Thursday, May 26, 2016

Real Canadian Superstore Click and Collect

This will be the second attempt at e-commerce and groceries in the last 25 years by a major grocer. The first attempt failed on poor technology and delivery services were just not at a level that inspired confidence or popularity. It took this long to try it again.

Loblaw's, owner of Real Canadian Superstore, makes Manitoba their 4th province to adopt the Click and Collect program of shopping. The service starts Superstore Portage Avenue location and Superstore Bison Drive location this week. They will the 60th and 61st locations across Canada to offer online shopping and pick-up. Superstore Sargent Avenue and Superstore McPhillips Street location next week.

To use the program, as customer will access the 20,000 item website and fill out their grocery order and then send in. They will have access to all the specials, discounts and other offers of the day. Once the order was sent, 10-12 personal shoppers who fill the order which includes being very picky over produce. They have a scanner that tracks their time since they have to have it all available for a pick-up with an estimated price and two hour window.

The customer arrives to a reserved parking area out front of the store. Sadly, you have to go inside to pay at this stage and a average of $3 to $5 service charge on top of your total grocery purchase is added. After that, the items can be taken to your car by yourself or by staff.

There will be unlikely any delivery service since it would require vehicles capable of keeping food cold and fresh.

Superstore is not the only company out there offering online shopping but with their participation, competition will be strong across the city. For many people, this could be a real time saver for a minimum charge. The bricks and mortar stores face huge competition from Amazon and this seems to be their answer in challenging that.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Main Street Co-Op Closing

The Co-op 1441 Main Street didn't last long. Two years. It isn't closing as a result of poor business. No, Co-op was interested in upgrades, a new lease or outright ownership of the former Safeway on Main.

Instead what has happened is that the landlord has found a new tenant and needs Co-Op out by end of June. The company hasn't taken this lying down. The ran a full page ad in the Free Press expressing their view and indicated that they would be keeping their Co-Op pharmacy in the area in a closed Scotiabank across the street.

Co-Op remains with three grocery stores in Winnipeg. The Red River Co-Op itself has plans for a few more gas stations, convenience stores and car washes in the city.

The former Extra Foods nearby is now a No Frills store run under one of the Loblaw's banners so the new tenant seems to unlikely be from that company. This raises the question of just exactly ranks has a better long term occupant on this section of Main Street. If it is indeed another food store, this is a very bold move on their part.

There continues to be a lot of jockeying around in the Winnipeg grocery business. Sobey's takeover of Safeway continues to have its challenges not the least of which is what to do about redundant stores. Save On Foods or Co-Op seem ready to grab space and there is new news that Walmart may set up a strictly grocery business across Canada.

There likely will more afoot in the coming months and it will continue to alter what was once a fairly static business in the city.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Goodlife Fitness Coming to Grant Park Shopping Center

In 2015, Goodlife Fitness indicated an interest in all of the Targets that were closing in Canada. Some scoffed at this without realizing how many former Eaton's locations had been taken over by the national gym many years back. Still, at least in Manitoba, the pursuit of four fair sized locations seemed a longshot for a variety of reasons due to size or location.

Grant Park just north of future transit station. High traffic area coming soon
There has been no official announcement but it has been confirmed by sources in the real estate world that Goodlife is about to occupy one of the old Targets. That location is the Grant Parking Shopping Center.

At first it was thought that Canadian Tire would occupy the whole location. However, the renovations underway reveal that the retailer has taken 86,000 square feet of the old space. The part that is left is still a massive 34,000 square feet section immediately behind Pony Coral.

The map included shows how Canadian Tire will share the space with Goodlife. At 34,000 square feet, it will easily be the biggest location in the city surpassing Kenaston

Canadian Tire opens July 1st and Goodlife Fitness, if all the rumours are true, looks to be in the next several months.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Rady Family Donates $30 million to University of Manitoba

Ernest Rady
So who is Ernest Rady and how is it that he has donated $30 million to a university faculty that he didn't even attend?

