CITY CENTRE â€” For many, it may seem like just yesterday that Target held its grand opening at Surrey’s Central City Shopping Centre, complete with a live band, former Canucks goalie Kirk McLean and a presentation from then-mayor Dianne Watts. The glitzy event – complete with drinks and tapas – perfectly summed up the anticipation Canadians had for the U.S. retailer moving into our neck of the woods, and that this would be something big.
But fast-forward one-and-a-half years and the doors to Surrey’s lone Target location are now closed for good, leaving only a taste of disappointment in the mouths of so many Canadian customers. The big red Target seemingly missed the mark with consumers and the company is set to pull out of Canada completely by mid-May.
Joining Target in Canadian retail heaven will be Future Shop, which abruptly announced its closure earlier this week, with stores either ceasing operations completely or turning into Best Buys
At Central City, the Future Shop store is among those to be permanently closed.
The news means Surrey’s Central City Shopping Centre now finds itself with two sizeable empty storefronts.
And while some may look at the situation as being something of a negative, those in charge at Central see it as potential incarnate.
"Both the Best Buy/Future Shop and Target announcements present exciting redevelopment opportunities for Central City," said Bill Rempel, vice-president and manager of Blackwood Partners, which owns the mall. "We are examining a number a various scenarios as part of the long-term positioning of our asset."
Elizabeth Model, CEO of the Downtown Surrey BIA, shared Rempel’s enthusiasm for the sites.
"There’s two terrific spaces with huge opportunity for new tenants right in our downtown core," she said. "Central City and Blackwood Partners are very professional and will do a great job in attracting and filling the space and giving our area more choices for us, the consumer."
Looking at the closures of two fairly large businesses in Surrey’s downtown core, Model said it was simply the economy and market at work, and doesn’t believe it has anything to do with area-specific shopping habits.
"We’ll see businesses come and businesses go based on the requirements of the area, but in this case those are two major tenants throughout Canada," she said. "So they might have very good sales in the area but it could be a case of head offices who are not realizing the potential of those specific businesses within the context of Canada.
"It’s business and it’s all about numbers. If they don’t meet their quotas they don’t meet it across Canada then they have to make those very tough decisions because it impacts people’s lives."
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade said it was unfortunate that Surrey is affected by these store closures.
"It’s always a blow when such a significant business closes in Surrey and we’ve seen other closures of significant retail stores in the last year," said Huberman. "That means a loss of jobs, and when there’s a loss of jobs there’s less spending in the economy."
But Model said she isn’t worried the closures will negatively impact the area in the long-term.
"What I do see are more people in the street, more people walking around from when I arrived six years ago," she said. "Central City as a mall is so busy compared to what they used to be. So with the general population growth, with more businesses coming here, there’s a lot more pooling of people in the area, there’s more opportunities to do better."
According to Rempel, plans for the locations will be announced sometime in the future, and he noted Best Buy and Future Shop have been nothing but great tenants.
There is currently a Best Buy located opposite the mall, which is also part of Blackwood’s property.
Approximately 1,500 Future Shop employees in Canada lost their jobs Saturday (March 28), when the company announced it would merge with its parent company, Best Buy Canada. The latter acquired Future Shop in a multi-million dollar deal in 2001, operating both chains.
Best Buy Canada issued a press release detailing that it closed 66 Future Shop stores, and temporarily closed an additional 65 stores as they transition over to the Best Buy brand.
The Future Shop in South Surrey at Grandview Corners (2267 160th St.) and the store at Scott Road Crossing (12048 80th Ave.) are both temporarily closed until April 4. Both stores will reopen under the Best Buy Canada brand.
In all, the company will now have a total of 192 locations across Canada, including 136 large-format stores and 56 Best Buy Mobile stores, the release said.
-with files from Kristi Alexandra