Sunday, October 4, 2015

Saje Natural Wellness Opens in St. Vital Mall

Saje Natural Wellness tores
In 2014, Saje Natural Wellness stores opened their first location in Winnipeg at CF Polo Park. The Vancouver-based company opened in 1991 and in recent years has been fast expanding. The newest location just opened this week in St. Vital Mall as of Friday.

Saje offer products covering a wide variety of ailments and/or beauty products.

In an increasingly tough retail market Canadian companies can find opportunities but they have been to be unique and they have to be aggressive and Saje has been both.

By the way, as of last month Polo Park has changed its name to CF Polo Park. The CF stands for Cadillac Fairview.  Expect to see the CF logo more often in the advertising.

Friday, September 25, 2015

List of Stores for Outlet Collection

Outlet Collection Winnipeg at Kenaston
List of possible stores.

Aldo Outlet
American Eagle Outfitters
Ardene Outlet
Aroma Espresso Bar
Banana Republic Factory Store
Bath & Body Works
Bench Factory Store
Big Smoke Burger
Boathouse Outlet
Body Shop Outlet, The
Brooks Brothers Factory Store
Browns Outlet
Buffalo David Bitton
Calvin Klein Outlet
Chico’s Outlet
Children`s Place Outlet, The
Claire's Outlet
Cole Haan
Columbia Sportswear
Danier Leather Outlet Store
ECCO Shoe Factory Outlet
Eddie Bauer
Famous Footwear Outlet
Forever XXI
Fossil Outlet
Freshly Squeezed
Frosted Cupcake
Game On Sports
Gap Factory Store
Gateway Newstands
Geox Outlet
Guess? Outlet
Haggar Clothing Co.
Hot Topic
Imperial Meats
J. Crew Factory
Kate Spade Outlet
Kavar Boutique
Lindt Outlet
L'Occitane Outlet
Michael Kors Outlet
Mountain Warehouse
Naturalizer Outlet
Nine West Shoe Studio
Not Your Daughter's Jeans
Old Navy
Pandora Outlet
Pepper Palace
Polo Ralph Lauren- COMING SOON
Reebok Outlet
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
RUD by Rudsak
Salomon/ Arc`teryx
Samsonite Outlet
Shoe Company, The
Shirt Store
Signature Perfumes
Soft-Moc Shoe Rack
Sunglass Hut Outlet
SURPLUS Official Diesel Outlet
Tommy Hilfiger Outlet
Trade Secrets
Triumph Lingerie Outlet
UGG Outlet
Van Heusen Outlet
White House Black Market Outlet
Wine Country Vintners
Ya Ya & Co.
Zales Outlet

Thursday, September 24, 2015

BESTSELLER Store Coming to Polo Park

BESTSELLER, a multi-brand fashion retailer from Denmark opened their first stores outside of Europe in Canada this week. The Quebec opening in Montreal was followed by the announcement that four more locations in Canada would open by next next year. Polo Park was one of those locations in 2016. Winnipeg will be the first location outside of Quebec.

The trendy store averages about 7000 plus square feet and carries men's, women's, teenager's and children's clothing, Founded in 1975 in Brande, Denmark, the family owned business is
 one of Europe's biggest fashion companies featuring their own brands of Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Noisy May and Y.A.S. In Canada it will exclusively sell Adapt and Studio 75.

This continues the trend of Polo Park moving to highly sought after and exclusive retailers for the mall store.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Oh Doughnuts Coming to Broadway

On Broadway just below Amici's
Amanda Kinden's artisan doughnuts have been enjoyed at Parlour Coffee for some time but she has not had her own location till now. The former Bella's Spa below Amici's came available and as of this week a banner has hung outside announcing their future home.

Broadway has always been a people street and food trucks and restaurants line both sides of the street to serve the residential and office crowd. The soon to be completed RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre may also be part of the crowd that looks to be served by the variety of food services in the area.

Often in our focus of things the city has gotten wrong, it is hard to remember what the city has got right. Broadway continues to be a source of things that attract people in growing numbers.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Goodlife Fitness Coming to St. James

3193 Portage Avenue Superstore
Goodlife Fitness continues their expansion in Canada which has taken them coast to coast and made them the largest fitness company in Canada.

They have been looking at expanding in several parts of the city only to be thwarted by the lack of ideal space or bigger retail giants swooping in and grabbing spots. When Target shut down, Goodlife put in an offer on many of the properties only to be re-buffed. In Winnipeg, Target Grant Park went to Canadian Tire, Southdale Target went to Walmart and Target Polo Park went to owners of Polo Park. Kildonan remains unclaimed but Goodlife is already just down the street from there.

