving that not only real estate is luring investors, but so is the influx of pricey goods.
Prada, Versace, Rolex, Yves St. Laurent: The who's who of haute couture gather in a tiny enclave of the city's downtown core, where gleaming supercars roll past windows lined with glistening jewels.
"Glamcouver" is filled with the finest fashion money can buy, from crocodile-skin flip flops to belts laced with diamonds.
The sales on Alberni out-class those in much bigger cities in North America, including Toronto.
"Vancouver can hold its own against many of these," Retail Insider editor-in-chief Craig Patterson told CTV News.
"You'll see higher sales than you would in cities like Chicago."
Experts say the majority of big spenders are of Chinese descent, and in many stores, sales staff must speak Cantonese or Mandarin.
"They'll close the store down for that shopper. They'll spend $250,000 in an hour or two," Patterson said.
Retail expert Natalie Tan said the brands are often associated with accomplishments in the corporate world.
"Luxury means success. If I were to present myself to a business meeting with a Mont Blanc pen, with a Chanel purse, then it's almost saying to my clients that you need me as a business person,'" she said.
Alberni is becoming a coveted location for high-end retailers, and there's a growing list of designers who can't find space on the street.
"Everybody wants to be there right now because they don't want to be seen to not be there by the eyeballs that are showing up on the street," DIG360 Consulting expert David Ian Gray said.
It’s no surprise that the cost of rent has also gone up, but on a global scale, it's still affordable to luxury brands, especially when sales on what was once an unassuming road are now in the tens of millions.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's St. John Alexander