To understand that, one should know something about the family. In this case, Ernest Rady is honouring his father Max Rady, the first Jewish university graduate of the University of Manitoba medical school. Max married Rose Bronfman, sister of Sam Bronfman who would go on to own the Seagram liquor company.
The Bronfmans have been one of the legendary families of Canadian business and it all started in Manitoba. At one point as the family moved into alcohol sales, they owned the Bell Hotel in Winnipeg. After the purchase of Seagram in 1928, Sam made his headquarters in Montreal. Other family members remained in Winnipeg including sister Rose.

Together Max and Rose had three children Ernest, Majorie (Blankstein) and Mindel (Olenick). Both sisters continue to live in Winnipeg and are well known philanthropists.

In 1951, Sam Bronfman divided assets of the booming Seagram company among his eight brothers and sisters including Rose. Sam took the greatest share which led to squabbling and lawsuits. Only Rose supported Sam by saying that he was being modest about how much the liquor company's success depended on him. Rose had $1 million shares in Seagrams in 1948 and used the money to create a company divided into three parts. Both daughters got 30% and Ernest received 40%.

Ernest seemed to inherit the drive of his father and went to the University of Manitoba himself and earned degrees in law and commerce. At 16, Ernest had to take over the company as a stroke had befallen his dad. The investments he made were successful. He struck out to the United States in 1966 where he made his home in San Diego where he bought property.

In 1967, he formed American Assets which including shareholdings from his branch of the family in Winnipeg. Later, he founded publicly traded real estate investment trust Westcorp which eventually was sold in 2006 and became part of West Fargo. All in all it was a dizzying array of assets in finance, real estate, oil and gas and media. It also included at one time a part ownership in the Major League Baseball team San Diego Padres.

The year 2007 was a sad and dramatic year for the Rady family. Shortly after the death of a beloved brother-in-law in Winnipeg, Ernest, wife Evelyn and a maid were attacked in a home invasion where they were tasered and robbed. In 2008, the world-wide recession hit him very hard and around $1 billion was erased of his wealth. At one point, he went to an ATM only to find his card was rejected.

The downward turn in the market was again caused family feuding where Ernest was sued for more money from American Assets. He eventually won but there were a lot of regrets when he called the nephews, in-laws and others "ingrates."

Ernest Rady continued to have assets and the market recovered and with his money he decided to continue his long work in charity. In San Diego, he was a legend for donations to the Children's Hospital and the University of San Diego for a business school. Nearly $200 million was donated in his adopted hometown.

Winnipeg was not forgotten in all this and Ernest Rady and his sisters donated shy of million to the University of Manitoba medical school for the Mindermar professorship in human simulation​ in 2009.

Most people in Winnipeg if they know the Rady name at all associate it with the Rady Center at the Jewish Community Campus in Winnipeg. Since 1997, the Rady Center has served as the recreation heart of the Jewish community. However, it also serves the greater Winnipeg community as well. Many donors made that campus possible including much from the Rady family together.

Although 50 plus years might have separated Ernest and Evelyn Rady from Winnipeg, they never stopped their family connections with the city. He became a legend in an already legendary family. It is not difficult to imagine the family gift to the University of Manitoba might not create some new legends.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Oh Doughbuts Open Today

It took a lot longer to open than anyone imagined but Oh Doughnuts opens Monday, May 9 AM. The conversion of the former beauty shop at 326 Broadway took a lot longer to get right but according to the company website, they are ready to go.

This is one of a number of restaurant and coffee shop openings that have occurred in the downtown in recent months.

Broadway has always been one of the grand streets of Winnipeg so this well anticipated shop is likely to be well embraced.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MTS Sold To Bell Canada

MTS began in 1908 when the government bought up Bell operations in the province due to concerns over pricing of the product. As a Crown corporation, the utility eventually bought up all remaining telephone operations in Manitoba and was named Manitoba Telephone System in 1921. The service was the first to begin the 999 (later 911) emergency number in North America

From the 1950s to 2001, the head office for MTS was located on Empress across from Polo Park. It is now the Clarion Hotel and Original Pancake House. The head office located to the former Bank of Montreal regional headquarters on 333 Main Street where 1200 employees work at MTS Place. Total employees number 2,700.