A number of weeks ago, Goodlife listed the latest place for their expansion in Winnipeg and it is in St. James.  The address they listed is 3193 Portage Avenue which is home to Real Canadian Superstore.

Goodlife and Superstore are old friends. In Winnipeg, the first two Goodlife Women's Only gyms were set up in or on Superstore properties on McPhillips and in Sargent down from Polo Park. Those clubs remain with the company today.

The Superstore in St. James on Polo Park is an odd duck. It is one of a very few Superstores with an underground parking lot on Canada. Built in 1989 for around $10 million, the company initially tried to buy an abandoned adjacent school site of the St. James school division but were re-buffed. They went ahead anyways and built a heated parkade instead and found success as one of the first large sized stores in the 250,000 square foot range in the west end of the city.

Site of Goodlife Expansion?
The old school site did eventually get sold and developed and on the corner facing Portage is a Crosstown Credit Union. At the back of the site now is a condo. In between the space as seen above is a space listed for development and could accommodate a 20,000 square foot building. This is the exact size Goodlife needs for a co-ed gym.

There is already a Shapes Women's gym and a Y on west Portage but they do serve different crowds. The construction of a new co-ed fitness center right in the middle of neighbourhood on the south side is likely to be very welcome.

I am not entirely sure of the logistics of the project that will be complete next year. The configuration of the parking lot will be interesting. Look to see zoning plans for it soon!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Landmark Cinemas at Grant Park

In Late June, New Landmark sign went up at Grant Park
This week the Landmark Cinemas at Grant Park did a full reveal of the $2 million redevelopment of their eight screen movie theatre. Formerly know as the Empire Theatres, the movie chain was jettisoned by the Sobey family when their grocery division purchased Safeway.

Grant Park mall has been undergoing a years long renovation that has had to adapt as big changes in Canada's retail market shook up the scene. The arrival of Target was the impetus of change at the shopping center but planners could not have forecast what was in store for the future. Sobey's was forced to sell off four Safeways by the federal government for competition reasons and Grant Park Safeway was one of them. This brought a whole new player to town in the form of Red River Co-Op who for the last few decades were more known for gas and convenience stores rather than grocery.

Menawhile, all of this was happening at the same time as Zellers was closed and Target moved into Canada. For Grant Park it meant a multi-million expansion of old Zellers footprint to accommodate the new Target. Not to be outdone, McNally, Liquor Mart and Shopper's all expanded.

The inside of the mall was upgraded was section at a time and some long time tenants closed or moved to make way for others. It was a bit of a mess and it continued for a few years.

However, it was all in anticipation of Target coming so every dollar spent was considered a worthwhile investment. And when Target finally opened? Pfft. It still had the new paint smell when the company decided to tuck tail, close and run home.

Still, Grant Park owners had already committed to completing the renovation they had set upon so floors and skylights proceeded apace.

Sobey's Empire selling of their theatre division to Landmark Cinemas of Alberta was just one more adjustment along the way. The company was no stranger to Winnipeg as they continue to own the Towne in the downtown. However, the company had seemed content to stay out of the way of Cineplex and Empire for the big suburban movie houses.

At first Landmark just ran the theater as is with no major changes but it soon became apparent that the company wanted to upgrade and brand the theater as their own. To be sure, things are afoot in the movie business. The conversion of Cinema City to Odeon VIP for $4 million in 2012 introduced reserved seating and a licensed lounge and drinks at your seat. Both Silver City locations also had major upgrades and Imax added.

Landmark did one step further. They have made ALL their seats reserved. No more wondering if you get a seat separate from the rest of your party because of rush seating. A few years from now, movie goers will probably wonder why this never happened before.

So aside from the reserved seating, what else did the $2 million buy? It bought a lounge where a store once stood and a grander entrance to the lobby. The lounge is not licensed for alcohol but there are hints it will be. It is available to anyone in the mall as it is before the ticket collector for the theatres.

The new concessions are pretty snazzy but the highlight is three drink dispensers that can deliver 131 drink flavours and can even be mixed.

The decor and seating have all been refreshed and one theater has Extra enhancements for 3D and rocker seats.

In all a major improvement. Landmark has noticed that certain blockbusters are likely to be less attractive to clientele so expect a few more discerning movie goers to Grant Park. All in all the theater is a welcome improvement to the city.

