The Old Strathcona Antique Mall, one of Edmonton’s “best kept secrets” for local treasure-hunters, is welcoming a new kind of race next week.
Tuesday’s episode of the Amazing Race Canada will feature contestants hunting for an item throughout the mall’s aisles to make it to the next round of the cross-country competition.
Betty Reitan, who co-owns the mall with her daughter Bobbi Weibel, couldn’t say yes fast enough when the producers called in January to ask if the show could film there in the spring.
“I was like, ‘How do I just say ‘yes?’ Yes, we’d love to have you!” said Reitan at the mall on Thursday. “This is our opportunity for national television, how many small local businesses get that chance?”
The whole thing had to be kept secret from staff and the owners’ loved ones, Reitan said. They even extended the mall’s annual garden show to ensure the location looked the same across both days of filming.
But far from being bulls in a china shop, the contestants didn’t break a thing as they raced through the store throughout a whole day in April. Reitan thinks the location was chosen for its towering assortment of vintage finds — some might even compare it to Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement.
“It would be very difficult to find a specific item in here, so if you’re on some sort of a scavenger hunt, this is the place to come,” said Reitan, “because you’ll find it, but it’ll take you a while.”
Reitan hopes the episode will encourage people of all ages to come look for hidden gems among the curated collections for sale. The mall features booths for more than 100 vendors of vintage and collectible goods and is consistently ranked as a must-see for Edmonton on TripAdvisor.
“Our hope is from a national level that people will know that there is this amazing place in Edmonton that isn’t a stuffy old antique mall,” she said.
No matter what happens at the store, Reitan is excited to cheer on Edmonton team James Makokis and Anthony Johnson — who she says are regular customers at the mall — when the episode airs on Tuesday.
“We’re very excited to be able to share this with them.”