MTS was at the forefront of innovation throughout the 1970s and 1980s with Telidon and Grassroots specializing in electronic services. The international services of MTS played a negative role in the 1988 provincial election when it was reported that MTX, a Saudi Arabian subsidiary lost $27 million. The NDP lost that election on a narrative of mismanaging into deficit several Crown corporations.

In the 1980s, MTS mobility and cellular services took off but both NDP and Progressive Conservatives pushed hard to extend MTS landlines across the province. Party lines still existed into the 1980s and 1990s and many communities pushed hard to get linked up. Despite warnings of the the cost and suggestions that cellular service might be the way to go with these communities, expansion went on pellmell till debt rose to hundreds of millions. Competition in long distance rates removed one area of unfettered profit. In five years, three of chief executives passed through the company.

By 1996 MTS had $800 million in debt and a need for $500 million to replace old equipment. All Canada was in the middle of a recession and revenue was drying up. In a controversial move, the Progressive Conservative government led by Gary Filmon privatized MTS. The new company was widely held at first but four years later 20% was held by Bell Canada and this led to $300 million of new investment. The new company went from Manitoba Telephone System to Manitoba Telecom Services. Nearly 40% of the workforce lost their jobs in the search for profitability.

The fast growing Internet saw MTS buy up a number of service providers including Escape Communications to become the dominant player in Manitoba. By 2003, the company became a majority force in every part of the telecom industry. They held 98% of local phones, 77% of long distance, 70% of cell phone service and 60% of Internet services. They also had a strong hand in security alarm systems. The next area they looked to enter big in was their innovative MTS TV which slowly began to expand in Winnipeg in 2003.

In a moment of triumph, MTS was awarded the naming rights to the new downtown arena in 2004 which in 2011 became home to the Winnipeg Jets.

The much fear privatization of MTS seemed to result in a strong private, independent and local company. Still, it was assumed by many this very strength also made it a takeover target by big players like Telus, Bell and Rogers. In 2004, MTS sought to forestall that by becoming more of a national player. They bought Allstream and their fiber optic system across Canada.

It soon became apparent that turning Allstream into the strong nation player MTS wanted was not in the cards. At every turn it seemed that entry to other areas of the Canadian market west or east would be expensive and not in the interest of the company. MTS faced major cellular competition but still retained 50% of the the market. In 2015, Allstream was sold and once again MTS became a takeover target.

It was announced this week that Bell will buy MTS for $3.6 billion. The details are sketchy still but the promise thus far is that Winnipeg will become the western headquarters for Bell and that hundreds of millions will be spent to upgrade infrastructure. To assuage the federal government in regards to competition, Bell has promised to sell Telus 1/3 of the combined company's wireless customers. Bell has said that their western operations will be headquartered in Winnipeg and cover 6,900 employees over four provinces and territories. It is unclear how many jobs will be in Winnipeg as there is likely to be a few added and a few lost.

Also unclear is how prices will be affected. Most critics suggest Winnipeg could see a rise of 40% in short order. It is also unclear how MTS TV will be affected as it moves to become Fibe TV. One thing that is clear is that it is the end of an era. It would be a shame to not ensure some guarantees on competition, jobs, investment and the headquarters.

Bell is a massive company that seems to go off the rails every 10 years to try and become a conglomerate and re-trenches with tail between its leg. The telecom user seems to suffer with price increases for their efforts. It is not wrong to ask how this deal will be good for Manitoba and the Canadian consumer.

Friday, April 22, 2016

RBC Bank Salutes Prince in Purple

Anyone driving downtown on Thursday would have noticed the RBC bank building and the Convention Centre looked a little different. It took a request from Virgin Radio but the two buildings lit up their exteriors with the purple that is associated with royalty and the artist Prince.

Earlier in the day Queen Elizabeth celebrated her 90th birthday and pop artist Prince died in his home in the Twin Cities.

Last night, the colour purple shone in Winnipeg and many places around the world.

Prince played in Winnipeg many times. The last time he told his audience to call the babysitter because it was going to be a late night. And it always was when he performed because he gave it his all.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Manitoba Election 2016

By any definition the NDP run in Manitoba has been unprecedented. Majority after majority with two different provincial leaders from 1999 on. Think about it. Some kids graduating this year have only known an NDP government in their lives.

