T.C. Square marks 30-year milestone
It seems like only yesterday the Trinity Conception Square was opening its doors to its first customers. But would you believe the official opening of the T.C. Square actually took place Feb. 19, 1979?The mall opening took place just three months after the official opening of F. W. Woolworth on Nov. 15, 1978 in the space currently occupied by Wal-Mart. Having been around since the beginning, Gladys Mercer, the T.C. Square's Property Manager remembers the mall's early days. Her first job at the mall was personnel manager for Woolworth's. When The Bay, one of the mall's original stores, moved out, Mercer became assistant manager of WISE Department Store and manager of Bargain Giant before becoming the mall's Property Manager 14 years ago. But Mercer is not the only original employee still employed at the mall. "There are other employees still working here from 1978, and they will be recognized at the T.C Square's annual dinner April 14," she said.
After three decades of serving the people of Trinity and Conception Bays, the T.C. Square still holds the distinction of being the largest indoor shop- ping centre on the Avalon Peninsula outside of St. John's. People from the capital city have been coming to the T.C. Square, especially since the completion of Veterans Memorial Highway in 2003, which has cut the commuting time to an hour. They also come from Conception Bay South and the Placentia area. "They all love the friendly, homey atmosphere here at the mall," Mercer says. Sales growth over the past 10 years has been consistent, and is showing no signs of slowing down, despite the recent downturn in the economy. "Last year (2008) the mall recorded very significant sales increases," Mercer was pleased to report. While the economy of North America continues in a downward spiral, one would be hard pressed to find evidence of any recession during a stroll through the T.C. Square. For example the mall still enjoys a 97 per cent occupancy rate, and its stores and services are busy, especially the larger chains. To illustrate the mall's continued prosperity, Mercer mentioned just last year Wal-Mart completed a major redevelopment of their store. And, she added, Rio Can Holdings Ltd., the mall's owners invested in new HVAC systems, parking lot and roof upgrades and major renovations to the public washrooms. The manager said those investments "show confidence in the future of the mall and area." After 14 years as mall manager, Mercer remains the eternal optimist. Referring to the investments in improvements, occupancy rates and sales increases, she recalls: "we had a great year last year and the first two months of this year (2009) have been quite good."
VARIETY OF SERVICES
Mercer likes the fact the mall has a good mix of international chains and locally owned enterprises, all of which blend well together to offer consumers such a wide variety of services all under one roof. "Diversity is very important for customers," she notes." People still like to be able to browse through an enclosed (climate-controlled) center like the mall," she says. Since the shopping centre observed its 25th anniversary in 2004, it has welcomed several new stores and services including: Jenna's, Pen and Paper, Bluenotes, Ardene, Baccalieu Images, Easy Home, Wireless Horizons, the Cash Store, LeGrow's Travel and Robin's Donuts, which brings to 35 the number of stores and services which employ over 500 people from the area. They along with the other stores and services that have set up shop in the mall over the years have all meant extensive renovations. And this is just another area where the mall continues to contribute to the local economy, especially when local contractors and suppliers are brought into play.
But apart from its obvious commercial/retail role, the T.C. Square continues to make an invaluable contribution to the social fabric of the communities it serves. Not for profit organizations and service groups from all over Trinity Conception appreciate the venue the mall provides for their fundraising activities. In fact the demand for space is so great that Mercer explains, "we have to schedule them in because we couldn't accommodate them all at any one time." With an estimated 5,000 passing though its doors each day, the mall has become a prime location for such fundraising ventures. One of the largest is the annual Toy Tree, a joint venture of the Salvation Army, KIXX Country, the T.C. Square and The Compass. It's been estimated the Happy Tree, as if was formerly known, has helped raise over half a million dollars for needy children in the area.
Nobody would have predicted 30 years ago the day would come when Columbus Drive would need not one but two sets of traffic lights to control the traffic. But that day has arrived and work is under way on redesigning the Columbus Drive-Goff Avenue intersection complete with a set of traffic signals to help control the flow of traffic trough that area. The T.C. Square can justifiably take credit for generating much of that traffic. It is a tangible sign of the tremendous commercial growth, which has taken place along Columbus Drive between London Road and Powell Drive over the past three decades. Gladys Mercer describes the Square as, "a rural community-based mall, which still puts its customers first." As the T.C. Square prepares to mark its 30-year milestone, Mercer believes the secret to its ongoing success has been the fact that the mall has never forgotten its rural roots. "It has maintained its strong sense of community, thinking of customers first and involving people. Our customers appreciate that."
T.C. SQUARE - With 35 stores and services all under one roof surrounded by enough parking spaces for a thousand vehicles, the Trinity Conception Square is the largest indoor shopping centre on the Avalon Peninsula outside of the capital city of St. John's.
MALL STAFF - The people in this photo should all be familiar faces to everyone who visits the T.C. Square. They are the mall staff. Seated from left: Don Curran, Maintenance Supervisor; Gladys Mercer, Property Manager and Stephanie Piercey, Property Administrator. Standing from left, Maintenance Personnel: Ray Penney, George Peckham, Guy Forward and Don Parsons.