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Yesterday saw the opening of McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport, Greater Vancouver’s first designer outlet. Now in its first phase with 50 stores opening their doors, the 240,000-square-foot retail and dining space offers budget-minded shoppers an alternative to cross-border lineups and a less-than-desirable loonie exchange rate.

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The second phase of the designer outlet (clocking in at 135,000 square feet) will be ready in 2017. McArthur Glen has a strong European presence, with outlets in Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Italy, France, UK, Belgium and Greece.

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The outlet’s design is meant to mimic Vancouver’s historic and vibrant Gastown district, marrying brick facades with the city’s traditional architectural style. A specially created sculpture, SEI, was also unveiled at the opening.

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Made of highly polished stainless steel and weighing 3,800 kilograms, SEI is a sculptural example of the hybrid art form internationally-acclaimed visual contemporary artist Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas is known for — Haida Manga. This unique art form blends North Pacific Indigenous iconographies and frame lines with the graphic dynamism of Asian manga.

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While the physical structure is reminiscent of North Pacific Indigenous Arts – in particular that of the Haida Nation – the sculpture is pierced with modernist and contemporary influences.

This stunning artwork is striking, accessible, and serves as a reminder of our surroundings. Yahgulanaas is a local artist whose work has been included in public spaces, museums, galleries and private collections across North America, Europe Asia, Australia and the Middle East.

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From shoes to accessories, kids clothing to sportswear, there’s a good selection of shops filled with discounted merchandise for all budgets and tastes. Vancouverites will instantly recognize brands such as Mavi, The Body Shop, Fossil, Ecco Shoes, Columbia Sportswear, Banana Republic and Polo Ralph Lauren.

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As far as food goes, Bibo Italian Restaurant, Caffè Artigiano, Japadog, The Noodle House and Ryuu Izakaya are currently in place, with local social food marketplace Hawker’s Market opening a pop-up initiative, Hawkers Mercado, over the summer months. And chocoholics will appreciate Zurich’s Lindt choocolatier for a little indulgence.

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I also noticed a couple of food trucks on site, though I’m not sure whether they were there for opening day only or will become a regular presence at the outlet.

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[A GREAT spot for plane-spotting!]

The center is easily accessible via public transport, with Canada Line’s Templeton Station located across the street. After the initial traffic backup across the Arthur Laing bridge, I highly recommend taking Canada Line, even though the outlet contains space for 2,000 cars.

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It takes just over 20 minutes to get here from downtown Vancouver, and three minutes from the airport. Travel between the airport and Templeton Station is free, making it tempting to sneak in a bit of outlet shopping with a long layover!

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Located at 7899 Templeton Station Road in Richmond, McArthur Glen is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 9 pm and Sundays from 10 am to 7 pm. Visit the website for upcoming events, new store openings and special offers throughout the year.

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