High Street goes Bazaar–Ste Catherine Sidewalk Sale

One of the things I love about Montreal is the “Vente de Trottoir”, which is when all the shops on a street get together and put on a street bazaar. And Montrealers do it with gusto! The road is closed, almost every shop gamely puts out a stall with discounted wares, ranging from kitchen tools to lingerie. Musicians put on a show at every corner, and for that weekend, the street is packed with families, young and old, enjoying a day of bargain-hunting and the odd bit of haggling.

Today we went to the sidewalk sale on Ste Catherine, which will run between St Marc and Bleury for 16 and 17 Jul. Ste Catherine is the high street of Montreal, where you can find most of the big chain retailers so we didn’t know if they were going to make the effort to put anything out.

Verdict: It was a gorgeous sunny day for a walk and we saw some nice performances. But overall, the sale was just average. A lot of the clothes and shoes we saw were only marked down 30% to 50% as compared to the sidewalk sales in the Plateau where most things went for a irresistably flat price, typically $5 to $10. And there was a fair bit of overpricing too– anyone wants to pay twenty bucks for a watch worth five?

As expected, the indie and smaller brands put on the best show with the most spirit, while the bigger retailers were half-hearted. Forever 21, Chapters and HMV put on pathetically small displays. H&M and Urban Outfitters belong in a hall of shame for not even setting up a stall. However, commendations go out to Aldo, Arcteryx, Guess and Champs for putting up a pretty good show, and actually putting out nice things at a good discount. Props too, to the Louis Vuitton store, which did not stoop to set up a street stall (that’ll be the day!) but participated in l’esprit and engaged bagpipers and made things festive.

Highlights include this nice get-together of vintage car collectors between MacKay and Bishop. There were all kinds of beautifully maintained old cars: Chryslers, Cadillacs, you name it, all on display. People could walk up to them and take photos with them. Pretty cool.

The music entertainment was pretty cool and my favourite was this super cool group of Zurumba drummers whom you could tell were just rocking out. Gimme some of that kool-aid!

Rue Crescent also had its side street closed for the weekend (they have so many parties on that street I don’t know why they don’t just permanently close the road) for the usual bout of outdoor drinking and live shows.

The turnout was great, and even if you don’t buy anything, it’s still a really nice atmosphere, a fun trawl, and a chance to stroll down the middle of Ste Catherine at your leisure.

But buy something I did! Champs put out some nice trainers, helpfully sorted out by price (so thoughtful!), and I picked up this nice pair of Asics with gel cushioning for $56 (post-taxes), which is not too bad a price for good running shoes.

So oh yes, I came home a happy shopper đŸ˜‰

If you’re interested in upcoming sidewalk sales, you can check out out this list here, which is kept updated.

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