The best places to purchase authentic handmade clothing, original artwork, and other locally-made crafts are the 40 cooperatives situated throughout the Northwest Territories. Although goods sold in the Northwest Territories can cost up to 20 percent more than those sold in southern Canada, many of the territory’s artisan goods are literally one of a kind.
Many items made of fur, wool, or leather in the Northwest Territories are adorned with intricate embroidery or beads. Even the custom scarves are uniquely dyed or hand-printed. Visitors to galleries or gift shops can often meet the artists who created the original paintings, prints, or traditional carvings they plan to buy. Retailers are usually equally happy to confirm the handmade goods they sell are authentic and may even point customers towards the artist’s studio or residence.
Visitors can ship bison and muskox steaks, dried or smoked meats and fish, and other tastes of the Northwest Territories back home. Guests from outside Canada should always check with their home countries to make sure they don’t import any illegal gifts as articles containing sealskin or other marine mammal parts are prohibited in some areas.
Yellowknife may be the most unlikely place to find many of the chain stores in many other North American cities of its size, but Yellowknife’s two major shopping malls sell authentic Canadian diamonds to visitors with larger than average bank accounts.