Sunday, April 30, 2017

Defunct Pharmacies Drug Stores of Winnipeg

Academy Road, Snell's just beyond the Shell Station
One of the most popular posts I've ever written and which gets hundreds of people looking at it every month is my defunct restaurants of Winnipeg article. My list is far from from comprehensive but a good start when remembering long closed eating establishments in the city.  It is difficult to remember history when you're living it. The neighbourhood is just the neighbourhood and you don't often stop to write it down or take a picture of it. Photographs might exist in private albums but for the most part, you have to rely in faulty memory about what was where and when.

I have meant to write the post for a while and it is about all the small community pharmacies that were the lifeblood of everyone's lives until the superstore pharmacies that fill our megaplexes now. It seemed most drug stores were within walking distance and were as prevalent as the the small grocers.

I was raised in River Heights and was familiar with a few pharmacies in the 1970s and 1980s.  On Academy Road at Lanark where7th Avenue Fashions has stood for more than 25 years was Bassey's Pharmacy. It stood for decades and like a lot of drug stores sold everything from greeting cards to comic books. For a long time, there was a front and a back entrance and kids would enter from the back and head straight to the comics section.

Bassey's Pharmacy would later buy Snell's Pharmacy at Queenston and Academy Road. It was a little smaller and only had street parking but was closer to some local grocers like Tom Boy and a baker beside the Toronto Dominion Bank. The 7/Eleven would make its appearance in the 1970s on the spot of an old Safeway.

At the south end of River Heights, there was a Neiman's Pharmacy between Lanark and Refrew Streets. The Nieman family would go on to own a series of drug stores including one further down Corydon at Harrow and Stafford. The building years later in the 1980s would house Nibbler's Nosh. Strangely enough the whole building is once again a drug store: a Pharma Plus Rexall.

Near River Heights Junior High at Niagara was a Dixon's Pharmacy where the Paper Gallery now stands. Students from the school would troop there in winter for snacks and in summer in the late 1970s go to an ice cream shop where 7/Eleven stands. I can't recall the name of the ice cream place other than it was Dairy Whip or something to that effect.

Every neighbourhood has stories of their local pharmacies. I will add more over time but please share yours as memory fades with time.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Moulé Winnipeg Closed

For anyone driving down Academy Road, it was hard not to notice the closing sale signs as well as building for sale sign at Moulé Winnipeg at 443 Academy Road. The onetime flagship of a family business spanning 4 locations across North America is now closed and the windows reveal an empty store.

The boutique sold clothes, make-up, gifts and wide array of items in a 1928 converted family residence that was built out to the street in 1994. At just under 3000 square feet, it was not a small store in the least.

Academy Road continues to evolve. Over the years, it was home to Safeways, gas stations such Gulf. Pacific 66, movie theatre, pharmacies, banks like Fidelity Trust, Bank of Montreal, TD, Royal Bank, dentist offices, video stores like Video Zone and Adi's  and a greasy spoon restaurant. In recent years, it has been boutiques and fancy restaurants.

By the way, if anyone can remember all the gas stations on Academy Road, please message me.

Moulé Winnipeg has been unconditionally sold and it seems likely we are going to be seeing another shop set up. With any luck, it will have the long successful run that its previous owner did.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

DSW Opens May 3 in Winnipeg at Outlet Collection

One of the only exterior building signs up already at Outlet Collection of Winnipeg mall is for the DSW store which opens May 3. The 20,000 square foot building will be the first location of Designer Shoe Warehouse in Manitoba and likely the flagship for years to come. The store will be the 24th location in Canada

DSW will feature all the latest innovations the company has on offer. In Winnipeg, for example, the store will have 1,500 square feet dedicated to women's handbags. On March 1st, DSW Kids was launched at 8 other stores in Canada. Winnipeg will be the 9th location and DSW Kids collection will includes footwear for toddlers through teens, over 300 styles of footwear for boys and girls. Sandals, boots, dress shoe and sport shoes will be available in kid size.

In the last several days, Outlet Collection signs have been mounted on two towers facing out to Kenaston. A shocking amount of work appears to going on inside and outside the mall. It is hard to imagine it all comes together in a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Mobil Gas Coming to Winnipeg

Well, not just to Winnipeg but all across Canada.

It was announced that Loblaw's, the parent company of Real Canadian Superstore and various offshoots like Real Canadian Wholesale and others, has sold all their gas stations, convenience stores and carwashes to Brookfield Business Partners LP. The total number of stations will be 213 of which several are in Winnipeg.

Imperial Oil Ltd has partnered with Brookfield to bring the Mobil brand to Canada through Exxon Mobil Corp. of the United States. Expect the re-flagging to take place over the next several months. The sales nets $540 million for Loblaw's and does not include any refineries.

The deal comes on the heels this week that all of Chevron's gas stations and refinery in Canada which are located in British Columbia have been sold to Red Deer, Alberta-based Parkland for $1.5 billion. This will make Parkland Canada's biggest gas retailer. Parkland owns assets in Manitoba through the purchase of the Pioneer gas stations in 2014 outside Winnipeg.

Last year in Winnipeg, 9 Safeway gas stations were converted to Shell stations.

The Manitoba market will likely see no benefit from the name change. It is the lack of competing refineries that mostly has an impact on prices. The only thing that can push price is aggressive grocery store cross promotion with gas purchase but has limits.

Mobil is one of the more American brands in terms of being recognized. Look for them coming soon to a Superstore near you in months to come.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Fionn MacCool's Coming to Grant Park in June

Grant Park Mall continues to see construction as Goodlife Fitness is preparing the remainder of the old Target location for a fall opening. Winners is also under construction beside the Liquor Mart with an opening date of December of this year.

