Monday, May 18, 2015

Fools and Horses on Broadway Now Open

It took a while to get constructed but the Horses and Fools coffee house finally opened on the long weekend. It fills a long vacant spot at 379 Broadway that used to have a MoneyMart. The proximity to government offices and other office towers as well as newly expanding RBC Winnipeg Convention Centre probably will help this business find success. The growing residential community along Assiniboine in the shape of condos and apartments will likely find this window filled establishment a great meeting place.

There has always been a good lunch crowd on the busy Broadway.  A few choice restaurants such as Amici's and restaurants in the Fort Garry Hotel and Place satisfy more refined tastes. There are Starbucks, Tim's, Subway, The Fixx Express Bar and Cafe 22 for the many people who work Winnipeg's most pedestrian friendly neighbourhood.

In January, Nicks on Broadway moved into the old location of SelFISH sushi restaurant at 287 Broadway. The sandwich place is just down the street from the Fort Garry Hotel.

The vitality of the Broadway area has always been strong with only a few parking lots that front the street and a few unforgiving buildings that offer no real street presence. The ability to sit and enjoy the tree lined avenue has been one of the main strengths.

Fools and Horses with a window happy sit and enjoy the world walk by atmosphere should help the western leg of Broadway. It is difficult to know just how much the Convention Centre crossing York and occupying a surface lot will change things. However, if we look at what happened the original 1970s construction, it created a lot of surrounding activity including long lasting restaurants.

The need to be able connect various vital areas of the city together will only enhance the success of those places.  So a big welcome to Fools and Horses and a belated one to Nicks on Broadway.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blue Bomber Store Grand Opening Polo Park

Polo Park Store Near Starbucks
Seemed like a no brainer that with Grey Cup this year that the Blue Bombers should have a store beside what they have at Investor's Group Field. For a time before moving to the south of Winnipeg the Bombers had a fair sized store in St. Vital Centre. The ended with the team moving south.

It seemed natural that having a store in the Polo park area to replace the stadium store would happen. Alas, it didn't. As the Jets will tell you, marketing can help the bottom line and if merchandise is sold by the team it can be tied to all sorts of promotions.

The Winnipeg Jets used to have a good store in Polo Park in the 1990s. Sadly, the revenue earned there was no substitute for a salary cap and owning your own building. Not to mention a high Canadian dollar.

On May 23, the grand opening takes place for Polo Park Bomber store. It is set up to stay there until December upon which time they will re-evaluate.

Every year I get drawn in by the Blue Bombers. It has been a long time since we have been able to see them challenge for and win the Grey Cup. Hopefully a hometown team is all dressed in their best Bomber clothes to see a victory.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Polo Park 13th Most Productive Mall in Canada

The old Polo Park sign and sundial
Polo Park is the hands down biggest and most popular mall in Winnipeg. None compares in size in the province. But how does it stack up nation-wide?

Well, according to latest figures quite high.

1) Pacific Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,498
2) Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,420
3) Oakridge Shopping Centre, Vancouver, BC: $1,395
4) Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Toronto, ON: $1,356
5) Southgate Shopping Centre, Edmonton, AB: $1,157
6) Chinook Centre, Calgary, AB: $1,125
7) Rideau Centre, Ottawa, ON: $1,008
8) Holt Renfrew Centre, Toronto, ON: "over $1,000" says landlord.
9) Market Mall, Calgary, AB: $942
10) Sherway Gardens, Toronto, ON: $935
11) Square One, Mississauga, ON: $910
12) Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, BC: $886
13) Polo Park, Winnipeg, MB: $873
14) Peter Pond Mall, Ft. McMurray, AB: $870
15) Le Carrefour Laval, Laval, QC: $865
16) Fairview Mall, Toronto, ON: $843
17) Richmond Centre, Richmond, BC: $833
18) Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto ON: $820
19) Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, ON: $818
20) Bayview Village, Toronto, ON: $810

Most of the above malls have done multimillion renovations to enhance sales per square footage including Polo Park that is still putting the finishing touches on the second floor improvements within the old Zellers location.

Old Polo Park
 The exclusive stores for certain malls really helps the bottom line. For example, Polo Park having the only Apple store is enormous. Many Apple stores in Canada rack up $50 million is sales with only 5000 square feet!

