End of an era

Cloth­ing re­tailer Mills Hal­i­fax closes down for good

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE - BY HA­LEY RYAN

Ju­dith Ryan still re­mem­bers the ex­cite­ment of walk­ing through Mills as a child with her aunt, pick­ing out Christ­mas presents from the bustling down­town Hal­i­fax store.

But that was in the 1950s and 60s, and on Thurs­day she was on her way to shop at the Spring Gar­den Road lo­ca­tion when she saw the shut­tered store­front.

“That’s very dis­ap­point­ing,” said Ryan, who lives in Pic­tou County but said she makes a point to drop into Mills when in Hal­i­fax.

Mills Hal­i­fax co-own­ers Lisa Gal­li­van and Can­dace Thomas put out a news re­lease Thurs­day morn­ing say­ing the store, which had been on Spring Gar­den for 96 years, had closed and gone into re­ceiver­ship at the end of busi­ness Tues­day.

Peter Wed­lake of Grant Thorn­ton was named the re­ceiver and will man­age Mills’ re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to its cred­i­tors, sup­pli­ers and em­ploy­ees. The com­pany’s 20 full- and part­time em­ploy­ees were told they were out of a job Thurs­day.

The re­lease said Gal­li­van and Thomas be­came the sole share­hold­ers of Mills ear­lier this year, af­ter be­ing part of a group that bought the his­toric for­mer Mills Broth­ers depart­ment store in 2012.

“De­spite our best ef­forts … it be­came clear that we would not be able to gen­er­ate enough busi­ness to con­tinue for the long term,” the re­lease said.

Ryan said while she still liked Mills, she re­mem­bers neg­a­tive com­ments be­ing made about the store when it was bro­ken into two lev­els, and that it “didn’t have the same kind of at­mos­phere and feel to it.”

“I have bought a cou­ple things there that fit me, but … the fo­cus on more of the cut­tingedge de­sign­ers prob­a­bly had some­thing to do with it,” Ryan said.

A Hal­i­fax stu­dent who pre­ferred not to give her name said she “never shopped there” be­cause the clothes were beau­ti­ful but over-priced.

“[It’s] the kind of stuff you walk in to look at and don’t ac­tu­ally pur­chase,” she said.

Anita, who pre­ferred not to give her last name, walked by Thurs­day and said Mills had let go of their “tar­get mar­ket” that had kept them in busi­ness for decades.

“There are very few places for women over 40,” Anita said. “If they had tar­geted that

au­di­ence which was their base, they’d have been much more suc­cess­ful.”

Spring Gar­den Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion look­ing for ac­tion af­ter Mills clo­sure

The sud­den clo­sure of Mills Hal­i­fax this week has the area busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion hop­ing the city will “sit up” and take ac­tion to sup­port lo­cal stores.

On Thurs­day, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Spring Gar­den Road Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion said she was “com­pletely sur­prised” to hear of Mills Hal­i­fax clos­ing for good and go­ing into re­ceiver­ship. She doesn’t know the de­tails of the clo­sure, but said the city has a part to play in cre­at­ing a bet­ter fu­ture for the area.


The Mills Hal­i­fax store­front on Thurs­day.

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