Kingsgate Mall has been called wonderful, but also weird. Charming, but also creepy. It’s been advertised as “Vancouver’s secret retail jewel,” but also, by one Yelp reviewer, “1990s depression recast as a mall.”
Kingsgate has become a Vancouver landmark over the years. Some bus drivers of the 99 B-Line even like to announce its presence to riders. Local artists and musicians have used it in their works.
If you’re new to the city, you might wonder why a humble mall — with a Buy-Low Foods, a Shoppers Drug Mart, a Payless Shoes, a barber and a florist — attained local stardom.
Perhaps it’s surprises like the Bitcoin machine or the kiosk that sells lobster products. Perhaps it’s the nostalgic retro trappings, like the Noah’s Ark you can ride for a dollar or the hand-painted mural of hill country by the washrooms.
“And I thought West Edmonton Mall was amazing,” wrote one reviewer on Facebook. “This place has defied physics and made time stand still.”
It’s not completely inaccurate. The neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant is ever changing, with rising rents and longtime businesses closing. A sleek tower, the Independent, is going up across the street. Kingsgate, built in 1974, is living testament of an older Vancouver.
Amid the change, an unofficial Twitter account popped up in 2013 to archive mall happenings and deals. Tongue-in-cheek, @kingsgatemall tweeted urgent calls to buy velour tracksuits, expiring ground beef and giant $200 ceramic Santa heads.
The account was amusing to many — with about 8,000 followers — but the young woman behind it takes gentrification in Mount Pleasant personally. Because while many insist that time stands still at Kingsgate, its days may be numbered if development has its way.
Read full story at the Vancouver Courier here.