Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Grant Park Shopping Mall

First it was Hanger's Fashion Warehouse closing and now it is Boutique la Femme closing. Lorenza Fashion is moving within the mall.

Is this all to accommodate Target as it takes over Zellers there?

The possible announcement of a movie theatre chain opening on the Ikea site could affect the Empire Theatre at Grant Park.

Speaking of theatres, the news nationally that IMAX will be building a digital system to be able to show 3D films. It remains to be seen how this affects the downtown Portage Place Imax Theatre.

In terms of the Grant Park Mall, the issue of remaining an enclosed mall will have to be looked at. It has some strong anchor tenants in McNally Robinson, Safeway and Target.

However, Target is certainly going to want a bigger location and the mall could certainly accommodate that but it might mean getting rid of the enclosed mall, theatre and restaurants.

Can this formula work? Well, it did for the Charleswood Centre Shopping Plaza. When Zellers left the mall to move ito Walmart's old location at Grant Park, the mall owners decided to do a stripmall box store format. They landed some good anchor stores and the last vacancy in the mall filled up in the last months. H&R Block opened in the space between Blockbuster and Sushi Park.

One development seems obvious and that is Grant Park is less likely to pull national and international retailers with its present set up of an enclosed mall. Now it seems that they are having a hard time holding on to local ones as well.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Coach Store Coming to Winnipeg

This was passed on from OMC who found the information.

Coach store will be opening in Polo Park in September of 2011.

Coach is a U.S. based store specializing in leather goods. Handbags, wallets, luggage and accessories are some of the products sold at this sought out retailer.

For some people, this will be another check in their list of retailers that they wanted to see in Winnipeg.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

The Flood Part 3

An aerial view of the Assiniboine River and the Brandon flood zone.

Even with the grave warnings about the flooding that might happen this year, the Selinger government can't seem to get proper information to people about where flooding might happen and how people can protect their homes.

The NDP knew that they would probably be judged on how they fought the flooding this year and they have been pulling out all the stops. Thankfully, after the 1997 flood, the U.S. and Canadian governments put together a thoughtful approach and directly confronted the challenges. With the information derived from that report and consultations between the Liberal and NDP government, plans were drawn up for combat the 1 in 700 year flood that could lay waste to the bulk of the land along the Red River Valley.

In 2005 work began and the the final touches ended just recently.

The Red River Valley has always included all the rivers, streams and tributaries that flow into the Red. Some columnists in some newspapers have praised the sober discussion taking place now. That might be all well and good but the truth of the matter is that western Manitoba was an afterthought in flood preparations this year.

There has certainly been millions spent on raising dikes from Portage la Prairie to Headingley but it has always been geared to 1976 levels which was a much lower threshold than the work done on the Red River Floodway.

There will be grief and anger as the torrents of water will be released in the next hours. The government will be judged in three ways: What they did to prepare, what they did to manage things as it happened and what they are prepared to do afterward.

The NDP government is likely terrified that the flood could very well be in people's minds next October when the provincial vote happens. After more than a decade in power, it will be hard to blame others if things are perceived to be handled poorly.

One thing is quite clear: While western Manitoba has rural and conservative roots and a can do spirit, they have been looking for guidance from government. In fact, they have been begging for direction, information and a plan. So far it has been hard to watch people desperate for help not know what is happening and not sure what to do.

My thoughts are with the people in western Manitoba. Let's hope that the region overcomes the challenges in the days and weeks ahead.

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Ultimate Dog Tease

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Blockbuster Video

We recently saw Blockbuster Video in the Osborne Village close down. It has been something happening across North America although at a slower pace in Canada than the U.S.

Now, we hear that Blockbuster in Canada is being forced into bankruptcy due to missed payments from the parent company. The Canadian operations were used to help finance the U.S. ones. We have seen this type of issue before where Canada's operations were doing better and then the U.S. went under and took the Canadian part of the company down too. Linens and Things Canada was profitable but the U.S. closed the while company including in Canada rather than spin off the division.

I have mentioned the problems for Blockbuster here before. However, their situation in Canada has not been as dire. This is in part due to our slower Internet and that companies such as Rogers and Shaw who are determined to make companies like Netflix super expensive by extra billing if you download high def Titanic from them.

Shaw, Rogers and the other Internet providers are acting in their self interest by pricing their video on demand services at the forefront and pricing everyone else's out of reach.

The advent of video kiosks also has had an impact on Blockbuster. Safeway stores in Winnipeg have them. However, I have found they don't carry a large selection and not as convenient to return since you actually have to enter the store to put the video back in the kiosk. Perhaps if there were a lot more and a large selection, this would be a good option. As it is, it isn't as an attractive option for people who shop once a week at the store.

In recent months, the greed of the Internet providers and the inconvenience and lack of selection of the kiosks has made me appreciate Blockbuster a lot more.

It remains to be seen what the chosen delivery system for entertainment will be. The Internet providers want it to be video on demand but their ever greater gouging turns people off and makes stores like Blockbuster a good option.

It is funny how I think my options for watching a movie at home have become more limited rather the other way around.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hangers Fashion Warehouse Closing After 22 Years

Hangers Fashion Warehouse Location at Grant Park Shopping Mall

After 22 years in business, Hangers Fashion Warehouse is closing their four remaining locations in the city of Winnipeg and Steinbach.

They are:

Portage Place
Northgate Shopping Centre
Grant Park Shopping Mall

And in Steinbach:

Clearspring Shopping Centre

The owner of the company is retiring and it looks like no one was left to take over.

The Grant Park Mall location of the store only opened in July of 2010.

