Hudson’s Bay to Shut Historic Standalone Store in Banff Alberta

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The Hudson’s Bay store in Banff, Alberta, will be shuttering in August of this year. The store is the smallest in the chain and has a prominent location on the main shopping street in the town known as a tourist hot spot. Hudson’s Bay has operated department stores in the town since 1940.

The current Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store spans about 20,000 square feet over two levels. Located at 125 Banff Avenue, it’s the largest store in Banff at the moment and its closure spells the end of such window displays as canoes with HBC striped point blankets and other branded merchandise. The current store is actually the second department store location for Hudson’s Bay in Banff.

The first Hudson’s bay department store in Banff opened at 202 Banff Avenue in 1935 according to the Crag & Canyon, and the building is still standing to this day and is named ‘Caribou Corner’. In 1947 Hudson’s Bay relocated to its current 125 Banff Avenue location which was expanded by annexing a restaurant space in 1979.

The prior tenant at 125 Banff Avenue was Adams Radio Parlors Ltd., which had various electrical appliances including radios that could be rented.

Click image for interactive Google Map
The original Hudson’s Bay store in Banff at 202 Banff Avenue in 1940 — the store relocated to 125 Banff Avenue in the early 1960s. Photo via ‘The Albertan’, www.newspapers.com search
inside the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store. Photo: Jonathan B. via Google Images
inside the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store. Photo: Jonathan B. via Google Images

Over the years the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store has sold a wide variety of merchandise including fashions, handbags, accessories and cosmetics, as well as the iconic HBC stripe merchandise that has proven popular with tourists. Fur coats and accessories were also part of the mix in decades past as the Hudson’s Bay Company was a seller of fur garments, having begun in the fur trade in 1670. 

The configuration of the current Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store is rather awkward, with each level spanning just under 10,000 square feet. That includes a street level and a basement level that features remarkably low ceiling heights. 

Given the low ceiling heights in the basement and the single-level above ground, the Banff Hudson’s Bay store could be ripe for redevelopment. That could include demising the street level into multiple retail units, or demolishing the building entirely for something new. The store boasts 75 feet of frontage on Banff Avenue and a lot depth of more than 130 feet. Hudson’s Bay owns half the building at 123-125 Banff Avenue, and another company owns the other side according to a report in RMO Today.

inside the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store. Photo: Sergey Reznichenko via Google Images
inside the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store. Photo: Jeremy Gillespie via Google Images
inside the 125 Banff Avenue Hudson’s Bay store. Photo: Dale Bennett via Google Images
Photo: AmeriCar The Beautiful via Facebook

Various redevelopment opportunities are possible. A new mini-mall could be developed on the site — Banff Avenue is home to several, featuring smaller interior storefronts with businesses catering primarily to tourists. A hotel or other use could be located above, and even residential units if the market warrants it. 

It’s not yet known if Hudson’s Bay will return to Banff with a smaller storefront featuring Hudson’s Bay Company striped merchandise, which is popular with international tourists. In the past Hudson’s Bay has opened such dedicated smaller stores in busy airports. 

News of the closure of the Banff Hudson’s Bay store follows our exclusive report last week that Hudson’s Bay’s Londonderry Mall store in Edmonton will be shutting in August as well. The 118,000 square foot store opened in 1971 and saw soft sales in recent years as the store was downsized to include just two central check-outs. Over the course of the pandemic, Hudson’s Bay has shut stores in downtown Edmonton and downtown Winnipeg as well as at Les Jardins Dorval in suburban Montreal. 

Hudson’s Bay on Banff Avenue (Image: TripAdvisor)
Hudson’s Bay on Banff Avenue (Image: TripAdvisor)
Hudson’s Bay on Banff Avenue (Image: Facebook)
Hudson’s Bay on Banff Avenue (Image: Canada AmeriCar)
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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. The history of the Hudson’s Bay Company continues to disappear, as it cannot find a true foothold in the Canadian Market, from large stores to now its smallest store in Banff. Real Estate sales are filling the tills these days, not merchandise profits. It really is a sad state of affairs. New CEO’s on a regular basis will not solve the problem, they only compound the situation. Only an ownership change is needed to bring forth new ideas and concepts.

  2. You are so rght Wally! Wishing for an ownership change into the hands of a Canadian retail entity with a vision of retailing today with a respectful and knowledgeable nod to the 350+ years of history the HBC carrys with it. The last time the real estate was filling someones pockets was during the Thompson era, in order to cash out to generate the monies to purchase Rueters. History repeats itself once again. Peter Newman in “The Company of Adventurers” wrote, ‘in spite of the characters that have controlled the HBC, the company has always found a way to succeed. Lets see if it is able to do so this time?

  3. Only a beginning of what Hudson’s Bay needs to do. Despite its advantages of an iconic brand identity, its vast history as a founding factor of Canada, its great resources, it continues to flounder while Simon’s, a much smaller company, thrives. Perhaps there’s something for The Bay’s management to learn?

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