It’s only been a matter of weeks since HBC confirmed rumours that the Agassiz Fields would close this year, and a buyer has already swooped into place.
The Bargain! Shop announced on Monday that it is planning to acquire ten retail locations from Hudson’s Bay Company’s closing Fields banner, effective August 1, 2012. The list includes the Agassiz store, along with stores in Armstrong, New Hazelton, Osoyoos and Squamish. They do not list the Hope Fields in the announcement. All Fields stores are being closed by HBC throughout this year, a move the company said will help it focus on their existing banners, The Bay, Home Outfitters and Lord & Taylor. HBC sold the Zellers banner to Target last year, and recently acquired Lord & Taylor.
HBC confirmed the sale of the selected Fields locations to The Bargain! Shop, when contacted by The Observer.
Liquidation of the Agassiz Fields will start in May and wrap up by July 31. The Bargain! Shop expects to open early fall of this year.
The Bargain! Shop began as an arm of Woolworth’s, but became an independent chain in 1999. They have stores in smaller communities around B.C. and Canada.
The August 1 acquisition also includes stores in Gimli, MB, Biggar and Kelvington, SK, and Stony Plain and Beaverlodge in Alberta, bringing their total number of Canadian stores to 237.
Many residents had expressed disappointment with the closure of the Agassiz Fields, including Mayor John Van Laerhoven. Target acquired the Zellers locations last year, and fear that Agassiz would lose its Fields store began then. The loss of Zellers did not correlate to the closing of the Fields stores though, said Tiffany Bourre, external communications manager for HBC.
In early February, she told The Observer that the closures are “completely independent” of the recent acquisition by Target, in which that company acquired 189 Zellers leaseholds, another HBC department store chain.
She had also said HBC has no plans to open another banner in the current Fields location.
Rumours of an impending closure have been circulating around Agassiz since Target purchased the Zellers stores. To clear up these rumours, District of Kent’s mayor, John Van Laerhoven, wrote a letter to HBC.
“This store is one of our main businesses,” he wrote, “an anchor in our downtown core.”
Van Laerhoven had outlined that many of the store’s customers are local seniors who are without transportation, and therefore rely on local businesses to thrive. He was hoping to discuss the matter with HBC, with hopes that their decision would be reconsidered.
However, he was “excited” about Monday’s news when contacted by this newspaper, adding that the District would welcome the store with open arms.
“The Bargain! Shop coming to town is great news,” Van Laerhoven said. “Earlier in the month when we heard that Fields was closing we knew that would have a significant negative effect to downtown business.
“We breathe a sigh of relief, as this store will help strengthen the downtown business core and provide another local choice for our residents, he said. “A thriving business sector is an important element of a healthy community.”
Before Fields moved into the store at 7116 Pioneer Avenue, it was home to Ledoux Hardware (now at 6958 Pioneer).
The Bargain! Shop is not a dollar store, and carries a selection of products for the home, as well as apparel, footwear, pet care, food, cleaning and health and beauty products.
“As part of our plan to further grow our organization, this is a great opportunity for us to expand our footprint across Canada” said Lloyd Davis, President of The Bargain! Shop. “The Bargain! Shop is committed to offering the Canadian consumer in small markets, a convenient option that provides great value and strong customer service. We are excited to further grow The Bargain! Shop brand, and continue to serve and invest in smaller communities across Canada.”
Initial story: Buyer swoops in for Agassiz Fields