Style-savvy residents of the Lower Mainland can finally rejoice, because they won't have to cross the border for designer outlet shopping anymore.
British Columbia's first designer outlet mall celebrated its grand opening today in Richmond, and thousands of people showed up to be the first customers at stores like Coach, Armani, Nike, and Hugo Boss.
Richmond mayor Malcom Brodie, MP Alice Wong, MLA Teresa Wat, Musqueam elder Mary Charles, YVR Airport Authority president Craig Richmond, property general manager Robert Thurlow, and McArthurGlen Development Director Gary Bond each addressed the audience before the ribbon was cut and shoppers were let loose to raid the shelves of more than 30 designer shops.
"We have worked hard to bring Vancouver something unique, something special and new and an exciting way to shop. As soon as we were presented with the opportunity in Vancouver, we knew that it would be perfect for a McArthurGlen designer outlet," said Bond at the opening, who went on to highlight the convenience of the location.
The outlet is the company's first in North America, adding to its list of 20 outlets across Europe. Centered around a luxury piazza and lined with trees and iron street lamps, the outlet is wheelchair accessible, pet-friendly, and fully accessible by public transit, just across the street from the Templeton Canada Line station.
Free Wi-Fi and flight information booths are also features of the new shopping hub.
"After years of planning and construction, here it is. I'm always delighted when you see the drawings come to life and I think you'll all agree this is something special. I'm sure you're all itching to check it out," said Richmond prior to the ribbon cutting.
"At YVR, we're in the business of creating exceptional experiences and we believe this will be part of that."
Richmond also noted that this is just the first phase of the outlet's opening; once the final phase is complete, the mall will be responsible for creating 1,000 new jobs in the city.
"The more you shop today, the faster phase three happens," he said, encouraging shoppers to take advantage of being the first people to step through the gates.
Richmond MP Alice Wong called the outlet a welcome addition to "a world-class aiport in a world-class city", and said that it would help put the city on the map as a luxury shopping destination.
"Not only will travellers shop here, but also locals, keeping Canadian dollars within Canadian businesses... I hope the years ahead will bring great success," said Wong to the audience.
The grand opening continued with a Musqueam welcome dance and and the official unveiling of Michael Yahgulanaas' latest public art piece, SEI, which is located in the centre of the mall. The festivities continue with live music between 1 and 3 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. performance by the Vancouver Orchestral Club.
For more information, visit McArthur Glen Vancouver Airport's website.