Summerside – Temperatures had taken a dip on Wednesday, which meant shoppers at Summerside’s County Fair Mall were sent scurrying to and from the warm confines of their cars and the mall.
But that didn’t stop people from chatting about the future of the lone major retail space.
In fact, many of the customers hurrying in and out of Zellers Wednesday could be overheard asking each questions like; “When is Zellers closing?” and “what is a Giant Tiger?”
It was announced last week that Canadian retailer, Giant Tiger, would be opening its first location on P.E.I. in the spring of 2014 in part of the space now occupied by Zellers, which is closing in March.
Giant Tiger would be comparable to Zellers in terms of merchandise, such as: home décor, clothing, groceries and small appliances.
Customers who spoke with The Journal Pioneer expressed mixed emotions at the news that Giant Tiger would be coming to Summerside.
“It’s a shame that Zellers is closing. All those employees… it’s a sad thing,” said Paulette Arsenault.
Arlene Lewis is just glad something – anything – will be replacing one of two anchor stores at the mall.
When news of Zellers’ closing was announced about a year ago, Lewis was afraid that County Fair Mall would end up like the Waterfront Mall, which struggled for years after losing its anchor tenants. It was eventually purchased by Holland College.
But she was happy to hear about Giant Tiger taking over at least part of the Zellers retail space.
“I love Giant Tiger,” she said.
“It’s got a variety of everything — and the prices are really good,” she added.
“I always look forward to it whenever we go across. But I’m going to miss Zellers… it’s been here for a long time.”
And shoppers weren’t the only people in Summerside expressing relief on Wednesday.
Todd Clark, president of the Summerside and Area Chamber of Commerce, said he wished the new business the best of luck.
He also expressed relief that Crombie REIT, which owns the mall, had managed to attract a larger tenant.
Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart said earlier this week that the city has been working with Crombie REIT and that this news is the pay off.
Hopefully, some of the employees affected by Zeller’s closing will find new opportunities with Giant Tiger, he said.
“It should hopefully give a lot of the jobs back to the people who worked at Zellers. I don’t know how they’re going to do that – but there will be a lot of job opportunities there.”
Stewart is also hopeful about the future of County Fair Mall.
Giant Tiger intends on using about a quarter of the 96,000 square feet of space currently occupied by Zellers, which would mean, unless new tenants can be found, a lot of empty space in the mall.
The mayor would only say that he’d “heard some things,” regarding more potential tenants for the mall, but added that he’d leave the official announcements to the companies themselves.