While the pandemic hit the retail sector hard, the Aberdeen Mall in Kamloops, BC, took the opportunity to open a number of new stores during the health crisis in abandoned former Sears space.
It has also added a number of different retailers to its tenant mix and continues to attract new businesses.
Sandra Neufeld, General Manager of the mall, which is managed by Cushman & Wakefield and owned by Seacliff Properties, said the past year or so has been a busy one for the shopping centre.
“We’ve opened a Specsavers, a brand new BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) lottery kiosk and a Suzy Shier/Le Chateau combo store. We’ve also added to our food and beverage with a bubble tea shop called SweeTea. And Fork Lift Kitchen & Bar is the name of a restaurant that opened inside of our grocery store, Fresh St. Market.” said Neufeld, adding that the grocery store opened a few years ago.
“Those were all the new things that opened last year. In addition to that though we also saw the relocation and expansion of three existing tenants that wanted to move to a larger footprint with brand new buildouts. Those three retailers are SoftMoc, Ardene and La Vie En Rose. They were all existing, but they built big, new, beautiful stores. They all wanted to expand their square footage.
“It was a busy year for us.”
Aberdeen Mall, which was built in 1981, is about 465,000 square feet over two levels with 90 tenants. It’s located in a southwest part of Kamloops called Aberdeen.
“We’ve got two buildouts currently happening. The first is Mobile Klinik and the second is Kurves Brow Bar. Those are under construction right now and they will open later this spring or early summer,” said Neufeld.
“We also just finished development of a pad site out in our parking lot and that site is going to pave the way for future restaurant Canadian Brewhouse. So always lots happening here . . . We’re hoping that construction will commence later this year with an opening in 2024.”
Neufeld said the mall was fortunate through COVID. It had a Sears box space that was returned to the mall in 2018. That space was about 120,000 square feet over two levels.
“It gave us the opportunity to have some square footage to bring in new tenants. I can tell you with respect to our occupancy, it has always been really high which is obviously a huge plus for a variety of reasons,” she said.
“But one of the negatives of having a low vacancy rate is that it doesn’t allow you a lot of turnover to bring in new brands because we simply just don’t have the space for them. Getting the Sears box back for a lot of landlords was a negative at a time when they didn’t want more square footage added, but for us it was celebrated. Not that I wanted Sears to leave, don’t get me wrong, but to have the opportunity to bring in some new tenants was really exciting.
“Unlike many in the retail industry, while COVID was going we were in the fortunate position of having some major brands open. Since the pandemic started, we’ve added a Marshalls to the shopping centre, as well as Old Navy and Fresh St. Market.
“We also completely renovated our food court and increased our seating. It’s been a busy few years. We’ve been really lucky that we’ve been able to secure some great tenants to add to our mix.”
Neufeld said there’s a few smaller parcels of space available within the old Sears space.
“We have a 7,000-square-foot unit and a 5,000-square-foot unit that are left out of that and everything else has been taken up,” she said.
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