Urban Outfitters. Love it or hate it?

Urban Outfitters
Nearly a decade ago, RBC’s downtown fortress was situated just up from the corner of Princess and Montreal. When it relocated in the late 1990’s, no business moved in to take it’s place, leaving a huge void on the same block that houses umpteen downtown businesses, a cinema and the Grand Theatre. Fast forward to the end of January ’08, where US “all things cool” retailer, Urban Outfitters, announces that they’ve leased the space, and will open their doors this Spring. How much do we really know about this peddler of foreign merchandise, and what could its presence do to the downtown?

Urban Outfitters is the ultimate store for trendy fashion, furniture and other things you did not know you needed ranging from The Marijuana Chef’s Cookbook, to the neon-coloured plastic Buddha banks and $200 ripped denim. With over 115 locations around the world, their nearest outlet to Kingston is located on Yonge Street in Toronto, and for many Kingstonians, this is close enough. Our downtown has already been invaded by the likes of the Gap, and American Apparel, while the presence of another large foreign retailer could detract from the quaint, locally owned atmosphere of the downtown core. Regardless of the chain’s claim that they will integrate the look and feel of the store with the surrounding environment, the fact remains that Urban Outfitters could squeeze out the competition. The store has already relocated a number of pan handlers, who used to congregate under the front entranceway.

On the other hand, perhaps the store could serve to draw crowds away from the Cataraqui Town Centre, and big box outlets in the east end. This would in turn benefit other downtown retailers, who would enjoy the increased foot traffic. But getting back to merchandise, does Kingston really need an overpriced thrift store, that tries too hard with it’s ironically trendy and seemingly monotonous product line? While the average UO shopper is bound to be Liberal, it seems as though the founding father, Richard Hayne, makes financial contributions to US Republican Senator Rick Santorum. That’s not the sort of guy I want my purchases supporting, further only time will tell whether or not this mega-chain will be helpful or hurtful to the local shopping scene.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

7 thoughts on “Urban Outfitters. Love it or hate it?

  • They’re not putting it in for Kingstonians though, it’s for the students. They eat that over-priced trendy stuff right up!

  • Nothing is worse than a vacant downtown core.

    Love it or hate it, Urban Outfitters is a big step up from an empty building. Helps keep the $$ downtown, and the street looking busy. You can’t beat that, can you?

  • I agree with Nicole, above. That large, vacant cement block building has been a blight for many years. I’m happy to see the revitalization, even if it is from a cookie-cutter mega-retailer. Whether or not I will shop there will depend on the ethics of the company, about which I currently know very little.
    At least it isn’t another wall mart or canadian tire!!

  • It looks as though Anthropologie is moving in there, not Urban Outfitters. Both are owned by URBN inc. but are completely different stores. This would be Canada’s first Anthropologie store.

  • P.S. Get excited Queen’s girls. They’re here to see you. Well not so much you but your parents wallets.

  • Being the beleaguered husband of a female…and the father of another female, just what I needed to see was another place to get dragged to when the “I need to do a little shopping, but we shouldn’t be too long” bug hits the women of my clan. Alas….just call me pack-mule. I think what we really need is another good steak-house…:)

  • Ordinarily, I would totally be against a store like this opening in downtown Kingston. However, there is one line in this story that has changed my mind:

    “The store has already relocated a number of pan handlers, who used to congregate under the front entranceway.”

    Welcome to Kingston, Urban Outfitters!

    Wish we could get the panhandlers to move out to the west end stores.

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