While Grant Park is still putting together the last few pieces in the mall including a Northern Reflections opening in October, it still awaits the hard work to turn the old Target into a Canadian Tire. It will be at that time that the mall will be able to say that work for a time is complete.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Odysseo Coming to Winnipeg September 10

If there was any doubts that circus was in town a drive down Kenaston would put that to rest.

The big top is up kitty corner to IKEA and lots of activity is taking place in advance of Cavalia's production of Odysseo. The show runs September 10 to October 4 and features
an equestrian and acrobatics show in a creation put together by one of the founders of the Cirque du Soleil.

The fencing went in an around the production in the last days and the additional tent tops are in place for horses, performers and services for the audience. Outsides lights now fill the night skies illuminating the largest touring tent show in the world. At over 38 meters high and covering 6,320 meters of space, it is bigger than the Winnipeg Blue Bomber field. The stage within the tent is bigger than the MTS Centre's skating surface.

It is simply an enormous facility. And yet for all that, only 2000 or so people will seated in side for a show. The bulk of the space will be for the performance featuring a 13 meter mountain and 380,000 liter lake for the 65 horse and the 45 human performers.

Everything about the show is big and the 80 workers assembling the site are at it every day. The $10 production is expected to generate around $5.5 million in economic benefits to the city and about 100 local temporary jobs. Ticket prices range from $50 to $250 at the highest VIP level of experience.

Cavalia generally performs in large cities around the world and the reviews are often glowing. It is a little more unusual that they appear in a city under a million people. Expect quite a bit of excitement as the show nears opening date.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Audi Dealership Coming to Seasons of Tuxedo

Dark gold by Kenaston represents two auto dealers
St. James Volkswagen Audi has announced that the Audi division will re-locate to one of two dealerships that will face Kenaston on the Outlets of Seasons Tuxedo mall development. In essence, this will double the capacity of both Volkswagen and Audi floor and lot space for this dealer group.

The new electric cars for Audi require 12 outdoor charging stations for their luxury model so being closer to their customers and having the space was a key need. The showroom floor's increase in size also was needed for the additional models the dealership would be selling in Manitoba. Other add-ons will be a detailing area, a car wash and 18 bay service center over three floors. Total space around 70,000 square feet.

The Outlets of Seasons site still has one dealership spot that has not been announced. And just north of the dealers and also facing Kenaston is a hotel site. Expect further announcements soon.

Audi expects to move into their location into the spot 2016/2017.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Charles Adler Leaves CJOB

Charles Adler
The most recent ratings period for radio knocked CJOB off the top of the pedestal for the first time in decades. Possibly no station has had such dominance time in Canada.The only time they were knocked off their perch was by a music station but they quickly re-gained their dominance and maintained it for ratings period after ratings period.

Until now.

There are a lot of factors in play so let's list where things may have slipped.

The most joyous time for a conservative radio station is when government is composed of a left or centrist party. It is the fuel that boosts the engine. Having an NDP government helped CJOB in the ratings in the past but when Adler moved to afternoons for a national broadcast, it was no help. With the federal Conservative party in power and especially when they got a majority, there was big power to rail against.

Deriding Liberal, NDP and Greens had always been catnip but since they had no power in a majority government, listeners were at a loss when they had a grievance. This left the culture war as a windmill to tilt against. The Harper Tories were unable to get things done because of the CBC, environmentalists, unelected courts and Senate and just no-good ratnicks on the left. At least this was the narrative that was spun.

Eventually that dog didn't hunt when something like the Senate and Mike Duffy happened. The spin on it still circled back to Harper. The culture wars in Canada were not working very well for ratings because many felt their disgust in a majority government lay with the party in power. It was hard to pursue a left versus right agenda when the right was doing less than optimally. Subsequently Charles Adler's national programming was less popular than returning to more local based programming

Charles Adler moved back to local morning broadcasts on CJOB. For a time it was business as usual but there was a constant re-shuffling but fortunately in other time slots. Hal Anderson in the morning was let go. News director Richard Cloutier slid into the spot before the Adler program. Other changes happened in the noon and afternoon programming.

The recession starting in 2008 hurt a lot of businesses dependent on advertising. The Free Press, CBC, The Sun, CJOB and CTV have all done tinkering to improve ratings and the bottom line. Many people have lost jobs. Meanwhile, competition has emerged on a lot of media fronts. For newspapers it is The Metro. For radio it is XM satellite radio and streaming music services, podcasts and downloaded music.

