Sears is out but the possibilities are endless

Sears has finally pulled the plug. They were granted permission Oct. 13 by the courts to start liquidation of their remaining stores.

This includes a job loss for over 12,000 people who have helped served generations of Canadian shoppers.

So I posed the following question to my friends and social media followers this week: If Sears is out of Saskatoon’s Midtown Plaza, what should be in?

After a flurry of brainstorming I got some pretty good suggestions. So hopefully Kingsett Capital, the Midtown Plaza landlord, is listening!

Retail is King

There is a long list of retailers that still do not call Saskatoon home.

For example, Regina has an H&M and Justice, but we do not. There is a group consensus of shoppers that we deserve them too.

People would also like to see Simons, Forever 21, Hot Topic, and Urban Outfitters, none of which are in Saskatchewan at all.

The vacancy would lend itself nicely if Old Navy, for example, decided they needed another location.

The Bay isn’t going anywhere for now. But is Saskatoon ready for new likewise luxury retailers?

Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s are both expanding in Canada.

The square footage is daunting leaving an estimated 160,000 square feet Sears currently occupies.

Carve it up

Finding one tenant to fill the Sears vacancy might not pan out.

Therefore, my colleagues agree that a reconfiguring of the space for smaller users.

If the space changed from a single tenancy to a multiple tenancy mix there would be opportunities for smaller retailers who have been unable to secure a space in the Midtown previously.

Dream big

Other options that were offered up, though some more unlikely than others have included:

A core grocery store – much needed and much wanted; logistically the site presents some problems but perhaps they could be worked out.

A gym – there are more and more opening every day, maybe this site presents an opportunity for a Gold’s or something niche.

Superstore – they certainly exist in malls elsewhere, and they’d fill the grocery component while being able to showcase their retail lines.

Ikea – keep dreaming, we don’t have enough people to catch their interest yet. Their small concept pick up stores don’t even exist here yet, but this is a dream list so we’ll leave it on.

Rec Room– Cineplex is expanding their Rec Room concept across Canada. It’s typically attached to their theatres, but proximity to their downtown centre might be close enough. With lots of room to build the concept, this could include a variety of entertainment draws (games, laser tag, adult ball pit!) while possibly providing child care services.

Office conversion – with high vacancy at present in downtown office, it’s unlikely the mall owners would consider a conversion. But it’s not totally outside the realm of reality in a full site redevelopment plan.

I want to thank everyone who responded to my call for suggestions. I hope I got them all in here.

And on a final note, I offer up CBC as the official forerunner for the longest shot idea I’ve heard so far: a new library location. I can’t think of a worse use for the space myself, but never say never!

I welcome your thoughts, please email me directly or comment below. In the meantime you’ll find me stopping in to Sears periodically to witness their final days.

Posted by Kelly Macsymic

*For illustration purposes only, ICR Commercial does not have this property listed.

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4 Comments

  1. I would love to see the Sears space developed with multiple retail units facing both inward to the plaza, but also outward to 20th Street and 1rst Avenue. This would effectively join the streetlife of Riversdale to the streetlife of downtown. I think the whole would be even better than the parts.

    • Excellent idea, Dave! We couldn’t agree with you more. I think this would be a terrific way to bridge both areas. There is a natural pedestrian corridor there, so why not use it!

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