14.9.11

CAN OTTAWA HANDLE AN H&M?

H&M store Las Vegas
On my last trip to Las Vegas, while visiting some of the huge shopping centers on the strip I discovered the H&M at the Forum Shops (shown above). My first thought was : "WOW". The design and decor of the space was spectacular!

H&M store Las Vegas
Look at the size of the shoppers at the bottom compared to the height of the ceiling. This place is probably 40 ft high. This looks like it was designed to inspire and entertain shoppers and make shopping fun. A lot of care and attention was put into creating an exciting experience with music, colorful LED lights, suspended mannequins and shiny balls. I bet the people who designed the store had a lot of fun in creating this display. But these photos don't do it justice. Luckily I found a video on YouTube to paint a better picture :



Seeing and experiencing this store made me think of Ottawa. More specifically, the fact that many people here would love to have an H&M in Ottawa.  If you Google it you'll find many people talking about it as shown here, here, and here. There's even a Facebook group called Bring H&M to Ottawa. Still despite the fact that there are currently 56 H&Ms in Canada, including 9 in the Montreal region, there are none in Ottawa. Why is that? Could it be that Ottawa is just not ready for an H&M? 

I often hear people going on shopping trips to Toronto, Montreal and even New York to find stylish items. I do it too. The last time I went on a shopping spree was on my last trip to Montreal earlier this summer. I think the problem is the "best" Ottawa has to offer in terms of trendy shopping downtown is probably the Rideau Centre. And compared to a lot of fashion forward cities, it's not impressive nor inspiring. And the bridge it such an eyesore.
rideau centre shopping fashionless ottawa

I wrote a post last year about how Sparks street could use a little help becoming more fashionable. A commenter said, maybe if H&M would come first, it would help revive the area. But this made me think, maybe one of the reasons why they are not in Ottawa is because it's unappealing in the first place.  Ideally if they came to Ottawa it should be downtown, but where? And who or what would be around them? If Sparks street was better maintained, it could be a great place to shop. But this street is far from looking like a high fashion district. Most of the occupants offer nothing for passerbys to look at. Window shopping is non existent. It's kind of depressing if you ask me. Instead of waiting for H&M to become the anchor, perhaps Ottawa needs a makeover to become more visually appealing. We are talking about fashion here. It has to look good! 
Spark street mall shopping fashionless ottawa

Here's a collection of photos of some H&M stores around the world. Where would a building of the same caliber fit in Ottawa? 
H&M store Tokyo Japan
H&M store Barcelona Spain\
H&M store Seoul Korea\
H&M store Harajuku Japan

H&M store New York USA

H&M store Montreal Canada

 Photos : 1234 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12


24 comments:

  1. I've always thought the old Bank of Montreal building at Wellington and O'Connor would be perfect for a club, restaurant, or flashy retail.

    It's fairly large, has high ceilings and last I heard was being used as storage by our friends at the NCC.

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  2. There's a large, fairly old building on Rideau across the street from where the new UO is located. I think it would be a perfect spot for H&M (similar to the location at Ste. Catherine and Peel in Montreal). The building is too large for an H&M alone, but I wonder how possible it would be to use the front and a few floors to come up with something great. It certainly flows with the "new Rideau" and recent additions of UO and F21.

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  3. I worked in Zurich for a while and the H&M's there are housed in older building, fitting in seamlessly with the surroundings. I always thought that H&M is exactly what Sparks Street needs as well. And it is one of those stores that will be busy wherever it is located. As you say, Ottawa definitely lacks choice when it comes to fashion.

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  4. Rideau Centre is So Ugly and I wish Sparks got it together! Maybe a street in the market can step up?

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  5. @Auxonic : NCC is using the BMO building for storage ? o_O. Please say it ain't so. The large windows above could work to display large posters. I'm not sure about the main floor as it is right now. But a glass addition to preserve the frontage while being able to showcase their product might work.

    @TheJMay : Yes, the Ogilvy building could work. I wrote an article about this building last year. It could the other portion could lofts. (real lofts) But again, building maintenance seem to be an issue and it looks like except for the facade, the building is scheduled to be demolished.

    @caroline : Agreed :)

    @ginger: I think the market might be too small for H&M. Something on Bank street maybe... but Bank street also has a long way to go.

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  6. Ottawa is a total bottom dweller when it comes to anything fashionable, including clothing and home decor. We have NO decent stores here and no good places to shop. I wish the city would stop building congested cookie-cutter developments on every little piece of green space, and focus instead on bringing some cool shops and architecture to Ottawa. We can dream.....

