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Halifax’s upscale downtown department store, Mills, is having a grand “re-opening” starting Saturday. The store was recently purchased by four women who have relocated the store and have modernized its branding and product selection. We spoke to owner Lisa Gallivan about her new store. 

Mills did something bold in the world of North American retailing – it stayed downtown, while so many retailers have chosen to open in suburbs. Mills opened in 1919 and has remained downtown ever since. Mills first occupied an entire tutor-styled building of about 37,000 square feet. Previous owners downsized the store to only about 8,000 square feet, while the rest of the space was leased to smaller retailers. Mills left that space after being purchased by the four women, who moved it up the street. 

The new Mills is only about 9,000 square feet over two floors, but it’s more open and better laid-out than the previous store. The new location is within a shopping complex called Spring Garden Place.

[Photo Source] Adams Photography

Mills concentrates on women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, shoes and some cosmetics. It carries some impressive brands, meaning that Nova Scotia shoppers may be less inclined to shop elsewhere for unique and upscale products. Women’s clothing brands include Armani Collezioni, Ted Baker, Michael by Michael Kors, Basler, Hugo Boss, Trina Turk, and several Canadian designers including Obakki. Clothing brands coming soon include MaxMara Studio and MaxMara Sportmax Code. Upscale handbags and shoes from Stuart Weitzman, Michael by Michael Kors, Marc by Marc Jacobs and L.K. Bennett are featured, and there are beauty lines that include Chanel, L’Occitane and Molton Brown.

There isn’t much for men, though some Michael Kors clothing is available, and a men’s skincare line called Jack Black is also featured.

[Photo Source] Adams Photography

The store is concentrating on catering to women of a wide variety of ages. This is a smart move, as the previous Mills client was traditionally more mature. As Halifax’s population ages, bringing in new, younger shoppers will be beneficial to the store’s success.

The store’s “grand re-opening” event starts Saturday and continues until October 5th. For a complete list of events, we direct you to this link.

We’re pleased to be reporting on retail in Atlantic Canada, and we’d like to do more. If you’ve got any retail tips for things happening in Canada’s Maritimes, please feel free to email us at:

Thank you for reading Retail Insider, and have an excellent weekend.

Photos: Adams Photography, Halifax.

[Mills website] [Mills Facebook page] [Mills Twitter]

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.


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