Still CJOB held a lead but things were changing ever still.

It can't be understated how badly losing the Winnipeg Jets broadcast rights hurt the station in 2011. The station had been the broadcaster for Manitoba Moose from 1996 to 2011 and hockey was considered one of the reasons why the station dominated. It is interesting to note that when the Jets left CJOB briefly fell below Q94 in the ratings before recovering.

The station put a very good bid for the new Jets broadcasting rights in 2011 only to be outbid by TSN TV's regional TV and radio combination play. CJOB's parent didn't have a cable sports broadcaster to do a tandem bid for more money. The money TSN put in was a surprise to most but then net effect over the last years has been excellent ratings for TV and steady climb up for traditional last place finisher TSN Radio.

At one point in the 1980s, CJOB lost the Jets 1.0 broadcast rights to CKY. Ken Nicolson and Kurt Kielback actually left CJOB to continue their work as radio hosts on the new station. Coincidentally, Charles Adler worked at CKY for a time in news in the 1980s. CJOB didn't take the loss of Jets lightly though. They built up a before and after hockey broadcast that was near a popular as their rival.

To some extent CJOB had attempted to beef up their sports department to beef up their sports department beyond woeful Blue Bombers to be part of the hockey talk in town. The last ratings period saw one of their sports staff lose their jobs.

It is a good bet that if CJOB had not lost the Winnipeg Jets, they still might be the number 1 station in Winnipeg.

Still, there are so many other factors going on aside from recession, Conservatives in Ottawa and losing the Jets that have contributed to CJOB's ratings. It is possible the stations ratings would have dropped earlier had it not been the fact that commercial radio, especially in music, has far more competition than ever before. There are now more stations including college broadcasts. There is recorded devices that hook up to your car so you can listen to your own choices. There is XM satellite radio. All of this likely helped CJOB stay atop. However, it also helped its longtime nemesis: the CBC.

There was a time where CBC trailed everyone in the ratings. Nearer the bottom than to the top, it has climbed to the point where it was a consistent top 3. The amount of music stations and splitting of listeners allowed the CBC to have a certain distinctiveness than a station playing country/pop did not have. The move of CBC to have both a AM and FM signal was probably the final push the station needed. Truth be told, there were too many dead spots in parts of the city for the AM signal. The FM signal travels well in the canyons of the downtown. In some cases, better than satellite radio.

The latest Numeris BBM ratings had the CBC finish first over CJOB. If someone had suggested this possibility 10 years ago, they would have been laughed at.

To be sure CBC Radio One is not without without its own programming tweaks.  They have shuffled hosts, not re-newed some of their local hosts. And their national programming with Q went through the worst of what you ever want one of your show's to have: loss of a host due to scandal. Somehow, despite all this the CBC ended up in first place.

Charles Adler left his job after 17 years. That is a pretty good run for anyone and all of this in private radio and without the Jets in the schedule at any time while he was there. He garnered honours during his broadcast career and he attracted both fans and foes. However, in the end a fair custodian of a show that was one that had influence all way back to Peter Warren.

The media has looked less and less like a career that might span a few decades. Print, radio and TV and online are all hardscrabble now. Maybe they were always like that but it seems to me that many only last a short time in the profession.

The morning show has been taken over by Geoff Currier who has a long radio career in the same type of radio broadcasting in Winnipeg. He has tried his hands at politics a few times so some will  be looking to see about he approaches things. One of the better guests on Adler was Warren Kinsella, a Liberal. Better to have a little bit of fire crackers in a broadcast to liven things up that to pursue ideology.

It is difficult to see where radio will go. It is obvious that being free is not enough. It has to be unique and it has to have a voice. The sameness to music radio is killing it. Radio talk can be immediate and local. We need more of it, not less.

As Charles Adler heads to B.C., it is good to remember that CJOB has toughed it out before.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Simons Coming to Winnipeg

Last week the head of La Maison Simons announced the worst kept secret of their expansion plans: That they are coming to Winnipeg. The Quebec-based department store started by the Simons family from Scotland in 1840 are coming to Vancouver and Mississauga and second location in Edmonton soon. The first Simons outside Quebec was built in the West Edmonton Mall in 2012

The rumour has been that Simons has their eye on the former Target store at Polo Park. Cadillac Fairfiew, the owner of Polo Park bought the site when Target shut down and Nordstrom's, Sak's, Simons and Lowe's are all kicking the tires. The 100,000 square foot location is a big spot to fill but Polo Park is the 13th best shopping mall in Canada for a retailer to be located.

