Ha, considering the previous time I wrote about hanging out with my sister was also a story about a shopping trip, (it was at the vintage stores in Kensington market, posted here), you’re going to get the impression that shopping is all we do together!
This is somewhat true in that we do enjoy the experience of spending an afternoon together, hunting and gathering, so to speak, but we also make sure our excursions include a nice lunch, during which we can have a good talk, as well.
Truth is, we are good at shopping together, given we have a lifetime of practice doing it, so we’re good at helping each other out and spotting what the other will like. Also, we are completely honest with one another, ensuring that what we end up buying is just right. In fact, on this particular trip I would have ended up spending good money on a coat that I thought was ok, but that she thought was not as flattering as it could be. I left it behind but if I’d been by myself, I probably would have gotten it, and then never felt quite comfortable wearing it, or having to make a return trip to the store to return it.
For as long as we’ve been shopping together, there’s no question that there is one particular destination that we both love, and that would be The Hudson’s Bay department store, especially the downtown Toronto flagship location. It has recently received a lush makeover so, while many departments have moved causing us to be unable to rely on our memories when looking for something, the transformation is beautiful! Talk about nice fitting rooms … they’re palatial.
The thing about The Bay, aside from having the convenience of departments offering a wide range of high quality merchandise, is that their prices are good, especially since pretty well everything is offered at a sale price regularly. If it’s not on sale when you first see something you want, when you go back the following week, it will likely be so. I used to work near the one at Yonge and Bloor, so I’d do my “window shopping” during my lunch break and buy when what I wanted was on sale. I can’t recall ever missing out on something I wanted doing this.
One time there was a skirt that fit perfectly and there was only the one, so I bought it at full price, but if you purchase something and then it goes on sale the next week, you have seven days from the date you got it to get the sale price, so I did that, putting $25 back into my pocket. All I did was show them my receipt and gave me a gift card credit.
Not to dwell on prices and thriftiness but everything Camille and I got during this shopping trip was on sale, except the make-up I got, but that came with a very nice “gift with purchase” that I had to have.
Of course, we’re not alone in liking The Bay, considering it has survived for centuries, outliving the other competing major Canadian department stores, Eatons and Simpsons Sears, which were forced to close in recent decades.
Hudson’s Bay is Canada’s oldest corporation, having begun in 1670, when Canada was still pretty much a forest, and animal pelts were exchanged for necessities with European traders. One thing they traded for were warm woolen blankets, hence the iconic symbol of Canada, the cream and green, red, yellow and blue striped Hudson’s Bay Blanket. It might surprise you, as it did me, that a blanket that we’ve come to associate with our country has never been made in Canada. Rather, they’ve been, and still are, made in England.
So, this would be a good time to show you an awesome toy we saw, that, oh my goodness, my ten year old self would have loved loved loved to find under the Christmas tree! Check out Barbie in her Hudson’s Bay coat, complete with real tiny toggles, and matching skirt. And her dog has the sweater! And the striped coffee cup … and toque hat … those eye-glasses. Her cellphone even has a striped phone case. (She’s a limited edition, available here if you prefer to shop inline. There are some great photos of her at that link too.)
Another quintessential symbol of Canada is the moose, which is represented in this huge video installation of a life-size animal walking through a birch wood forest, with snow gently falling. If you want to find it, it’s on the main floor, right beside the Top Shop store-within-a-store.
One feature of The Bay downtown that I was unaware of, until Camille filled me in, is their Concierge service, where you can leave your coat. They will also keep your purchases, to which you can add to throughout the day. This means no more over-heating in your big winter coat, with pockets stuffed with scarves, hats and gloves. In my case, it also left me in a sudden panic that I’d mislaid my shopping bag somewhere, more than once, only to be met with a decided sense of relief when I remembered it was safely stowed behind the concierge counter!
It’s safe to say that we hit up every department on the six (?) floors (including menswear, that we won’t talk about here), taking a break for lunch over in the food court of the adjacent Eaton Centre.
Here I am posing awkwardly in the glass tunnel that connects The Bay to The Eaton Centre. Although it looks like I’m dressed completely in black, I was wearing a big red pendant and my shirt has red pinstripes. I say that because I’m trying to get away from so much black all the time.
^ If you’ve been here before, you might recall a dingy, damp tunnel, but it has had a makeover too. Check out the pretty crystal lamps. ^
^ The Eaton Centre – we were the just before they installed Canada’s tallest Christmas tree, standing at 100 feet. It goes from the ground all the way to nearly touching the ceiling. Read about it on BlogTO here. ^
Did you know you can get a beer to enjoy with your meal in the food court? After picking out what you’d like to eat, from their wide range of interesting food stations, you get a table in the designated licensed area and buy your drink at the bar.
It was funny that with so many choices, we both went for the same thing … a falafel salad plate, with a side of pickled beets, (which the server gave my sister at no charge, and which we shared). There’s a flat-bread hidden under there. It was really tasty.
We sat there and talked for a while before heading back across the bridge for more shopping.
^ I just noticed now that someone had adjusted this mannequin’s middle finger! ^
Here’s what I got …
^ A pretty “Cold shoulder” top, flouncy double layer, with sparkly studs on the front, by INC. ^
^ A cozy vintage looking cardigan that will go nicely with my “uniform” of a black tank-top and skinny jeans. ^
^ A long t-shirt by DEX. ^
^ After trying them a couple of years ago, I’ve concluded that HUE make the best leggings ever! Found in the hosiery department, they fit well (being long enough for my 5’9″ height) and are nice and thick. I had the twill pants and knit leggings already, so added a pair of dark denims. After trying them on at my recommendation, my sister got a couple of pairs too. ^
^ The “gift-with-purchase” if you spent $35 at the Lancome counter. Bienfait Multi-Vital Moisturizer with 30 spf, Visionnaire Advanced Skin Correctore, BiFacil Eye Makeup remover, Hypnose Mascara, Eye-shadow palette Color Design Mauve Cherie, Lipstick Color Design Intense Fushcia. I had a choice of a nude or this pink lipstick and I’d selected the nude when my sister and the Lancome rep suggested I go with the coloured one. I’m glad I did, because it’s lovely on. ^
^ The purchase in order to get the gift – Tient Idole Ultra Cushion Foundation, demonstrated in this video with makeup artist Lisa Eldridge. I’d seen cushion foundation discussed on the beauty blogs I follow and thought I’d give this a try. The product is more “full coverage” than I’m used to so I’ve been daubing it with my dampened latex sponge (like a Beauty Blender but a different brand) to absorb some excess. This has left me with a very nice look. In a nutshell, I really like the product, however, the cushion delivery system is lost on me. I think it’s more for people who want to bring foundation with them and touch up during the day. ^
Also, they have a watch and clock repair service on site so brought along a couple of my watches and got new batteries for them.
In addition to the two pairs of Hue leggings, Camille got a nice winter jacket, a tank-top camisole, a sweater and a top.
^ On our way home, a glimpse of Toronto’s old city hall, located across the street from The Bay. ^
Thank you to all those great people we encountered at The Bay for making our shopping day happy and memorable. You’re the best!
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