Pokémon GO hotspot draws crowds to River Market

If you’re looking for a hot spot to play Pokémon GO in New Westminster, River Market appears to be the place.

Millions have downloaded the Pokémon GO app and are collecting critters from a virtual world that overlaps with our reality. Game-maker Nintendo plants key game features at landmarks around the world, and River Market is full of them.

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“What we have here at the market is three nodes. The Tin Soldier, the orca whale and the tugboat create this perfect little area for people to collect Pokémon,” said Salim Hassan, River Market’s marketing manager. 

Because the hot spot attracts a lot of players, some have dropped “lures,” drawing more Pokémon to the area, which then draws more people, Hassan explained.

The market’s proximity to the Fraser also means players can catch unique water creatures that are harder to find, he added.

Hassan said people are catching Pokémon all over the market and posting on Instagram; they’ve found Pokémon in Wally’s Burgers and in their tea cups. 

The River Market is trying to get in on the craze and has put up signs encouraging people to take photos to win a free lunch.

“It’s definitely drawing a lot of traffic. We’re seeing an increase throughout the market,” Hassan said. “Whether they are purchasing more from our shops, that’s yet to be determined.”

Hassan started playing the game, using the River Market as his screen name, and he has been talking to the players.

“The social aspect is here, too. People are walking around, and if you have any questions you go up to them directly,” he said. “Everyone I’ve interacted with is super friendly.”

“People are having fun with it,” he said. “It’s good.”

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