The leadership of Gary Doer, a prolonged economic expansion, restored federal transfers and a pragmatic style of government kept unemployment low and deficit-free. It wasn't perfect but there was little for the Progressive Conservative to chip away at.  Long memories of the tough 1990s and the vote rigging scandal and uninspired campaigns chewed through PC leaders.

Gary Doer rode a popular wave with good instincts and a likeability factor that was not and has not been easily replicated. His decision to leave and become Ambassador to the United States was perfectly timed. He left of his own accord which is not the case for a many a politician.

The selection by the NDP of Greg Selinger as leader did achieve another majority for the NDP but at a cost. The promises made of not raising taxes and the adamant dismissal that they would ever do so has affected credibility and popularity.  The shocking rebellion of five senior cabinet ministers and the subsequent leadership race and purging of MLAs and staff afterward can only make an outside observer watch gape mouthed.

The last few years have been tumultuous for the NDP under Greg Selinger. The world-wide economic woes, spring flooding and loose spending habits have pushed surpluses into deficits with no end in sight. As with many governments, the provincial NDP have used spending to keep things moving along. The problem is that they don't seem to be able to stop the flow and continue to blame past governments for their demise. Meanwhile, they have used government ad spending to promote themselves and use slogans that make it difficult to distinguish between government and political party. It is hard not to compare the tactics Greg Selinger with that of Stephen Harper.

The Progressive Conservatives under Brian Pallister have had their share of knocks. In a leader-centric political landscape, the man charged with guiding the party out of the wilderness has been prone to awkward and even confounding statements. Part of this might have be a sense of humour but because many people don't have a sense of the man. As we have learned a little more over the present campaign is that Pallister has been bullied a young man. Tall, bad teeth, living on the edge of his community and too proud to tell even his parents that he didn't always have enough money, he has been and probably always will be a guy that is hard for people to know.

The Tory leader has a provincial as well as federal past that NDP have been gleeful to emphasize in terms negative campaigning. The problem for the NDP is that 17 years is a very long time to blame someone else for the woes your government had to deal with. One major misstep for the NDP was to blame Pallister and others for the death of children back in the 1990s at Children's Hospital. The parents of said children lashed out at using them for them political gain. Moreover, there was no link to the Conservatives for any of what happened at the hospital.

Where Pallister is weak is in disclosure. It is not his wealth that's the problem but that simple questions of where do you live and where were you during a provincial crisis have been met with evasion. In the end though, it is up to the people of Fort Whyte if their candidate lives in River Heights. And likewise, it is up to the overall electorate whether they think their representative should be around in a crisis. The evasion thus far shown has not dented PC support yet but like the former mayor of Winnipeg, it can catch up with you. For the mayor, the evasion in regards to Remembrance Day about where he was really did not play well to the public.

As for the rest of the Costa Rica story and Pallister, there is no evidence of a violation of laws. Still, it will be hard not to be more forthcoming in regards to all politicians in what they do and where they go in the future. The Panama Papers and massive tax fraud already occurring in Canada have made citizens believe there are rules for some and not for others.

This is what politics has become in the last years. It is neverending campaigning and spin, lots of negative advertising, creating a narrative about your opponent, using third party groups to attack and generally being disagreeable. It is cruel and mean spirited. People are lathered up because all they see is that bad and a heavy handed sale job on the rest.

The tit for tat of going over candidates by researching them right down to their birth records is just standard procedure. It is doesn't allow for any evolution though. For example, someone who might have had strong feelings about gay marriage might have a different view now. However, their old statements might be used to hammer them rather considering the journey they took to acceptance. Beware the person who keeps their views close to the vest but secretly seethes with intolerance.

In the months leading to April 19's vote, a lot of people seemed to park their choice with the provincial Liberal party. What seemed favourable conditions has quickly turned bad. Initial soft support due to the situation provincially and some carry over from Trudeau's victory has been offset with rookie leader Rana Bokhari's campaign thus far. Shortly after winning the leadership, the Liberals started fighting as they seem prone to do almost every time. Any hope of putting that behind has been undermined by a spotty campaign since. One can simply not save they don't know if they filed taxes and not have people raise eyebrows.

