Montreal, Quebec, Canada
In most cities, Place Vertu would probably be built as a power mall, an outdoor strip mall with several big box stores. In fact, the mall across the street is a power mal. But perhaps because of its Montreal location (land of cold, snowy winters—who wants to freeze and slip on ice going from store to store?) or because of sits at the edge of a major planned community (Bois Franc), the owners developed it as an indoor mall.
The mall might have had aspirations of becoming a regional mall at first. Early tenants included K-Mart (which left Canada before I moved here), and Dominion (a grocery chain long since gone from the Canadian grocery scene), the Bay (now Hudson’s Bay), and Sears. The Bay left years ago. Although Sears technically occupies its location, it puts less effort into stocking and maintaining the store than I put into cleaning my office (which is close to none). In fact, the Sears at Place Vertu is so depressing that—dilapidated fixtures holding C-grade merchandise that’s strewn all over the place—that it appears to be the first 3-D advertisement for an anti-depressant.
Furthermore, invisible from the highway and away from any “natural” intersections of major streets, the mall has limited ability to attract drive-by and walk-in customers. So it needs to position itself as a destination for the immediate community.
Remodeled in the past several years, the landlords have effectively positioned Place Vertu as a neighborhood mall. A family can find nearly all of its major necessities at this mall. The remodeling makes the mall a pleasant place to make those purchases and run into a neighbor or two in the process.
Around the time of the renovation, Zellers (later Target) moved into the former Bay location. The empty Target location is an auto showroom right now.
The former Zellers location became a Canadian Tire.
The landlord enticed specialty grocer Adonis to the mall. Adonis specializes in Middle Eastern food. Stay away from the baked goods; Adonis charges for its sumptuous, home-made baklavas by weight; and you’ll pay for that weight in more than one way.
Other major retailers include Winners, Uniprix, Sports Experts, and Dollarama. Most of the retailers offer reasonably priced merchandise that the average working family can afford.
An unusually large food court serves as a neighborhood gathering space and a couple of restaurants (like East Side Marios) provide a more formal meeting place.
The floor plan is a bit difficult to traverse as some corridors do not connect to others. For example, the wing with Target and Winners is not easily accessible to the wings containing Canadian Tire and Adonis.
But that’s a small complaint. Because it has a clear sense of its identity, Place Vertu does what it’s supposed to do well and does not annoy visitors with pretensions to more. No wonder it’s celebrating its 40th birthday.
Mall at a Glance
Anchors: Adonis (specialty supermarket), Canadian Tire, Sears, Winners.
National chains: 5eme Avenue, Aldo,Ardene, Bentley,Brown’s Outlet, Centre du Rasoir, Ernest, Hallmark, Payless, SAQ (Quebec provincial liquor store), The Source, Sports Experts, Uniprix.
The mall also has a great selection of local stores, unusual for most malls.
Variety of merchandise: Fashion: Fair. Household: Good to Very Good. Electronics: Limited. Food: Excellent.
Prices from low to middle range.
Special notes: This is a neighborhood mall, intended for purchases of everyday items.
Food court: Large selection, with particularly strong selections in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine (serving the local community). Kabab is a particular favorite, probably the best Middle Eastern food court restaurant in the city. Grillades Torino, also in the mall, is a close second.