This is not the first time rumours on Nordstrom's and Simons have been heard in regards to Polo Park. The old Zellers site was looked at on the second floor but there were concerns about about how much traffic that location could attract for a department store. Moreover, there are many retailers waiting for Sears to leave Polo Park to take over that site.

Sears might try to stay in Polo Park to the bitter end. Many think that the company may not make it to 2016. Still, waiting for the death to happen might be a wait and the newly built and now empty Target location awaits.

Simons in indeed coming to Winnipeg as their president says. There is not a major retailer in Canada who doesn't have the mall on their list of dream locations. Expect an announcement soon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Save on Foods Coming to Bridgwater Center and St. James Street

Left, Save on Foods location
As reported here, Save on Foods is coming to Winnipeg. Billionaire Jimmy Pattison (who owns the grocer among other holdings) announced three locations and more to come at the former Zellers at Northgate Shopping Centre. Around a thousand people came to hear Pattison and his execs in person talk about the west coast grocer moving into the Winnipeg market with possibly 12 stores.

Any why not? The U.S. owners of Safeway tucked tail and ran back to the U.S, and sold their interests to Sobey's. The government forced a bare minimum of stores to be sold in the interests of competition but did nothing about all of the warehousing and manufacturing that Safeway had in the west. Subsequently, Winnipeg has been hit hard by Safeway lay-offs. The ice cream plant and now the enormous distribution plant on King Edward/Route 90 are being closed and a few hundred employes shown the door.

The only reason that Sobey's has probably not shut down even more Safeway stores is that they were possibly nervous that Co-Op might pick up even more than the four stores they have now.  Now they have even more to contend with now that Save On Foods has come to town.

In addition to the Northgate Shopping Centre where part of the old Zellers will become a store, Save on Foods will be building a store from the ground up in the Bridgwater Centre area of Waverley West and at the old Future Shop location on St. James street opposite Polo Park. All stores should come on street sometime in the fall of this year.

Old Future Shop location, future Save On Foods
The conversion of the old Future Shop on St. James is a brilliant stroke as it comes on the heels of all the roadwork to improve access. A very large Safeway and Real Canadian Superstore are close by but this store will be the closest to Polo Park than any other grocer.

Future Save on Foods at Bridgwater Centre
The move into the Bridgwater Centre is a real coup because it is totally new and the shoppers will be totally new. An entire population is developing around the area and their local store won't be Safeway, Sobey's or Co-Op. It will be a Save on Foods.

All roads lead to Save on Foods
Save on Foods is likely going to need a distribution center of their own as they continue their growth of possibly 20 stores in Manitoba and the same in Saskatchewan.

The site of the new Save on Foods
There will be hundreds of jobs created with the arrival of Save on Foods. The biggest plus though is that competition between grocers will be keen and that can only be good for everyone in Manitoba.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Save On Foods Coming to Northgate Mall

Former Zellers at Northgate Mall
I have gotten reports from several people telling me of a flyer advertising for a Save On Foods coming to the Northgate Mall on McPhillips. This is not unexpected as the company said they would be moving into Winnipeg earlier this year.

Save on Foods is a division of Overwaitea in Vancouver owned by billionaire Jimmy Pattison. The Sobey's takeover of Safeway was an opening for Save on Foods to expand ever further. The federal government forced the sale of some of those location for greater competition. It is interesting to note that even before that Save on Foods was expanding; most notably in Alberta.

The sale of Zellers to Target and the subsequent closure of Target has represented another opportunity for Save on Foods to move into the Manitoba market. Sobey's continues to consolidate its holdings and warehouses and more stores will close. In some cases there remains a Sobey's right across the street from a Safeway even in Winnipeg.

The only reason Sobey's has likely held off closing stores even faster is the threat of Co-Op and Save on Foods grabbing the abandoned locations.

The Northgate Mall on McPhillips is a odd duck. It is home to a few retailers and the last discount move theatre in the city. Zellers was never solely a grocer but it did have groceries. I suspect a Save on Foods at that location will be a very welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

It won't be the only Save on Foods for Winnipeg most certainly. Welcome to the city.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lowe's Home Improvement Coming to Linden Ridge Mall

Linden Ridge Mall
A number of media sources have confirmed that Lowe's Home Improvement will finally be coming to Winnipeg. They had initially said there were going into Seasons of Tuxedo and had plans drawn up but somehow nothing happened.