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  7. I think the Ogilvie building could work. I don't find the H&M at Eaton Centre in T.O.to be that impressive so the Ogilvie building could work. Even if they only preserve the facade it would have character. The probelm with Sparks Street is they've built it for tourists and not residents (and tourists who aren't baby boomers don't seem to like it). Ottawa residents have no reason to go there.

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  8. @Kelly : I learned from Urbsite that some streets like Kent use to have more trees but for some reason the city decided to maximize streets, minimize sidewalks and eliminate trees. A lot of parties need to change they way for sure.

    @Kevin: True, although if/when the ReHotel Condo gets built on Sparks st, there will be more resident closer. I think younger tourists and local residents don't go to Sparks 'cause it's depressing. If it's more fun. They will come. There's a lot of tourist on Ste-Catherine in Montreal all the time. Shopping can also be part of being on vacation :)

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  9. H&M might be kind of stylish, but the clothes are generally garbage. And of course Ottawa is 'ready' for an H&M... there's one in Red Deer, after all. It's just unlikely to go into a stand-alone building, but rather an empty space in one of the shopping malls.

    Forever 21 is a good addition to the Rideau Centre, and the glass wall/entrance facing Rideau is much better than the concrete wall that was there before. Too bad Shoppers probably isn't looking to move out - H+M could work in that space quite well...

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  10. If you know and acknowledge that there are H&Ms in Canada already, why do you ignore the fact that there are H&Ms in far more horrible locations than Ottawa? Have you seen the one in Bramalea Town Centre? It's in as ugly a mall as I've ever seen, and the H&M itself is tiny. Hell, even Peterborough has an H&M. It's not like every H&M in the world is some beautiful work of art; you've just picked out the most glaring examples of that. By that logic, there's no way we should have an Apple store either. When they find a space that suits them at the price they want, they'll put one there.

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  11. But the ugly ones should not be used as a benchmark for a potential future store in Ottawa. We should take examples from the nice ones, the ones that enhance a city.

    Ottawa is the capital of one of the most respected countries in the world. It's inevitable that it will be compared to cities from around the world. Therefore Ottawa should not settle for average. Ottawa should demand above average.

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  12. The title of your thesis was "Is Ottawa ready for an H&M?" -- clearly the answer is yes.

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  13. Ottawa is so suck!! NCC and City Hall don't give a damn about fashion and trends they only care about their museums and to be home before 6pm!!

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  14. The only best thing of Ottawa is that Montreal is not too far for shopping!! The only way I can dress in a decent manner!

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  15. An H&M would have been great where the Urban Outfitters is right now. They could build it in the middle of a field and I would still go.

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  16. Perhaps now that there's a Forever 21 and an Urban Outfitters in the area the chances for and H&M have gone up. They make the area a little better in my opinion, but there's still quite a bit of work to do before it becomes a fashion destination

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  17. I am so glad that Sears at the Rideau Centre will be closing this coming October. This makes room for H&M. Finally!!! No more excuses of not enough space. They can take over a whole floor.

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  18. I'm originally from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, and they still don't have an H&M there either. I was ecstatic when I found out that one will be opening at Bayshore, by the time the Zellers becomes Target in 2013. I was surprised to find locations here in Ontario in Cambridge, Waterloo and Peterborough, and in Atlantic Canada in Halifax (actually, Dartmouth) and Moncton.

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  19. I'm leaving the GTA for a city without H&M?!? It's not even an up-scale brand, I thought it'd be a given at any middle-sized mall:\ Seriously starting to regret coming to Ottawa to study.

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    Replies
    1. Unfortunately Ottawa seems to be a couple years behind when it comes to things like this

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  20. Its quite obivious that you are not from the Ottawa area, Spark Street is not intended to be a street of high fashion forward place to go do shopping here in Ottawa. I you are right it could likely us a facelift but keep in mind this a historical site part of the downtown core. Finding suitable space for H&M in Ottawa is the issue, not an issue of Ottawa not being ready for it or not.

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    1. Yes. I mentioned many times before that I'm originally from Montreal. Not that it should matter. What matters is what's going on right now on Spark street.

      Becoming a more youthful vibrant area, if planned intelligently and carefully, can actually help preserve the history of Spark Street and revive it. But Ottawa has to be ready to put the effort into not only refurbishing the area but also maintaining it. Make it attractive again so that more people would want to take the time to walk and stop by the various store. Having a store like a H&M in the area can help with that.

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