The old Target closed in 2001 in favour of the SuperTarget across the street on 32nd Avenue South. And thereafter, it has sat empty. The four screen movie theatre and Office Depot were also shut and that side of the mall became a sad reminder of how vital that area had been.
The mall built a new Sears in 2000 when the old location at the South Forks Plaza closed.
Columbia has been a favourite of Canadians since 1978 when it opened. However, the closure of the Target was a major hit. Not even the the 2005 renovation that added a 430 seat food court was enough to undo the fact that one part of the mall ended in a dead end.
For more and more people, the trip farther south to Fargo and then again to Albertville and Minneapolis too. For many people, West Acres in Fargo and the surrounding retail area has been sufficient attraction for many people to bypass Grand Forks.
Despite the attractions of a Super Walmart and a SuperTarget as well as the Grand Forks Marketplace across the street from Columbia Mall that has Kohl's, Best Buy, Lowe's Home Improvement, Ashely Furniture, Gorman's and Old Navy ... it still didn't match the heyday when Grand Forks was the destination to go for Winnipeg shoppers.
Well, the days of the empty and blocked off Target store will be coming to an end next year. In 2014, Scheel's Sports will be opening a 120,000 square foot location at Columbia. It will coincide with the closure coming at the end of their lease at their Columbia Road location across from the hospital.
The giant location of Scheels won't be the same size as Fargo's world beater 200,000 square foot and two floor colossus but it will very big and roughly double the employees. It won't have a Ferris wheel but it is likely to have the shooting simulators plus a large selection of stock.
The arrival of Scheels's will likely kickstart the mall a great deal. Interest by movie theatre companies and other retailers will be piqued.
And a revived Columbia Mall will make more Winnipeg travellers south stick.
Now...I wonder if we can ever get Scheel's here in Winnipeg. We get excited about a 17,000 square foot sports retailer opening up. Imagine something as big as a Scheel's.