A duo of turn-of-the-century entrepreneurs, Riley and McCormick opened the doors to their first Calgary storefront in 1901—four years before Alberta was established as a province. Their pioneering spirit quickly led to the store’s entrenchment in the annals of local and world history; over the years, the pair crafted military saddles for the Russian cavalry in World War I and supplied equipment to Edward, Prince of Wales, at his famed EP Ranch. The grandchildren of Eneas McCormick picked up right where the founding friends left off, and the family has maintained a presence at every Calgary Stampede dating back to 1912.
Today, those grandchildren continue to leave their mark on the business, expanding the store’s reach but staying true to the traditions that made it such an integral part of the Canadian West. Their selection includes shoes, accessories, and clothing for every member of the family, including wide-brimmed felt and straw hats that protect eyes from the sun’s rays and cows’ grassy spitballs. Let a pair of Canadian-made leather boots do your talking for you, or prepare for a rugged day on the ranch or this year's Stampede (July 5–14) with durable jeans in all cuts and styles.
Casablanca Video, like the Warner Bros. classic for which it was named, has become is a special ritual for local film buffs. The business was opened in 1982 by self-described "fan boy" Jon Lord, who at the time stocked only 150 movies. As the 1980s betamax tapes evolved into 1990s VHS, the shop's vibrant atmosphere and knowledgeable staffers gained the respect of renters. Loyal customers and Jon's commitment to serving up interesting titles from off the beaten path of Hollywood resulted in a rapid expansion. During one stretch, the business doubled in size annually for six straight years thanks to booming membership rolls and constantly self-replicating Ernest videos. Today, Casablanca thrives as a grand buffet catering to all filmic tastes, frequently garnering a top place on Fast Forward Weely magazine's readers' choice list. No fewer than 30,000 titles saturate aisles teeming with new releases, classics, and art-house fare—many available on current platforms such as DVD and Blu-ray as well as bygone movie formats.
Originally operated out of owner Carolyn Breven's home, Pure Jeanius has since blossomed into a fully stocked hub of designer denim, where knowledgeable staffers—dubbed "jeaniologists"—help ensure proper, flattering fits for all body types. They dispense honest opinions, astute advice, and insiders’ knowledge, such as why low-rise jeans are so popular with men building high rises, and help patrons peruse the immense inventory, which brims with more than 1,000 pairs of men's and women's jeans from renowned brands such as True Religion, Hudson, James Jeans, and Fidelity Denim.
As parents navigate the bevy of chic threads, a large TV entertains tots with kid-friendly movies and dissuades them from putting wooden clogs in the pockets of every boot-cut jean. The vast range of denim, which can accommodate women up to size 36 and men up to size 40, shares shelf space with Pure Jeanius' own line of all-natural, house-made essential-oil sprays.
The undergarment experts at She Apparel earned the upscale boutique the honour of Calgary's Best Retail Experience in the 2011 Calgary Choice Awards with the help of their 50 hours of training in proper fitting methods. She Apparel, a winner in the lingerie store category for Calgary Herald's 2012-13 Readers’ Choice Awards, introduces women of all body types to upscale, international lingerie and swimwear, ensuring a proper fit from cup to strap (the boutique's selection encompasses cup sizes A–K and back sizes 30–44). They act as personalized shoppers, presenting customers with corsets, bras, and garters from international brands, and once a woman has been fitted at the store, they save her measurements in a profile. This can be especially helpful for men who want to buy their wife or girlfriend a gift. She Apparel also outfits men in upscale SAXX underwear, crafted from soft Italian fabric that seamlessly forms to the male figure.
Ever since it first opened its doors in 1987, Guitarworks has done everything in its power to keep musical creativity flowing throughout the Calgary area. The display areas brim with electric, acoustic, and bass guitars crafted by renowned producers, including Fender, Gibson, Martin, and more. Whether visitors are just starting out, upgrading to a new model, or adding to their collection, the staff members can help them find the most suitable instrument. As further proof of Guitarworks's dedication to providing truly personalized attention, the shop's guitar teachers offer lessons for all skill and experience levels, customizing the instruction for each student. Factory-authorized technicians are also on hand to provide all manner of repairs by restringing instruments, performing custom restorations, or tuning temperamental air guitars.
Behind 60 feet of storefront windows, visitors to ChromaColour Creative Art Centre's laid-back studio transform the blank surfaces of glass, ceramic, canvas, and even T-shirts into unique pieces of art. Two spacious workshops—one that holds 50 people and one with capacity for 100—invite budding artistes to learn a new mode of expression or hone an old one. In pottery classes, students forge ornamental or utilitarian pieces, decorating with eco-friendly paint that staffers mix themselves in-house. Though formal classes are offered, artists can often waltz in during studio hours, take a seat, and chat with family, friends, or the piece of artwork they're working on.