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.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Filipino Store Seafood City Coming to Winnipeg

Seafood City, a San Diego-based Filipino food store has announced they will be opening in Mississauga this year. It will be their first location in Canada. The 1989 established company has 23 locations presently with 20 in California thus far and feature seafood, meat and specialty goods aimed at the Filipino market. The locations often have travel and immigration services inside as well.

Winnipeg ranks as the third largest Filipino community in Canada and analysts indicated that Seafood City is very likely to announce expansion in the west soon. Vancouver and Winnipeg were top of the lists.

In many Seafood City are Jollibee restaurants. Jollibee has already indicated a desire to come to Winnipeg but have had difficulty finding ideal locations. It is very likely in the food store comes, the restaurant chain comes as well. Jollibee is more popular than McDonald's back in Asia. There is also a possibility that Seafood City will feature red Ribbon bakery and Maxim's, a breakfast place.

Stay tuned for more of this.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Lowe's to Buy Rona in Friendly Deal

The Kenaston Lowe's Cancelled?
There was an announcement today that the number 2 home improvement company in the U.S. Lowe's is making a friendly purchase of Rona in Canada for $3.2 billion. This is a familiar story as this courtship has been attempted before sometimes with the government of Quebec stepping in and saying no.

Rona is different than Lowe's in that it has large corporate stores as well as very small dealer stores. It would appear that an offer was made that has satisfied both the corporation and government of Quebec. The cash offer is double the company and it appears that the Rona brand or style will be disappearing in the immediate future.

 Last year Lowe's announced they were building a store at Linden Ridge Shopping Centre. It is difficult to say how far along that process construction has began or whether that job will now be cancelled.

Manitoba, unlike every province in the west, has no Lowe's yet. It would seem odd if the one store planned might be built just down the street from their latest acquisition. Lowe's has 42 stores in Canada and it is certain that there will be more but details of how the combined Quebec-based corporation operates remains uncertain. It could be that Manitoba may not see for the Lowe's format for some time to come.

The low Canadian dollar makes it possible for other U.S. retailers to expand into Canada and build their networks. However, it always makes it difficult for them sent profits back. Still, if the goal is to be around for the long haul, the investment can pay off very nicely with an operation that produces returns for decades to come. Rona looks to be that type of investment for Lowe's.