I have written about Linden Ridge Mall once before about how they were one of the original builders on Kenaston in the 1990s but had seen other developers scoop up big names for their own projects along the street. In the last year and a bit the mall has made a renewed effort to fully develop their site. It would appear that a 106,000 square foot Lowe's beside the Co-Op Gas should do that.

Manitoba is one of the few provinces to not have a Lowe's. The competition between Rona. Home Depot and Lowe's should be keen.

There will be still be some adjustment to the closure of many retailers in the last months and nearly four months of a contracting Canadian economy. Still, it is clear that Kenaston is the most important street for retailers in Manitoba. Lowe's felt there was no choice but to be somewhere on Kenaston.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Montana's Coming to Seasons of Tuxedo

Aside from the Seasons apartments which have gone up in the last several months, it is safe to say that the Seasons of Tuxedo site has slowed down in development. Assinibone Credit Union is running and a few service based businesses are putting down roots but Red River Sports folded and their space remain vacant.

The promise of a Lowe's Home Improvement and the plans they submitted to the city remain unfulfilled. Suffice to say that it appears a lot of business is taking a wait and see attitude as development as accelerated on Winnipeg's first factory outlet mall. Housing is going up all over Sterling Lyon Parkway. Without doubt the area will have a large resident population and soon.

In the mean time, after 9 PM, things get real quiet in the parking lots of IKEA and Cabela's. The restaurants of Fat Burger and Taco Del Mar do attract people later on but the lack of a casual dining restaurant is profound. This will be now remedied by the arrival of Montana's Restaurant.

The plans for the restaurant were provided to the city this week. The size of the place will be over 5000 square feet and include a patio. There will be substantial landscaping, sidewalks and bike access to the site.

So much has changed at the corner of Sterling Lyon and Kenaston and so much more is coming. It is hard to be believe that just three years ago, it was rail land and industrial and with no people living there.

Expect the one casual dining place will attract others. It will be interesting to see if we land restaurants not presently in the Winnipeg market.
Montana's above the Fat Burger location

Friday, June 12, 2015

Home2 Suites By Hilton Coming to Winnipeg

The Westport Festival development gets a boost with the hint of another hotel joining the planned Hampton Inn.  No official announcement has been made but on the Shindico website, the Home2 Suites by Hilton logo appears in the large space fronting the Red River Ex and adjacent to the MTS Iceplex and Assiniboia Downs.

Make no mistake though, it is the complete success of the MTS Iceplex that is driving the hotel boom along Portage Avenue. For fourplex ice service hosts so many out of town teams that there has been a scramble for hotel space nearby.

Home2 is an extended stay hotel chain. It will be curious to see what client base will use the hotel. The Winnipeg Jets as well as the Manitoba Moose use the MTS Iceplex and the facility continues to see multiple tournaments a year. It is a quite busy area and can be even busier when Red River Ex is up and running.

No announcements of stores and officer at Westport Festival but can they be far behind? Rumour has it that Overwaitea from British Columbia is looking for space for one of their grocery stores in Winnipeg, possibly a Save On Foods. Expect to hear more in the next weeks and months.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

MasterMind Toys Coming to Winnipeg

Mastermind Toys is in the middle of an aggressive western Canada expansion that includes Winnipeg. The Toronto-based store was founded in 1984 and started off as a 300 square foot retailer of children's educational toys and software. Today the privately owned chain numbers 40 stores and big players like Amazon and Toy R Us have been no impediment to the company increasing locations, employees and profits.

The target number of stores would appear to be 100 Canadian stores in the next number of years.

The company had admitted that they have a location that will be opening in Winnipeg in 2015 and their website indicates they are hiring managers now.

The big question is where. The rumour is in the Polo Park area but no confirmation on this.

Despite the bruising closing of stores in recent months like Future Shop and Target, there still seems to be strong absorption of those empty spaces and new retailing spaces across the country.

A Canadian toy retailer that seems to have the finger on the pulse of the nation and able to succeed will be a welcome addition in the Winnipeg market.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fools and Horses on Broadway Now Open

It took a while to get constructed but the Horses and Fools coffee house finally opened on the long weekend. It fills a long vacant spot at 379 Broadway that used to have a MoneyMart. The proximity to government offices and other office towers as well as newly expanding RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre probably will help this business find success. The growing residential community along Assiniboine in the shape of condos and apartments will likely find this window filled establishment a great meeting place.

