Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hip Getaways - Shopping Trip to Buffalo, NY

We know that HUGs like to shop and shop well.  We have mapped out a rough guide to a fun shopping trip over the border to Buffalo, NY.  The dollar is practically at par, the weather is gorgeous, so round-up your girlfriends and plan a day trip!  Our pick is straight across the border and directly to Walden Galleria Mall, where it recently underwent a major renovation.  The mall itself is full of 'A' level stores and is a two hour drive from Downtown Toronto.

Border Crossing - Bring your passport and cross at The Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls.  The wait time here is generally the shortest of all the bridges because GPS maps, Mapquest and Google Maps sends everyone over to the Queenston Lewiston bridge.  No joke.  You could wait up to 30 minutes to cross both ways.  At the Rainbow Bridge, we have never waited more than 10 minutes.  Make sure you have some change handy for tolls, they do take Canadian money.

Shopping Strategy #1 - I like to shop stores that you cannot find in Canada.  It makes for a more efficient shop and you are less likely to burnout from shopping fatigue.  The goal is to find stuff there that you can't get here.  Key clothing stores that exist in the US that hip & urban girls might be like include:
  • Victoria's Secret - Their 5/$25 underwear special never fails me
  • Macy's - Department store finds with mid-range prices
  • Lord & Taylor - Higher end department store
  • Charlotte Russe - It's like H&M's younger more urban cousin
  • TJ Maxx - The same as Winners with lots of good deals if you are willing to dig
  • Express - Mix of career and casual
  • Delia's - Younger teen selection, but good cheap jeans
  • J. Crew - Preppy, flirty clothing.  Great swimwear and sundresses
  • The Limited - Casual and workwear
  • Pacific Sunwear - Cute bikinis, skate clothing, shorts, t-shirts
Shopping Strategy #2 - Hit stores that are notoriously cheaper in the US then in Canada.  Major price differences we have seen were at Urban Outfitters, Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma.  The other biggest savings when shopping in the US...shoes!  They are generally 30-40% cheaper across the border and there is usually a huge selection.  If you are big on shoes, make sure you add Designer Shoe Wareshouse to your list of stops.
Sales Tax - The sales tax in Buffalo is 8.75%.  If you are out of Canada for less than 24 hours, you do have to declare what you buy and pay the applicable Canadian and Provincial taxes on your purchases.  If you do not declare what you buy and they find out, customs does have a right to confiscate those purchases...so just be aware.
Target - Call it Tar-jay if you want to get all fancy, but Target deserves its own little blurb.  It is a discount chain that I would say is like a designer Wal-Mart.  You can check out food that they don't sell in Canada and certain brands of make-up you can't get here such as Neutrogena, Sonia Kashuk Soap & Glory and Jemma Kidd.  Target also has a great selection of swimwear, t-shirts, tank tops and casual clothing.  We are big fans of the Mossimo line and the capsule collections launched by big name designers like Jean Paul Gaultier.  The home decor section is also really good with cheap accessories that actually look good!  The softest, most luxurious towels I have ever found were $10 from Thomas O'Brien for Target.  I have found socks for $1 and tees and tanks for under $10.
Where to Eat - When you've spent all your money and are hungry check out The Cheesecake Factory (our post here) for a huge menu that could please everyone.  Save room for dessert because they carry over 50 different types of cake and cheesecake.  The portions are huge and easy to share.  PF Chang's is new and recently opened at Walden Galleria.  I haven't been yet, but it seems to be a very popular chain for non-fast food Chinese food in the US.  Panera Bread is also a favourite for a casual soup and sandwich.  They have great combos for under $10 and their bread is divine.  Olive Garden for the all-you-can-eat breadsticks and salad is a wayback throwback for when they used to exist in Canada.
So who has some other good shopping & store suggestions for us?  Where are the good outlets and who knows where the other good deals are?


  1. The Olive Garden and Red Robin are great places to grab a bite to eat as well. If you plan to go to Olive Garden close to Walden Galleria, prepare for a wait unless you call ahead and make a reservation. Red Robin is such a great family restaurant, be sure to join their mailing list on their website to be kept up to date with current promotions.

  2. PF Chang's is definitely a must-do! Be sure to try their Key Lime Martini, it is amazing! They have a Prix Fixe meal for 2 which includes Appetizers, Soup, 2 main courses with rice and then your choice of desserts. 2 of us have never been able to finish it, so it would be great for 3 or even 4 girlfriends to share!

  3. Ok, you've totally convinced me into PF Chang's! I have to check out the Red Robin menu and see what they are doing. I also heard that Ruby Tuesday's re-did their menu and went a little bit more high-end. They actually got a whole write-up in the NY Times for their transformation. Anyone go lately?

  4. The only other place that is a must is the cheese cake factory. I hear they have incredible food as well as (what else) cheesecake. :D
    I think they're located close to PF.Chang's.

  5. Which Target location do you recommend?

  6. I like the one closest to the Niagara outlets, not Walden Galleria location (always cleared out).

  7. Where would you recommend Mother/daughter stay to have comfort, feel treated but be close to Walden Galleria? Not overly expensive