I continue to be a member of the Liberal party and have donated to both in the past year. Unlike other campaigns, I have not volunteered. This is not from any deep seated ambivalence but the amount of time and energy required to assist. Having said that, I'm not a disinterested party but I have no special insight into how things are organized, what policies were decided or how candidates chosen.

Suffice to say that Justin Trudeau's federal campaign has been textbook of how to do things right, the Rana Bokhari provincial campaign has been the opposite. A few intriguing policy ideas were ruined by some very bad ones. Poll numbers that had been good and now all over the place. A breakthrough might have been three maybe four seats. Now, it will to be retain a presence in the Legislature.

The Green leader has been confident and impressive. James Beddome has consolidated the control over the leadership and the campaign has been a good one. The biggest problem for the party is no organization on the ground to promote candidates, policies and brand. Association with the environment has been good but still leaves people wonder if they are solid in other areas.

All in all it has been an ugly election. There has been very little positive and a whole lot of negative. I voted in the advance poll. My area has been represented by the Progressive Conservative since 1981 and before re-distribution from 1969 and if you go back further, it might be all the way back to the 1950s. In short, it never changes. For the last several elections, the provincial Liberals have been third place behind the NDP who parachute someone in to run most of the time. I've not seen one Liberal sign. I've seen a rare NDP sign and I thought I saw a Green sign but that's it.

I voted Liberal. I don't think of it as wasted. My vote comes from where I stand on the political spectrum. Am I happy? Not really. This election has been painful to follow and disheartening. But I do want to support choice and having just a two party system would leave me not wanting to vote at all.

No one can really be proud about this election. No one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Canadian Brewhouse Now Open on Kenaston

There have been quite a few restaurants in the Linden Ridge Mall over the year. Wow Hospitality has tried everything from Italian to Mexican over many years but nothing has stuck. Meanwhile Asoyama across the lot from the location seems to have staying power.

Given the growing population of south Winnipeg and the huge boom around IKEA, it seems a natural that a number of restaurants would congregate in the area. The Pancake House has opened in recent months in the parking lot next to the Odeon VIP Theatre. A Montana's opened in the IKEA parking lot.

A number of Winnipeggers though have been asking: Do we get something new that hasn't been here before? The answer is yes.

The Canadian Brewhouse has opened in the old Los Chicos location this past month. The Alberta-based sports bar and restaurant has never had a location in Manitoba before. A combination of burgers, wraps and pizza seems to be the winning formula for this grill.

Despite the fact that no Canadian hockey team is in the play-offs, Canadians still seem to want to go to sports bars and the Canadian Brewhouse is filled with TVs covering the games.

Let's see if this is the restaurant to stick at that location in the Linden Ridge Mall.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Goodlife Fitness Coming to Brandon

Safeway Brandon Shoppers Mall
Safeway closed their store in Brandon Shoppers Mall on 18th Street in 2014 and it has remained empty since then. Well, no more. It has been announced this week that Brandon, Manitoba will get the first Goodlife Fitness in the city. It will be eighth and largest location of the national fitness club in Manitoba.

The closure by Sobey's, Safeway and Target has had many landlords scrambling across western Canada to find new tenants. Not all have found ready parties interested in jumping in right away.

For Brandon people, this will be a good opportunity to be part of a gym with national reach. No more drop in fees while in Winnipeg or elsewhere as it will be an extension of their home location. The national TV ads by Goodlife should already give people in the area brand awareness of the gym, if not is amenities.

As for Goodlife, Brandon will be an excellent location in that the city a growing community, the second largest city in the province and a regional hub. Brandon Shoppers Mall is akin to Polo Park in terms of importance in the city. The new Goodlife will employ around 40 people and open in 2017.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Grant Park Mall Update

Cambrian Credit Union beside Petro-Canada
The big news first is that the Grant Park Mall will see Canadian Tire open on July 1st. It will take over a good large chunk of the former Target, former Zellers, former Walmart, former Woolco. With any luck, this will be the last anchor store that spot has for many years to come. The store will be 86,000 square feet leaving 34,000 square feet left to occupy.