Sears continues to drag down sales in many malls across Canada including Polo Park. Can the big retailer turn things around? Hard to say. However, it is very likely if they don't there are many who would gladly take over the space or at least part of it.

It would be interesting to see where St. Vital Mall stands in all of this. I suspect that it has too many stores with far lower sales volumes to ever challenge Polo Park. It has also has less room for growth unless they ever take possession of the Sears store or a few other parts of the building. One has to wonder if 20 plus stores in the Sears space would be better for that mall.

What is next for Polo Park? Well, fill the last spaces and shuffling a few more retailers around and come the next months perhaps the biggest sales in the mall's history now that renovations are nearly done. The only big question? Is Sears going to be part of those plans?

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Defunct Video Stores of Winnipeg

Music Traders became home to Movie Village after it closed
The first video rental store in North America came in 1977 in Los Angeles when 20th Century Fox was in financial trouble. Despite the blockbuster Star Wars released in the same year, some studios were bleeding money because of older and decaying movie theatres and audiences who were turning to TV in greater numbers. To combat this at the behest of Magnetic Video, 20th Century Fox released 50 older films for the Betamax and VHS rental market.

This was not a cheap form of entertainment. In 1977, JVC introduced the first VCR for home use which included the ability to record for 2 hours. The cost was just under $1500. In today's dollars, it would be like a family spending $5500. Sony's Betamax released in 1975 was also priced in the $1500 range. The early movies available like Bridge on the River Kwai and Butch Cassidy had to ordered from a catalogue and were not inexpensive. Blank tapes were $20 or over $70 in today's dollars and movie tapes were $50 to $100 each which in today's dollars meant movies started at over $150 and up!

It is easy to see why the rental market for videos was the way to go. It was very expensive for the early adopters. I remember seeing a Betamax machine in 1979 at a friend's house. It was a huge box and worth a down payment on a home during those years. And that is no exaggeration. I recall not being impressed by the movies. None were new and I was not familiar with Hello, Dolly! or The King and I except seeing them at Rainbow Stage. Like a lot of people at the time, I longed for Star Wars.

In my house we only got cable and a colour TV a few years earlier.  Videon arrived in Winnipeg on the west side of the Red River in 1968. We had a black and white TV at the time. The screen wasn't huge but the cabinetry around it was. Cable even at $5 a month was a lot for my family so we didn't pick it up until late 1971. We only got a colour TV in 1973. It was only a year earlier that pretty much all prime TV from the U.S. was broadcast in colour.

My family would not be the first to get a VCR. However, the availability of videos and places to rent them sort of reached a critical mass around 1981. It was Christmas that year and in 1982 that many people got as a family gift, a VCR. For my family it was 1982 and for me the main reason was so I could see Star Wars which was being made available for the first time as a rental.

It was in 1981 or 1982 that the first video rental place in my neighbourhood on Academy Road near Lanark Street opened. The store was inside what used to be a sporting good store owned by present Royal Sports owners.

Video Zone on Academy Road had one wall of Beta tapes and the other wall had VHS. For some time, I believe you could even rent a Betamax to watch your rented video. Not sure when Adi's arrived on Academy Road but I thought a year or two later. Multiples of certain video stores started to arrive until there was well over a hundred and perhaps just under 200 store renting videos if you eventually included adult and 7/11 stores.

I am going to list as many of the defunct video stores by the street and cross street as I can. I am not going to remember all of them at all so will require assistance from you the trusted reader! Any details on the store will be appreciated as well. Expect this to be updated often.

Academy Road:

Video Zone: Lanark Street. Early arrival to the video rental business.
Adi's Video: Oak Street, one of a number Adi's.


Windsor Video: 1069 Autumnwood 


SIR Video: Later Rogers Video

Corydon Avenue:

Just New Releases: Lanark Street at Corydon Village Mall
Adi's Video: Tuxedo Village Mall


Bill's Home Video: At Meadowood. Now a Liqour Mart across from St. Vital Centre 


Goulet Viideo: 145 a Goodwill.

Grant Avenue:

Jumbo Video: Kenaston Village Mall which was replaced by a Rogers Video.
Rogers Video: Kenaston Village Mall across from Superstore at Grant
Blockbuster Video: Grant Park Shopping Mall
Blockbuster Video: Charleswood Shopping Mall

Henderson Highway:

Adi's Video: At Martin Street


Jumbo Video: Later Blockbuster Video at 12 Lakewood
Country Video: 35 Lakewood Southdate a Pet Valu. 


