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Bargain Shopping in Montreal for Backpackers

While high-end boutiques figure prominently in some Montreal neighborhoods, there are entire streets brimming with bargains. It’s usually a good bet to check out the area around colleges, where starving students live.

Books and CD’s

Dawson College is actually attached to the Alexis Nihon mall, where there are several budget chains, such as Winners and Payless Shoes. An open area at the metro level showcases tables piled with books on everything from cooking and gardening to history and politics. Zellers displays racks of discounted DVD’s in the same general area, while bags and scarves are perpetually on sale at the nearby Bijoutree.

Closer to Concordia University, Cheap Thrills  buys and sells used books and CD’s. They even sell tickets to concerts at local clubs.

Saint Denis Street, near the Université de Québec à Montréal, is peppered with bohemian cafés, exotic clothing shops and bargain bookstores, including L'Echange Saint Denis, which buys and sells rare books, cassettes, records and comic books.  Some English books can be found here, as well as at Mona Lisait, where you may be able to forego money altogether,  Depending on what books and CD’s you have to offer, you may be able to barter. The shop is intimate, but the selection is wide and includes beautifully illustrated books on photography and Amerindian art.

Clothing and Footwear

You’ve come to the right place since Montreal has been a hub of the garment trade for many decades. Chabanel Street, north of Jarry Park is a little out of the way and not very attractive, but its factory outlets are open to the public on Saturday mornings, and generally offer low, tax-free prices. Foreign imports abound at 555 Chabanel. Bring cash.

Mont Royal Street is lined with friperies selling retro outfits. Les Folles Allies takes you all the way from flappers to disco, and Boutique Retromania offers carefully-selected used clothes and accessories for all occasions. Aldo shoes also has a liquidation center on this busy street.

Eclectic Saint Laurent Street is crowded with clubs, European delis and thrift shops. Schreter's has an established reputation for deals on durable, classic men’s clothing.  This is a good place to find otherwise expensive items such as winter jackets. Look for budget vintage in mint condition at Friperie Saint Laurent. For clothes with a more theatrical fare, and for fair trade coffee, stop at Eva B’s shop and café. Also on Saint Laurent, Preloved revamps vintage fabrics into new clothes interesting enough to be worn by Ellen Paige in the movie Juno.

Similar transformed treasures can be found at La Gaillarde on Notre Dame Street, the antiquing corridor. The boutique also organizes sewing classes and fashion shows.

For current styles, the Le Chateau warehouse is stuffed with racks of overstock clothes and shoes that usually range from $5 for some tops and shoes to $75 for heavier coats.

Find friendly service and high-profile brands at discount prices at Jeans, jeans, jeans.

The setting is very prosaic but the used clothes are very cheap and very suitable for everyday wear at the Village des Valeurs chain.


The cheapest places for cutting-edge styles are usually at hairdressing schools. Inter Dec College and Tornade (cuts for under $10) are popular. While Pure may not be the cheapest, you can save money by letting one of their Academy students do your hair.

Downtown Studio MW is cheaper on Crazy Tuesdays, if you’re daring enough to give the stylists free rein to experiment.

Travel Gear

Mountain equipment Co-op, the eco-conscious store, allows you to buy and sell used camping equipment.  If you prefer new travel gear, the Canadian Tire chain carries a variety of large and small items for outdoor activities.


For souvenirs that reflect Montreal’s multiculturalism, browse the shops in Chinatown. Try Atwater and Jean Talon markets for uniquely Canadian items, such as locally-produced maple syrup.  For Native art or handicrafts, visit the First Nations Garden gift shop or the Indianica boutique in Old Montreal.

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