As major retailer Zellers continues to wind down its operations in Trail the quest for another business to fill the vacuum mirrors the state of the retail industry in general, says the Waneta Plaza general manager.
Linda MacDermid said the 67,000-square-foot space will be vacated by Zellers March 16 but there are no suitors lining up right now to wed to the expanse of retail space.
“It’s not the time of year to be asking, because nothing happens in January and February, most major businesses are still looking at the fallout from Christmas,” she said. “It takes long for retailers to get over that post-Christmas slow down.”
The retail sector has been extremely challenging, not just in the Silver City but throughout the whole province, said Sandy Santori, the regional director of Lower Columbia Initiatives Centre (LCIC).
Any leads the LCIC has made on national outlets for the region have been met with statements of merging, downsizing or closing.
“Obviously that has to do with the overall economy right now,” he said. “A lot of major stores are downsizing in those marginal type markets … and most of the companies I have spoken to aren’t in the expansion mode at this time.”
The area is a bit more challenged in the business realm, he added, as beyond the drain on local business from online purchasing, Trail’s close relation to the border is taxing.
He said it is encouraging to see some smaller new businesses opening in the downtown core.
“Small, but granted they are taking a risk and making an investment and they are employing some people,” he said.
Hopefully some of the 84 employees displaced by the closure of the Zellers store in March.
Tiffany Bourre, Hudson’s Bay Company external communications manager, said nothing is planned by the company after Zellers moves out of the space, even though it still holds the lease for a few more years.
“We don’t have any plans to announce additional locations that will operate beyond what we have announced already. So that store will definitely close,” she said. “The store is currently in liquidation so all inventory would be on sale.”
The mall will continue to look for a tenant in its massive end location, as well as a franchisee for a potential Mr. Mike’s restaurant for the facility.
The Mr. Mike’s franchise wants to be in the mall at this point, said MacDermid, but they can’t find a person in the region to pick up the reins of the operation.
“They know that Trail is just the place for them to be,” she said.
And Trail could just be the place for a new manufacturing plant. Two manufacturing plants looking to locate here feel the same way, said Santori, and the identity of one could be revealed at the end of the month
The dialogue and follow up meetings with a long established business looking to expand into the west are nearly over, he added.
“I can say Trail does meet their needs and they are undergoing due diligence at this time,” he explained. “It is looking quite positive but no decision has been made.”
The proponents in the deal have asked for their identity to be kept confidential at this time, Santori said.
Zellers will be added to the list of retailers leaving the city in the last two years. Your Dollar Store closed in downtown Trail last year, while Liquidation World was liquidated in 2010. In early spring of 2012, HBC closed the downtown location of its Fields store.