Brand free or Bland? Qualicum Beach vs Coombs Shopping

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With the exception of banks, pharmacies and gas stations, Qualicum Beach is fairly brand free. This does not mean that there’s no shopping. There’s a lot of knick-knack, clothing stores, independent coffee shops like Bailey’s and perhaps the last video store in existence called Catacombs Video. A partial list is here: www.qualicumbeachdowntown.ca/p/shop.html

We did find an antique store that had everything. Good quality antique glassware (it may be a rustic shop, but he knows his stuff) along with old LPs, some comic books and memorabilia from the 50s and 60s. There’s enough stuff to fill a man cave / basement wet bar to give that un-classy sports bar feel.

But, despite the seaside beauty down the road and the mountains to the west – which had a hint of snow at the top – the architecture seemed bland.

So, we next drove to Coombs, 8 km away and were confronted with what I can only call Bohemian Eclectic architecture and shopping. The Coombs Country Market has a grass roof on which goats graze. Roofers of the world beware when you get that maintenance call.

Next to the Coombs Market is a plaza with granite sculptures on which children climb and about which parents fret. There’s a used book store, with decent variety, and Coombs Emporium. Ostensibly it’s where you go for ice cream, but inside there are some of the largest wood sculptures featuring supine, busty, almost life size, and basically nude women — right beside the carved Buddhas. No shop like this was ever in Qualicum Beach. The carvings had the women’s legs and/or hair merge with tree roots or become mermaid legs. I dearly wanted to take a couple of pictures, but there were a lot of signs saying no photography. To me had I obtained all the memorabilia from the antique shop and one of these carvings would have made for a truly tasteless man cave.

And … never was there a greater contrast in non branded shopping less than 15 minutes apart.

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