Courtesy of Giving Gifts Canada and Jocelyne Halle Photography.

Courtesy of Giving Gifts Canada and Jocelyne Halle Photography.

Shopping for good, quality products has never been harder, and this issue applies to umbrellas too. With the invention of online shopping, more and more customers turn to the descriptions on a website to help them make a selection. However, without the ability to touch, see and test, we never really know what we’re buying. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised and on other turns, horrified by imitations, poor construction or shabby materials.

At the Umbrella Shop, many of our umbrellas are made right in Vancouver above our factory on Broadway, so we know what quality is. Our other umbrellas are made overseas but Corry, the owner, regularly travels there to inspect the facilities and the quality of their work to ensure our umbrellas are done right, every time.

It can be hard to know what to look for if you aren’t an umbrella expert, so we thought we’d round up some tips on what marks quality in the umbrella shopping world.

1. Shop from a reputable source
If you’re buying from large online retailers who don’t note their product sources, you can get counterfeit and poorly made work. If you buy from a place you trust and has great reviews online, (like us!) you are more likely to find quality umbrellas. 

2. Check the ribs
Ribs are usually metal or fiberglass. We make both varieties, but it’s important to pay attention to this area, since this is where the strength of the canopy is. Is the fabric well sewn around the ribs? Are they free of bends? How many are there? All of these things impact the umbrella and its durability, strength and weight.

3. Fabric
Most of us can tell quality fabric when we actually feel it. We use a variety of materials but ensure there is relative strength and thickness. If buying a parasol or patio umbrella, look for UV filtering materials to protect from the sun.

4. Handle
Sturdy is the key. While you can’t tell comfort through a screen, you can look for naturally ergonomically styled handles that will suit a wide range of customers. Seniors and persons with disabilities should look for easy to grip, wide handles, while there are also curved options and different materials. Consider you’ll be holding it up for a while, the design matters!