Sunday, March 20, 2011

Forever 21 Open in Winnipeg

One of my posts consistently sees traffic. It is the one where I talked about Forever 21 coming to Winnipeg months ago. It continues to see traffic now. As many with young kids know, the store finally opened on March 12 in Polo Park. At 38,000 feet, it is the largest of the chain's Canadian stores and only slightly smaller than its largest U.S. cousin. For Polo Park, the store's arrival has been a Godsend in that it must have seemed daunting about how they were going to fill Safeway's space after the store de-camped to Madison Square.

The store's early morning opening drew the largest crowd in Polo Park's history. Hundreds and hundreds lined up to get into the store.

Now, to be clear, Forever 21 is just a store. It isn't the second coming. However, like Ikea, Forever 21 is a highly sought out store by shoppers. It becomes a "destination" store capable of attracting people from a larger region than just the city where the store is located.

This should not be a mystery to anyone about how this happens. Most people know that when Upper Fort Garry was set up, it became a destination for trade.

And yet some who works in the halls of power seem mystified about this and other stores that can draw a crowd. We can't rely strictly on mall managers to seek out top retailers or restaurants to set up shop in the city. It is a business like any other and development agencies within the province should be going to them and making a case for their opening a store in the city. In this it is no different than when the agencies seeks out manufacturers or head offices to locate to the city and province.

Cabela's started off as a purchase of S.I.R. in Winnipeg. It is now the head office, warehouse and first store for the company in Canada.

Winnipeg has not been all to successful attracting head offices or big manufacturers in the last years. Or if they have, it certainly has been below the radar.

City and provincial officials should be making a shopping list of restaurants and stores and seek to bring them to to city. Menards would be a good start. To that end, they should find people who don't look bewildered when you say Forever 21.

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Alyson said...

I haven't been there yet, but honestly I am thrilled about it.

Yes it's a retail store, and I am a girl, but I like seeing that the flagship store is here (same with the eventual IKEA). It says a lot about Winnipeg and the future that people see for it.

One Man Committee said...

The problem with seeking out "hot" retail and restaurant chains is that by the time we get them, their time as a novelty is almost up.

It seems that nearly every major chain follows the same Canadian expansion path: the major markets, then the middle markets (i.e., us) then everybody else.

Forever 21 is a good example - Toronto has had a location for several years, and cities larger than us have had them for a while too. But you can bet it won't be long before they open outlets in places like Regina now that we have one, and I suspect that by that point the novelty will be wearing pretty thin.