There is still a vacancy on the east side of the Canadian Tire and I was to hazard a guess, it would be ideal for a dollar store.

Inside the mall, Menchie's has opened up across from Autumbee's Pizza. That entire end of the mall should benefit when the Canadian Tire entrance once again opens in summer. At the Co-Op Grocery store/Liquor Mart end, there are a few vacancies as well. Expect to hear more over the next weeks.

There is construction in the marking lot next to the Petro-Canada where a 5,800 square foot Cambrian Credit Union is being built. The location replaces the building at 735 Pembina Highway near the turn off for Stafford. There are presently 11 locations in Winnipeg and Selkirk. The CIBC inside the mall has been located there for 45 years.

Grant Park has always been a little bit more than some other malls. The movie theatre, McNally Robinson and a large liquor store bring in a consistent crowd. A few more key pieces and the years of work put into the mall should pay off.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Hilton Hotel Coming to Seasons of Tuxedo

Earlier this month Hilton Hotels put their plans before city council for a Hilton Hotel on the site of Seasons of Tuxedo adjacent to the Outlet Collection of Winnipeg mall presently under construction. The hotel will be visible alongside the Kenaston underpass and next to the Porsche and Audi dealerships also under construction.

This will be the only hotel south of the Assiniboine from Pembina Highway to the Perimeter. Quite simply for the business or leisure traveller, there has been nothing in southwest Winnipeg close to Kenaston's retail and business parks.

Hilton's plans are for a 6 storey, 127 room hotel occupying a 24,850 square footprint and total floor space of 86,565 square feet. The design appears to be Tyndal Stone, brick with a mix of colours. The best news for thirsty people in the area is that a beer vendor will also be built. The size will be 3,432 square feet.

This is not likely the last hotel we will see built near the IKEA. The area has been barren for the longest time confounding those people who would like to be near where they have business meetings or where they shop.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

H&M, Marshalls and HomeSense Coming to Kildonan Place

Tweeted by Jeff Browaty, City Councilor
The last empty Target space in Winnipeg is now spoken for. Kildonan Place presented plans to a community committee for a H&M, Marshalls and HomeSense yesterday to replace the space that has been empty since April of last year.

The closures of Target across Canada left landlords with a lot of empty space coast to coast. In the city of Winnipeg many of those spaces were picked up post haste. Grant Park Target is soon to be a Canadian Tire. Southdale Target has been converted to a Walmart. Polo Park Target is now owned by Polo Park but we have not seen what their plans for it are. And now last, Kildonan Place will be see three new stores.

H&M has taken off in Canada and done very well in their Polo Park location. It is easy to see why they thought a new location would be in order. Marshalls has expanded rapidly in Winnipeg but have been looking for a location in the east of the city for some time. And HomeSense as well has been ripe for another store.

The economy may still be doing stuttersteps to recovery but at least in the city of Winnipeg the empty spaces left by massive Target won't be left unfilled for much longer.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Thom Bargen Downtown Opens

It looks like after months of renovations that Thom Bargen Downtown has opened at 250 Kennedy Street. Two years after successfully opening on Sherbrook and being part of a rejuvenated Wolsley, the popular coffee house has taken over an optical store kitty corner to Starbucks . This is not a bad thing for either quite honestly. People attract other people and this growth seems organic as a few places have opened and there appears to be a desire to connect. Perhaps in a wired world, the street has a new appeal.

Community restoration goes building by building, street by street. Sometimes there are a few stumbles but it would seem that there is some steady progress in a few key areas of the downtown that are undeniable.

Thom Bargen is likely to a very welcome addition to the downtown area.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Danier Leather Closing

People from Winnipeg of a certain age remember fur stores all over the city. A lady at the symphony would have the latest fur and at the end of the season, it would be stored often at the same story it was bought from. By the late 1970s though the innovations in type of material used in winter coats and attitudes towards furs erased a part of that Winnipeg history.

And so it seems with leather in terms of outer wear. Puffy coats like Canada Goose or of the snowmobile variety or team sport variety have crushed leather sales. Weather played a factor too. Colder winters meant the company a few years ago did not have warm enough clothing. Appeals to younger shoppers failed and alienated older shoppers. What could go wrong did go wrong.