In the parking lot beside Cambrian Credit Union along Grant Avenue construction is taking place. Today we learn it is a Fionn MacCool's restaurant. It is slated to open in June and will be out 4300 square feet. It will feature an outdoor patio. The Irish pub already has a location on Regent since 2014 in the former Kelsey's location and soon for Brandon.

The restaurant started in 1996 in Canada and is now coast to coast. The addition of a location at Grant Park should cap off several years of construction and retail upheaval at the 45 year old mall. By the end of the year the mall is likely to be fully leased with a configuration and anchor businesses will be around for some time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Peavy Mart for Fort Richmond Plaza

One would think with space on Pembina Highway at one time being so highly sought out that Fort Richmond Plaza and the big empty space beside a two year super Sobey's Extra would be attractive. And yet the former Zellers sat and sat some more. Perhaps it was the developer just waiting no matter how long it took to get the right tenant. Hard to say.

The transformation of Pembina Highway and the south Fort Garry, Fort Richmond area continues. It is the new Chinatown in and around the University of Manitoba. Travel down the street and it is possibly to bus seating with no English at all written. Many of the businesses are very focused on the Asian market that lives, works and goes to school in the area. Still, according to the census the area is still diverse and with St. Norbert and Richmond West nearby opportunities presented themselves.

Fort Richmond is a mature neighbourhood seeing many homes being used for university housing. The Fort Richmond Plaza had been somewhat dated for 25 years or more. After a while, there was no denying that the mall was in a free fall.

The large modern Sobey's was one of the first good news story in a long while in that end of town. And now another store will take over part of the space next door in a completely re-worked former Zellers.

Peavy Mart will open their second city location using 33,000 of the 42,000 square feet space. It will be smaller than the first location on Nairn but still sizeable for the chain. The store will carry agricultural goods, greenhouse and garden supplies, housewares, sporting goods and a list of supplies unique to the store.

Peavy's location on south Pembina is attractive to people just outside city limits coming into town for supplies. Deeper into the city is probably not a good a match for their customer base and for what they sell. In the end, the main commercial route into the city from the States runs down Pembina. It should always be possible for retailers to take advantage of that despite whatever local changes are taking place in the neighbourhood.

Having said that, can it be long before we see a Chinese mall in the area if space comes available. I think it is inevitable.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Emerson Duty Free Shop to be Re-Built

Emerson Duty Free Plans
The Emerson Port of Entry is slated to begin a two phase three year improvement to the roadways starting this year and running through to 2020. Three additional lanes will be built, Coinciding with that construction, the 20,000 square foot Emerson Duty Free will be demolished and replaced with a new building of the same size.

Around 40% of the customers are truckers who are forbidden to bring alcohol across. The new store will take into consideration this dynamic. There will also be a new focus on online sales.

Billions of product pass through the port and commercial and leisure drivers pass through Emerson 24 hours a day. The Emerson Duty Free is seeking to capture more of those passersby and shop instore and online.

A few decades back, Emerson Duty Free placed scores of billboards for the shop along Highway 75. Stan Kubicek from CKND was the spokesman and his face was on their ads all over.

Back in the very early 1980s both Pembina and Emerson border crossings were one floor sleepy looking brick buildings. First Pembina and then Emerson stations were built up to the configurations they are now. Since then a few upgrades every few years have happened. The last on the Canadian side in 1999.

Stay tuned for updates on this project. Everyone with old pictures of the Emerson Duty Free , please contact me.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Anytime Fitness Coming to Polo Park and Osborne Village

Former American Apparel
On the Anytime Fitness list of future clubs, it says that the former American Apparel at 108 Osborne and the former Blue Bomber seasonal store at 915 Empress will be seeing new gyms in the 5000 square foot range very soon.

I have written on this blog how important the fitness industry has been in changing how retail and malls appeal to consumers. Goodlife Fitness, Snap, Anytime Fitness, Orange and yoga studios are filling empty spaces and bringing people to various destinations.

Goodlife is well under way on construction at Grant Park mall and the mall will near fully leased soon.

In the last day, the largest Snap Fitness in North America located across the street from MTS Centre opened up their garage doors to the delight of passersby. That open style is certainly unfamiliar on Portage Avenue.

Osborne Village has been bemoaning the changes happening on their street. American Apparel had some concerned although the store's demise was international and had nothing to do with the location in general. Still, it was a large spot and it seemed like it might be a hard place to fill given the rent in the area. Some suggested it would only go if divided.

The Village's problem is too few landlords who established themselves very early on in the game and who want what the market will bear. That has been a lot in recent years. It is why some retailers have run to Corydon, Sherbrook and elsewhere to establish themselves.

There are certainly some gyms in condos in and around the Osborne Village. Snap is down the street and seems to be doing well. An Anytime Fitness in the middle of the population of the area should be a welcome addition. Given the growing density of the area, there should be enough room for two mid-size gyms.

Hope that Goodlife might come to the area is a stretch is not unfounded but it costs quite a bit of time and money to find the right location for the size gyms they require. It doesn't always require parking as noted by their Portage location but it really has to be right spot.

The vitality of Osborne should continue. Sustainable neighbourhoods can't only be swishy stores and restaurants.

The other Anytime is locating in the Walmart parking lot very near Polo Park. A series of stores have come and gone to the retail strip there so a change of pace is probably welcome. A few hotels are close by, lots of people shop and work in the area. A mid-size gym should work.

In this wired up world of online everything, the fitness industry is showing people still not want to go out. More retail areas are starting to catch on.