Campbell River now has a Winners, and locals are voicing their thoughts on the new retail store.
A first for the Vancouver Island city, the store opened Tuesday “to tremendous fanfare. A massive number of cars in the parking lot,” said property manager Dave Mills.
“I haven’t seen it that busy in a long time.”
The store, located at Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre on Island Highway, is nearly 23,000 square feet and features “fashions for the entire family as well as jewelry, accessories and giftware,” according to TJX, Winners’ parent company.
The building was formerly a Target, and before that it was a Zellers. More recently, it was converted into three stores, with Petsmart and Jysk to open next door to Winners.
For Mills, new openings are good news, especially after the building sat vacant for several years. The Target closed 18 months after opening, “just like the rest of them,” he laughed.
People have been buzzing about the new Winners.
“Having that building come back to life is a big positive boost,” said Mills. “The people are hungry for it, there’s no doubt about it.”
Winners markets itself as selling products priced “well below department and specialty stores,” according to spokesperson Erin O’Brien.
But what about the competition?
“Everyone’s asking that. Are you concerned? Are you worried? I’m really not,” said Deborah Shepley, assistant manager at Jim’s Clothes Closet, a locally-owned clothing store located a few blocks over on Shoppers Row.
“We have a lot of business in suits, so it’s not going to affect us a lot. A lot of our clientele have been our customers for 25 years, so I can’t see them leaving us,” she said.
“Sure, I shop at Winners, don’t get me wrong. And so do my employees. It might affect us a tiny little smidge, but not a whole lot like everybody’s thinking it will.”
Mills thinks Winners will help boost the economy.
“Campbell River didn’t have the large format stores, so (shoppers) had to go to Courtenay or Nanaimo. In many ways, it keeps them in town,” he said.
“The better selection of shopping there is in Campbell River, the more people are going to stay here to shop.”
According to TJX, the store “will follow newly established health protocols, including new cleaning regimens, required use of face coverings, and encouraging social distancing throughout stores.”
Winners has been around for 36 years and has 270 stores nationwide.
The new store in Campbell River is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.