Shop­ping shift

New Mi­nas busi­nesses mov­ing away from mall, to­wards plazas

Valley Journal Advertiser - - NEWS - SARA ERIC­S­SON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA

Shop­ping trends are shift­ing in New Mi­nas as many North Amer­i­can shop­pers grav­i­tate from tra­di­tional malls and to­wards plazas, says a cham­ber of com­merce pres­i­dent.

An­napo­lis Val­ley Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Colby Clarke says the de­cline in ac­tively-leased re­tail spa­ces in the vil­lage’s County Fair Mall is part of a North Amer­ica-wide trend that shows “less ac­tiv­ity in a tra­di­tional mall set­ting and more ac­tiv­ity in clus­ter lo­ca­tions, such as Sil­ver Fox Drive in New Mi­nas or Dart­mouth Cross­ing.”

Bent­ley is clos­ing its re­tail lo­ca­tion at the mall and sell­ing off re­main­ing stock. Em­ploy­ees at the store re­ferred ques­tions re­gard­ing the store’s clos­ing to the com­pany’s head of­fice, which did not re­spond to Kings County News’ re­quests for com­ment.

The mall cur­rently has eight empty units with ‘For Lease’ signs on win­dows, and an­other four units that ap­pear un­used.

EB Games also closed its doors in­side the mall in Septem­ber — the com­pany will re­tain its Com­mer­cial Street lo­ca­tion near Wal-Mart — and the Royal Bank will close its branch once its stand­alone build­ing is com­pleted in the mall’s park­ing lot.

Crom­bie REIT pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager El­iz­a­beth En­gram says the com­pany “will not speak to spe­cific store ac­tiv­i­ties.”

She confirmed in Oc­to­ber the mall had not ex­pe­ri­enced an “up­take in leas­ing in­ter­est” fol­low­ing Oct. 17, when the mall’s NSLC store be­gan sell­ing cannabis, and she said there are “a num­ber of rea­sons… at­tract­ing new busi­ness to any small com­mu­nity can be chal­leng­ing.”

Clarke, who also works as an ad­vi­sor at Sunlife, says this shop­ping shift doesn’t mean busi­ness is out in New Mi­nas, but rather that it “has caused tra­di­tional mall lo­ca­tions to think dif­fer­ently and try new and ex­cit­ing things.”

“The de­cline in County Fair Mall ten­ants may look neg­a­tive in the short term but will present great op­por­tu­ni­ties for re­de­vel­op­ment in the near fu­ture,” he says.

New Mi­nas Vil­lage Com­mis­sion chair­man Dave Chaulk says de­spite his own dis­like for plaza shop­ping, he rec­og­nizes the trend is gain­ing trac­tion in Nova Sco­tia.

“These, to my way of think­ing, they’re not con­ve­nient — but these plazas are pop­u­lar. A lot [of the stores] that have left the mall have been a na­tional thing in some cases,” says Chaulk.

Two such de­par­tures were Zellers in 2013 and Sears in 2016, both of which closed as part of each com­pany’s na­tional store clo­sures. Both units have re­mained va­cant since these clo­sures.

Chaulk says stores clos­ing at the mall may not be “cause for con­cern, but it’s cer­tainly not a good thing — it’s never a good thing when busi­nesses close.”

But he and Clarke agree this shift poses no threat to New Mi­nas’ sta­tus as a shop­ping mecca.

“We’re still the shop­ping cen­tre of the An­napo­lis Val­ley,” says Chaulk.

“Busi­nesses come and go, and that’s all part of the cy­cle.”

SARA ERIC­S­SON

Bent­ley is clos­ing its re­tail lo­ca­tion at the County Fair Mall in New Mi­nas, where many re­tail units are for avail­able for lease.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

Zellers, one of the mall’s largest re­tail spa­ces, has been va­cant since 2013, when Zellers re­tail lo­ca­tions closed across Canada.

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