There has always been a good lunch crowd on the busy Broadway.  A few choice restaurants such as Amici's and restaurants in the Fort Garry Hotel and Place satisfy more refined tastes. There are Starbucks, Tim's, Subway, The Fixx Express Bar and Cafe 22 for the many people who work Winnipeg's most pedestrian friendly neighbourhood.

In January, Nicks on Broadway moved into the old location of SelFISH sushi restaurant at 287 Broadway. The sandwich place is just down the street from the Fort Garry Hotel.

The vitality of the Broadway area has always been strong with only a few parking lots that front the street and a few unforgiving buildings that offer no real street presence. The ability to sit and enjoy the tree lined avenue has been one of the main strengths.

Fools and Horses with a window happy sit and enjoy the world walk by atmosphere should help the western leg of Broadway. It is difficult to know just how much the Convention Centre crossing York and occupying a surface lot will change things. However, if we look at what happened the original 1970s construction, it created a lot of surrounding activity including long lasting restaurants.

The need to be able connect various vital areas of the city together will only enhance the success of those places.  So a big welcome to Fools and Horses and a belated one to Nicks on Broadway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blue Bomber Store Grand Opening Polo Park

Polo Park Store Near Starbucks
Seemed like a no brainer that with Grey Cup this year that the Blue Bombers should have a store beside what they have at Investor's Group Field. For a time before moving to the south of Winnipeg the Bombers had a fair sized store in St. Vital Centre. The ended with the team moving south.

It seemed natural that having a store in the Polo park area to replace the stadium store would happen. Alas, it didn't. As the Jets will tell you, marketing can help the bottom line and if merchandise is sold by the team it can be tied to all sorts of promotions.

The Winnipeg Jets used to have a good store in Polo Park in the 1990s. Sadly, the revenue earned there was no substitute for a salary cap and owning your own building. Not to mention a high Canadian dollar.

On May 23, the grand opening takes place for Polo Park Bomber store. It is set up to stay there until December upon which time they will re-evaluate.

Every year I get drawn in by the Blue Bombers. It has been a long time since we have been able to see them challenge for and win the Grey Cup. Hopefully a hometown team is all dressed in their best Bomber clothes to see a victory.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Polo Park 13th Most Productive Mall in Canada

The old Polo Park sign and sundial
Polo Park is the hands down biggest and most popular mall in Winnipeg. None compares in size in the province. But how does it stack up nation-wide?

Well, according to latest figures quite high.

1) Pacific Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,498
2) Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,420
3) Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,395
4) Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,356
5) Southgate Shopping Centre, Edmonton, AB: $1,157
6) Chinook Centre, Calgary, AB: $1,125
7) Rideau Centre, Ottawa, ON: $1,008
8) Holt Renfrew Centre, Toronto, ON: "over $1,000" says landlord.
9) Market Mall, Calgary, AB: $942
10) Sherway Gardens, Toronto, ON: $935
11) Square One, Mississauga, ON: $910
12) Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, BC: $886
13) Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB: $873
14) Peter Pond Mall, Ft. McMurray, AB: $870
15) Le Carrefour Laval, Laval, QC: $865
16) Fairview Mall, Toronto, ON: $843
17) Richmond Centre, Richmond, BC: $833
18) Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto ON: $820
19) Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, ON: $818
20) Bayview Village, Toronto, ON: $810

Most of the above malls have done multimillion renovations to enhance sales per square footage including Polo Park that is still putting the finishing touches on the second floor improvements within the old Zellers location.

Old Polo Park
 The exclusive stores for certain malls really helps the bottom line. For example, Polo Park having the only Apple store is enormous. Many Apple stores in Canada rack up $50 million is sales with only 5000 square feet!

Sears continues to drag down sales in many malls across Canada including Polo Park. Can the big retailer turn things around? Hard to say. However, it is very likely if they don't there are many who would gladly take over the space or at least part of it.

It would be interesting to see where St. Vital Mall stands in all of this. I suspect that it has too many stores with far lower sales volumes to ever challenge Polo Park. It has also has less room for growth unless they ever take possession of the Sears store or a few other parts of the building. One has to wonder if 20 plus stores in the Sears space would be better for that mall.

What is next for Polo Park? Well, fill the last spaces and shuffling a few more retailers around and come the next months perhaps the biggest sales in the mall's history now that renovations are nearly done. The only big question? Is Sears going to be part of those plans?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Defunct Video Stores of Winnipeg

Music Traders became home to Movie Village after it closed
The first video rental store in North America came in 1977 in Los Angeles when 20th Century Fox was in financial trouble. Despite the blockbuster Star Wars released in the same year, some studios were bleeding money because of older and decaying movie theatres and audiences who were turning to TV in greater numbers. To combat this at the behest of Magnetic Video, 20th Century Fox released 50 older films for the Betamax and VHS rental market.

