Low dollar, medical floor drawing locals back to mall

“It’s very easy for my clientele because a lot of them have crutches or are in wheelchairs." ~ David Abenate, owner of Elite Physiotherapy

The low Canadian dollar may have some cross-border shoppers saying “ba humbug,” but Waneta Plaza manager Linda MacDermid is feeling merry.

Sales are up at the mall; she said, attributing this to fewer people crossing the border for purchases and the success of the second floor bringing more people into the Trail shopping centre.

The Waneta Wellness Centre started with an open house and some interest from the medical community over five years ago. Today, the second floor of the plaza has turned into a professional hub.

“The ones who are here all say the same thing to me, ‘Thank goodness we are here,’” said MacDermid. “‘When we go home at night, we lock the door, and we don’t have to worry about air conditioning, snow clearing or whether the bathrooms are clean.’”

Elite Physiotherapy is the newest business on the block. Owner David Abenante’s vision to provide care in a multi-disciplinary setting came to fruition this August with a team of professionals complimenting his background in physiotherapy.

“We are all locals, born or raised,” he said of registered massage therapist Sherelle Milburn and kinesiologist Francesca Cupello.

He wanted to position the business in an area that would best serve the community and liked the turn-key aspect the location offered.

“There is free parking, everything is wheelchair accessible,” he added. “It’s very easy for my clientele because a lot of them have crutches or are in wheelchairs and it’s very simple for them to park out back and come down the walkway and right inside the door.”

He also liked the idea of collaborating with others in the medical field beyond the walls of his business. Sharing a hallway with people like Dr. Blair Stanley is beneficial for his business and more importantly his patients.

And good business for these professionals also means good business for the retail floor downstairs. Patients from all over the region are making appointments with an opthamologist, chiropractor, surgeon, doctor and more, said MacDermid, who points to room for four or five more offices upstairs.

Downstairs there is still space for a new big box store, where the former Zellers used to be, and a void to fill where Raves Restaurant was situated. There has been some interest in both these spaces; she said, with the latter receiving bites from the Mr. Mike’s franchise.

But in the meantime there is a new buzz in the mall with RossVegas and Champion Lakes Golf Club opening up shop for the season, kicking off holiday shopping with more variety.

Waneta Plaza moves to holiday hours Dec. 10 when it’s open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last-minute shoppers can still check out what’s in store Dec. 24 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or hit the Boxing Day sales from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“I’m sure the low dollar helps people stay home and support their neighbours, which is great,” said MacDermid. “But the second floor really does draw to the shopping centre itself.”