Danier Leather went insolvent and with it go over 1000 retail jobs in Canada and 84 stores. For Winnipeg it means the loss of four stores in high traffic areas such as Polo Park and St. Vital. Deep discounts to clear the stock have already begun and will continue until they are selling shelving and fixtures.

The retail landscape is littered with companies that have faltered and not kept up with consumer demand. In this case, leather itself appears to be the problem.

The choice locations of Danier in Winnipeg will likely be picked up in short order but there are still spaces even now that landlords have not filled.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Polo Park Number 16 Mall in Canada

In 2014, Polo Park ranked at number 14 in Canada for sales in Canada. major upgrades at several malls across Canada have pushed the mall back two places for 2015.

There is little doubt that Sears is hurting Polo Park's standings although sales did increase in the year overall in the mall. If Sears does decide to quit Polo Park, it is expected sales will leap in Winnipeg's biggest shopping area.

List for 2015

1. Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,610
2. CF Pacific Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1599
3. Oakridge Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,537
4. CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,509
5. Southgate Centre, Edmonton, AB: $1,215
6. CF Chinook Centre, Calgary, AB: $1,119
7. Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto, ON: $1,096
8. CF Rideau Centre, Ottawa, ON: $1,018
9. Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, BC: $1,008
10. Square One Shopping Centre, Mississauga ON: $994
11. CF Sherway Gardens, Toronto, ON: $965
12: CF Market Mall, Calgary, AB: $961   
13: CF Richmond Centre, Richmond, BC: $928
14: CF Fairview Mall, Toronto, ON: $913
15: CF Carrefour Laval, Laval QC: $888
16: CF Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB: $886
17: CF Masonville Place, London, ON: $855
18: Holt Renfrew Centre, Toronto, ON: $828
19: Mapleview Centre, Burlington ON: $823
20: Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, ON: $816
21: Peter Pond Mall, Ft. McMurray, AB: $804
22: Complex Les Ailes, Montreal QC: $790
23: Scarborough Town Centre, Toronto, ON: $790
24: Conestoga Mall, Waterloo, ON: $786
25: Halifax Shopping Centre, Halifax, NS: $783

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lucky Supermarket Coming to Maples

Former IGA across from Maples Collegiate
One of the causalities of the Safeway and Sobey's merge was the IGA on Jefferson Avenue across from Maples Collegiate. It was closed in 2014 and has remained shut since then. It will be now the location of the second Lucky Supermarket, an Asian food store.

Lucky Supermarket first opened a 32,000 square foot store in Winnipeg in 2010 and has done well in the market.

The closing of several stores by the big players in mergers has left the market open to others who might have a different approach. There were some justifiable fears that some the sore closures might leave retail holes not just for years but for several years. In locations outside of Winnipeg that might very well still be the case. However, inside the city, new players like Save-On Foods and Co-Op stores have grabbed old grocery locations and are running with them.

The 26,000 square foot Jefferson location of Lucky is in the middle of a residential neighbourhood with a good portion of Asian heritage residents living nearby. A typical store sells around 40% of what you would find in any grocery store in Canada. The rest is a combination of Chinese, Philippines, Vietnamese and other fare from the Pacific.

The new store will employ around 100 people which is welcome in this rather tumultuous time in the Canadian economy.

Monday, February 22, 2016

TV Changes in Manitoba...What does "skinny" mean?

The CRTC has set a deadline of March 1st, 2016 for changes to cable.

The regulatory body for Canada has mandated a new "skinny package" of basic cable for $25. It would include the local stations, provincial education stations and national stations. In short, that is the CBC, CTV, Global. City, access TV, weather and most likely APTN, YTV, a news service and some American channels.

So far only Shaw has released their skinny package despite warnings from the the government that telecoms must promote the service.

Shaw will have a mix of 44 channels, some HD and some standard definition.

There is a catch. If you want to watch any high definition, you need to rent a box at $5 a month of $138 outright. Want to record anything, it doubles to $10 and more to buy the box outright.

Skinny includes NO sports channels.

