Upswing in new chain stores to Summerside welcome, Chamber

Colin MacLean
Published on July 16, 2014

Several new chain stores have opened or are set to open in Summerside in a short timeframe. The local chamber of commerce is welcoming the news. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – Did you hear?

There’s a Starbucks opening up in Summerside.

Oh, and a Wicker Emporium.

Right, and a Pets Plus – and a Pita Pitt – and then there’s the Giant Tiger and Sports Chek.

All have opened or will open within a few short months of each other.

It’s been a while since Summerside saw such a sudden upswing in its big name retail offerings, and while the new outlets will compete with established local business, the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce is welcoming their new neighbours.

Chamber President Jonathan Greenan said, that in general, local business owners have nothing to fear from a little healthy competition, which can lead to innovation and a stronger business ecosystem as a whole.

“I think in Summerside we’ve got a strong business community. I think we have people who have been successful here for decades and they know what they need to do to be successful,” he said.

“Any sign that people are prepared to invest in Summerside can be taken as a positive.”

As for why these big name stores suddenly found Summerside so appealing – your guess is as good as his, he added.

“I don’t think there’s any one change that I would necessarily attribute this to. Obviously it’s individual business owners … who are making the decision to invest in Summerside and in all likelihood it’s a multitude of things. But if we knew what it was we’d bottle it, we’d sell it and we’d repeat it.”

For at least one of the new businesses, Summerside was appealing because of the popularity of their sister location in Charlottetown.

Priyanka Kapahi, marketing director for Wicker Emporium, said Tuesday that their new location in the Granville Street Plaza (opening July 19) is a response to both a strong capital city store and positive sales numbers in other markets comparable to Summerside.

“We felt it was a good idea to try Summerside because the smaller markets seem to generate interest with our products, we carry a lot of unique stuff … so we find we have a niche in the smaller markets,” said Kapahi.

Kapahi also noted that Summerside has had a Wicker Emporium before, though it closed sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Their second iteration here will employ between four and five people.