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Walk With….Barb Stein

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In her 20 years as Executive Director of the 17th Ave Business Revitalization Zone, Barb Stein has seen lots of changes on the avenue. Check out some of her favourite spots and see what excites her most about the future of 17th.

How would you describe 17th Ave? How have you seen it change over the last 20 years?
I’ve always felt the Avenue is like nature, spring to be specific – new things are always popping up, nestled among the shade of our large strong anchors. Sometimes the seedlings don’t make it (we’ve lost some great retailers), and sometimes the roots hold (we’ve got award-winning restaurants within blocks of big box stores). I’ve seen tremendous change over the past 20 years, especially the evolution of our retail base and the growth of our professional services. It’s all great stuff – we continue to grow and blossom – just like springtime.

Why do you think 17th has remained such a popular destination in this city?
Did I mention our great business base? It comes down to serving the needs of our neighbors and presenting a safe, clean and appealing environment. That’s paramount, as is providing Calgarians with a great experience. We have one of the most diverse demographics in the city, we’re easily accessed by many modes of transportation, and we’re a friendly and fun community.

Describe your perfect day on the avenue?
A perfect day starts early with a coffee and something sweet. I change it up between all of the options on the avenue and my mood. I’d grab a couple of magazines or international newspapers, and stop by a few of my favorite boutiques. There might be a facial and definitely a massage. I’d pick up some wine and cheese for later then grab an afternoon refreshment with pals.

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Where’s your favourite spot to grab a bite?
OK,  that is absolutely not a fair question because I eat at all of the restaurants! But if I had to pick places I’ve been going to forever, it’s Fiore for Tortellini Sasha, the Ship & Anchor for a burger and Caffé Beano for a meatloaf sandwich. Of course I can never pass up risotto balls at Cibo and the tacos at La Vida Loca. But gosh, I eat everywhere and love it all!

Some of your favourite boutiques or places to indulge (spas, salons, etc.)?
I’ve been going to Oasis Spa since it opened. For gifts, I’ve never had to look past Reid’s or Rubaiyat. Calgary Jewellery and Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut have been taking care of my indulgences over the years and I’ve always been a fan of Purple Orchid. Leo Boutique is my go to if I need to know the trends when buying gifts, and I’ve relied heavily on several professionals for my financial planning, insurance needs, and to keep my smile bright!

What excites you most about the future of 17th Ave?
I’m most excited about the continued population growth in the inner city that supports our businesses. In addition to our street-level retail, we’re attracting more and more professional services. This improves our ability to serve Calgarians, as well as provide a great (and walkable) district! In an online world, we’ve managed to sustain our district because we provide an experience. Being on the avenue is a must for many and I’m proud to have helped shape that mindset.

I’m excited too that we’ve built great relationships with City of Calgary, especially Roads, and Community Protective Services. Keeping 17th Ave pedestrian friendly is definitely a joint venture and finally, I’m excited to continue to serve the great people that are our business community. It’s an honor to be associated with Calgary’s Retail & Entertainment District.

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