I never shopped there personally but recall a joke that could only be told in Winnipeg:

My mother applied for a job at Hooters. They gave her a job application for Hangers.

Sorry to see a long time Winnipeg store close.

One wonders what Portage Place and Grant Park Shopping Mall will find to replace these stores.

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Aeropostale Opening in Winnipeg

For those doing their regular shopping at the Children's Hospital Book Sale, you will notice at St. Vital Shopping Centre that construction is well underway on Winnipeg's first Aeropostale store.

The popular clothing store has been on the wish list for many shoppers for a few years.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Election Aftermath

My predictions were off aside from a close guess what the Liberals would end up with in Quebec. I really couldn't tell how Quebec would end up aside from the fact the damage would be done to the Bloc. I believe that even Quebecers must be a little shocked that the BQ has fallen below official party status.

The NDP swept through Quebec. Even Tory cabinet ministers went down in defeat the NDP. I had thought as little as a few weeks ago that the Tories might win a few more seats in Quebec based on vote splits. However, as the Bloc went down so did the Liberals. The NDP benefited strongly and took seats that even they must be shocked about. The NDP even won with a candidate who may have never even visited the riding she won in. Yes, that's right. There is no evidence she has even been to her riding. Add to that, a handful of university students and a 19 year old.

It doesn't have to be bad for the NDP because of that but it probably means a huge learning curve. The newcomer MPs will find that it is a bit overwhelming coming to Ottawa, hiring staff, getting offices in both the riding and on The Hill and getting up to speed on job responsibilities.

The record on making huge gains in an election and not having them stick has some notable examples in Canadian history. The most recent is the ADQ in Quebec where Mario Dumont made a splash in the 2007 election only to be routed in 2008. The next best example is Bob Rae and the NDP majority government in Ontario from 1990 to 1995. The NDP is still hurting from those years. Last is the Liberals of Manitoba vaulting to Official Opposition in 1988. That status lasted two years as NDP targeted their ridings and regained second party status.

So...a majority Conservative government and an NDP Official Opposition, a very weak third party of Liberals, a handful of Bloc who don't qualify as a party and a breakthrough for Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

I expect the Tories will move to get some of their wish list completed early on in their mandate so that they can deliver more palatable and election-ready policies later on. The gun registry, crime legislation, Canadian Wheat Board, election financing laws and the like are all probably front and center. What comes after that is anyone's guess. The deficit can't be ignored forever and with four years till the next election, the Harper government will be watched carefully on that front.

Now, since I am a Liberal and identify with the center, I have to ask what the future of the party is now that the party has been crushed and the leader, Michael Ignatieff, has resigned.

Some say it is time to unite the left. One wonders if the NDP are thinking that now. At the moment, they are probably thinking of solidifying what they have now and taking another crack at it four years from now. Listening to some NDPers like Ed Broadbent, you get the feeling that they believe those people who voted Liberal will gravitate towards the NDP and the Tories. No need to court the Liberal party as an organization if the party simply dies and you pick up the supporters.

In any event, the first meeting of Liberal MPs and senators should be about two things. The first is: An interim leader. The second is: slow down.

In terms of the first, an interim leader should be selected for the House of Commons and who will not be running for the leadership of the party. I believe Ralph Goodale is that person if he decides to not run. If he does decide to run, the selection could be possibly two or three others including Justin Trudeau, who is rumoured not to be looking at a leadership run this time.

I am nervous about Trudeau being the interim leader but is guaranteed to draw lots of attention. One thing is certain, a major effort is needed to re-build Quebec and Trudeau has to be part of that equation.

In terms of the second thing that needs to be done in first meeting of Liberal MPs and senator is: Slow down.

Aside from the interim leader, the remaining issues should be slowed down so that people can absorb them, chew over them and then make rational choices later on.

In keeping with this idea of slowing down, I think a leadership convention should be put off till at least till 2012, maybe even 2013. The next federal election is October 19, 2015. Unless Harper decides to call a snap election before that date (and nothing really prevents him from doing so if he is prepared to take heat for it and he didn't the last time he did) then the Liberals have time to pay some debts and wait till after some provincial elections have past in Ontario and Manitoba.

The Liberal constitution says that a leadership convention must be held five months after a leader resigns and when an interim leader is announced. That would be in September give or take if the decision was made this coming week. I have no idea if there is provisions within the constitution to make a change. It would appear that national directors will have to assess if there is any room to move in this area.

I think they must if they don't want candidates to simply not stand due to lack of finances.


Aside from the two things mentioned above, the Liberals over the next four years have to work strongly on these items.

1. Party head office. The election results, change in leader and smaller budget means leaner. Find some good people to work and volunteer. It may be worthwhile to set up a non-governmental organization that has no financing restrictions to be the brain trust of the party on provincial and federal Liberal matters. It could be where party polling is done, policy research and establishing future leaders. It would be arm's length from the party.

2. Policy Convention. The last two Liberal election campaign books have been fought on policies that don't seem to come from the members. While there were some good ideas there in the campaign, they obviously were not enough to win an election.

3. Fundraising. It has to be a priority. There was some progress under Rocco Rossi but that momentum seems to be lost. As mentioned, I think some major functions should be shunted to an NGO think tank.

More ideas to come...

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Election Prediction

I think vote splitting will be the rule of the day.

Here is my prediction:

Conservative: 176 seats
NDP: 85 seats
Liberal: 32 seats
Bloc: 13 seats
Green: 1 seat
Independent: 1 seat

Of course, the polling has been somewhat mystifying in its range. It really is hard to hard to sense how Quebec will go but the Bloc is under lots of pressure as are the Liberals.

Both parties might not survive.

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