This was not a cheap form of entertainment. In 1977, JVC introduced the first VCR for home use which included the ability to record for 2 hours. The cost was just under $1500. In today's dollars, it would be like a family spending $5500. Sony's Betamax released in 1975 was also priced in the $1500 range. The early movies available like Bridge on the River Kwai and Butch Cassidy had to ordered from a catalogue and were not inexpensive. Blank tapes were $20 or over $70 in today's dollars and movie tapes were $50 to $100 each which in today's dollars meant movies started at over $150 and up!

It is easy to see why the rental market for videos was the way to go. It was very expensive for the early adopters. I remember seeing a Betamax machine in 1979 at a friend's house. It was a huge box and worth a down payment on a home during those years. And that is no exaggeration. I recall not being impressed by the movies. None were new and I was not familiar with Hello, Dolly! or The King and I except seeing them at Rainbow Stage. Like a lot of people at the time, I longed for Star Wars.

In my house we only got cable and a colour TV a few years earlier.  Videon arrived in Winnipeg on the west side of the Red River in 1968. We had a black and white TV at the time. The screen wasn't huge but the cabinetry around it was. Cable even at $5 a month was a lot for my family so we didn't pick it up until late 1971. We only got a colour TV in 1973. It was only a year earlier that pretty much all prime TV from the U.S. was broadcast in colour.

My family would not be the first to get a VCR. However, the availability of videos and places to rent them sort of reached a critical mass around 1981. It was Christmas that year and in 1982 that many people got as a family gift, a VCR. For my family it was 1982 and for me the main reason was so I could see Star Wars which was being made available for the first time as a rental.

It was in 1981 or 1982 that the first video rental place in my neighbourhood on Academy Road near Lanark Street opened. The store was inside what used to be a sporting good store owned by present Royal Sports owners.

Video Zone on Academy Road had one wall of Beta tapes and the other wall had VHS. For some time, I believe you could even rent a Betamax to watch your rented video. Not sure when Adi's arrived on Academy Road but I thought a year or two later. Multiples of certain video stores started to arrive until there was well over a hundred and perhaps just under 200 store renting videos if you eventually included adult and 7/11 stores.

I am going to list as many of the defunct video stores by the street and cross street as I can. I am not going to remember all of them at all so will require assistance from you the trusted reader! Any details on the store will be appreciated as well. Expect this to be updated often.

Academy Road:

Video Zone: Lanark Street. Early arrival to the video rental business.
Adi's Video: Oak Street, one of a number Adi's.


Windsor Video: 1069 Autumnwood 


SIR Video: Later Rogers Video

Corydon Avenue:

Just New Releases: Lanark Street at Corydon Village Mall
Adi's Video: Tuxedo Village Mall


Bill's Home Video: At Meadowood. Now a Liqour Mart across from St. Vital Centre 


Goulet Viideo: 145 a Goodwill.

Grant Avenue:

Jumbo Video: Kenaston Village Mall which was replaced by a Rogers Video.
Rogers Video: Kenaston Village Mall across from Superstore at Grant
Blockbuster Video: Grant Park Shopping Mall
Blockbuster Video: Charleswood Shopping Mall

Henderson Highway:

Adi's Video: At Martin Street


Jumbo Video: Later Blockbuster Video at 12 Lakewood
Country Video: 35 Lakewood Southdate a Pet Valu. 


Movie Village: Rosyln Road. Huge selection and one of the longest lasting at that location before moving next door to Music Traders

Blockbuster Video: a Snap Fitness.


St. Boniface Video: Beside Hair Passion 


Rogers Video - McLeod between Gateway and London


The Video Superstore (TVS): Later best Sleep Centre
Video Den
Adi's Video
Portage Avenue:

Movie Gallery: Garfield Street. Now Gooch's Bike Shop

Roblin Boulevard:

Rogers Video: Charleswood Square at Dieppe Road
Pick-A-Flick: Between Sparrow and Dale...later to Forest Park Mall (Charleswood Mall)
Video Den: Sparrow and Dale strip mall after Pick-A-Flick

Springfield Road

Pick-A-Flick - Springfield and Raleigh
Blockbuster - Springfield and Henderson

St. Mary's Road

Bill's Video - Across from Tim Horton's  


Adi's Video: 414 Westmount