Their packages start at $6 a month. If you select two of them, it is already at the price of Shaw's Personal TV package which offers a greater selection at pretty much the same price.

Will their be customers of the skinny package? Most likely. If you have no interest in high definition, not recording stuff, don't like sports and watch TV on an older TV with a picture tube, this package is for you.

Will a $25 service attract the people who cut the cord to television? Probably not. Those people will watch, if they watch, downloads both legal and illegal and mostly subscribe to Netflix (and U.S. Netflix at that). The only reason some of these people have cable is to watch live sports which may be harder to get via other means or is of poorer quality.

Zero dollars is better than any dollars for those who want their content free. It is hard to convince people that it is wrong or comparable to going into a grocery store and walking out with whatever you want and not paying.

So far MTS has not revealed their skinny package.

These changes won't save the telecoms, local TV or borderline channels. A revolution is taking place and Canada and the rest of the world are likely to see wholesale collapse of parts of the industry in due course. It remains to be seem how content will be produced and be profitable under any plan thus revealed.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Charleswood Seniors Multi-Unit Housing Denied

Once again the plans for a seniors residence on church owned land has been shot down. This time it is by the city planning department whose rejection only seems to inspire confusion.

Not every development project has to be approved. However, every development needs a clear consistent policy set out by the city. In some cases some vocal proponents and opponents will make it very difficult to come to a decision that doesn't make someone want to duck and cover.

I originally looked at the project when it was proposed and thought it satisfied a need in the community and wasn't overly burdensome to the homes and streets surrounding.  The zoning meeting proved that there was a lot of controversy. Some of it came from those that didn't want to change the character of Charleswood.

It is a rather nebulous argument sometimes because it feels like someone closing the door after they themselves are inside.

The future needs of Charleswood are hard to deny. Many senior residents will find it hard to buy or even rent a place in the area if they sell their homes. It is true that that there are some personal care home homes, rental apartments and condos in the community but many are situated many blocks from where residents live now. Often, there are no places that are between house and personal care home.

The land behind the Charleswood United Church seems appropriate for seniors housing. It hardly looks like a location for massive amounts of traffic. At the moment, it seems that the winning idea for that land is do nothing.

In River Heights there was a fight over the railway land running north and south called Oakbank Line. The neighbourhood since the 1980s fought every single use of the land including the innocuous bike path. Today it is condos stretched all the way down the line. Residents must wonder now if the bike path was such a bad idea afterall.

At some point there will be something done with the land in Charlewood. Perhaps later on people will think a seniors residence on the site was a lost opportunity.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Andrenaline Unlimited Takes Over River City Sports Location

The retrenching of River City Sports to its original location and liquidation of stock from other stores is a reminder how fickle retail can be. The expansion to the IKEA site on Sterling Lyon last only 18 months.  The Seasons Of Tuxedo retail development slowed on the north side once the Cabela's was up. Last year the Seasons rental apartments as well as Montana's restaurant opened. However, the promise of a Lowe's never came and further expansion of other stores stalled.

River City Sports was a bit early into the development as not enough traffic was coming to the retail beside IKEA. Hard to know what the future is for a once dominant sports store but we can happily report a different sports store has taken up the challenge and opened just before Christmas in the old location.

The new store is another Winnipeg sporting good group with locations in Edmonton and Saskatoon as well as in St. Vital Mall under the FXR Riders. The specialty retailer sells snowmobile clothing and helmets as well as other items in what is described as power sport. The new location at Seasons of Tuxedo called Adrenaline Unlimited will feature FXR brand as well as KTM which is a supplier of for offroad bikes.

It seems likely that Adrenaline Unlimited has a specialty in sport that is not as easily duplicated by other big sports stores. In other words, it is likely to be a destination store in the way IKEA and Cabela's are in their fields.

The Outlets of Seasons continues construction across the street and new condos and apartments in the area ensure that there will be a larger population in the area to sustain additional businesses in proximity. The entire Sterling Lyon and Kenaston area is very close to the synergy that shopping districts like Polo Park and St. Vital have.

It is possible that Adrenaline Unlimited is just the right specialty retailer to make that location work.