Shopping (Kevin Arnold photo)
Shopping options in Nanaimo fall roughly into two categories: downtown boutiques, independent retailers and one-of-a-kind specialty shops; and suburban shopping malls, among them the largest on Vancouver Island.
At the foot of Commercial Street near Terminal Street are several excellent, bargain-packed bookstores packed with thousands of used and remaindered titles. Stylish men's and women's clothing outlets carrying Canadian designers, a marine maps specialty shop and a 6400sq ft/595sq m kitchenware, furniture and jewellery superstore known as Flying Fish are also in the downtown core.
The Commercial Street area is officially tagged the "Arts District" for good reason. Start at Gallery 223, a cooperative space in a heritage building where artists work in a warren of studios on the second floor. Another highlight: Hill's Native Art, which carries masks, totems, talking sticks and Cowichan knit sweaters among other treasures.