Movie Village: Rosyln Road. Huge selection and one of the longest lasting at that location before moving next door to Music Traders

Blockbuster Video: a Snap Fitness.


St. Boniface Video: Beside Hair Passion 


Rogers Video - McLeod between Gateway and London


The Video Superstore (TVS): Later best Sleep Centre
Video Den
Adi's Video
Portage Avenue:

Movie Gallery: Garfield Street. Now Gooch's Bike Shop

Roblin Boulevard:

Rogers Video: Charleswood Square at Dieppe Road
Pick-A-Flick: Between Sparrow and Dale...later to Forest Park Mall (Charleswood Mall)
Video Den: Sparrow and Dale strip mall after Pick-A-Flick

Springfield Road

Pick-A-Flick - Springfield and Raleigh
Blockbuster - Springfield and Henderson

St. Mary's Road

Bill's Video - Across from Tim Horton's  


Adi's Video: 414 Westmount 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Walmart to Take Over Southdale Target

Another Target location in Winnipeg has been snapped up. This time it is the Southdale location and the buyer is Walmart.

There was a lot of speculation about who would buy the location and probably even a few who thought it would sit empty or might have to be sub-divided. In the end though Walmart bought the location with a mind to tying up even more market share in Winnipeg.

Canadian Tire takes over Grant Park location and Walmart takes over Southdale. The only thing left in Winnipeg is Kildonan Place and Polo Park and no doubt there are still players left looking at those locations.

It would seem some retailers are ensuring no other competitor enters the market on wide-scale and they are filling gaps in their store geographies. Expect more announcements soon.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Canadian Tire to Take Over Grant Park Target Location

It was not unexpected. Canadian Tire is taking over a number of leases of old Targets across Canada. In Winnipeg there was really only one location that made sense and that was Grant Park Mall. All of the other Targets simply had a Canadian Tire already very close by as was mentioned on this blog.

Target did a fair sized expansion and work inside the Grant Park location before they moved in. Canadian Tire could benefit from the bigger footprint the store has now. To suit the needs of automotive repair, work will need to be done on the east side of the building.

Millions of dollars of improvements have been done on the Grant Park Mall over the last three years. Much of this had been triggered by Target's arrival. The Liquor Mart and Shppper's Drug mart all invested heavily and many other changes took place in the mall as well including movie theatre renovations. Like many landlords, Grant Park was probably stunned at how poor a performer Target was and how they quit the country two years after coming.

It will all work out in the end. Canadian Tire coming to Grant Park Mall makes more sense than almost any other retailer. The Canadian owned store has managed to be profitable even with big U.S. outfits moving in. Canadian Tire Polo Park is successful as is the Kenaston Canadian Tire. If anything the Grant Park location fills a geographic gap for shoppers looking for automotive stuff, sporting good, some small do it yourself items and the whole other range of products the store carries

There were complaints by some that the old Zellers locations were poor places for Target to succeed. Maybe so but Walmart started out at Grant Park in 1994 and used it as a springboard to Kenaston in 2000. I was excited as anyone when Target came. As with most, I was familiar with their brand from shopping in the States. We really never got what we saw in the States. And Canadians were told not to expect it either. Target Canada was specific to this market and was competing against Superstore and Walmart. In that they failed as well in terms of price, selection and keeping the shelves stocked. Business schools will be writing about Target's failure for years to come. Instead, the carcass will be picked over by others such as Canadian Tire.

It is hard to say how long it will take Canadian Tire to set up shop at Grant Park. It really depends on how many they have to shape it to the store needs. At the very least it stands to reason that six months is not unreasonable but it could be early 2016 before the store is ready.

This won't be the last announcement of what happens with old Target locations. Polo Park remains very attractive to several parties. Southdale might have more troubles but we'll see. I suspect the Target on Regent might have a few interested in it as well. All in all though, we have seen troubled retailers like Blockbuster, Linens and Things And Sears all have their properties snapped up. Add Zellers to the mix when Target took over their leases.

Grant Park Mall has probably found the perfect large size store after so long. What's more is that after their extensive renovations, they are well positioned to capture more of the market in the dense area around Grant Park.