Charlottetown Mall

17 Aug

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Quick Review

This is a small (60-store) enclosed mall at the edge of Charlottetown and the de facto centerpiece of a district of big-box retailing, mostly in strip malls.

As far as store selection goes, the mall contains many, though not all, of the “standards” in Canadian malls in smaller communities: Aldo, Bentley, Dollarama, Dynamite, La Senza Moore’s, Northern Reflections, The Source, Sport Chek, Stokes, Tip Top Tailors, and anchors Winners and—in an outbuilding– Superstore (Loblaw’s large discount format in the Maritimes). The store selection includes a surprise or two, like the growing retailer SoftMoc and youth-oriented Garage.

Food selection is limited: what appear to be locally owned Asian, burger and pizza options, and an array of snacking options (great for guilty pleasure not so much for health).

A Target briefly replaced long-time tenant Zellers but it almost as quickly as it opened. The mall recently announced plans to subdivide the space into other stores.

Although the mall underwent some renovations for Target, unlike others that went through a total renovation, the renovations appeared minimal.

Not that a make-over wouldn’t help this mall: my take-away impression of this mall was that it was depression in three-dimensions.

Many of the store fronts looked like dinosaurs of mall design from decades past; few having had been renovated in decades unless the store opened more recently than that.

Like the storefronts, the fixtures throughout the mall were original. For example, benches are metal mesh, typical of those found in public parks. The standard for most malls now is either plush seating (in more upscale malls) or wood fixtures (in more basic malls).

The sense of dread was augmented by the lighting: fluorescent lights covered by thin white plastic waffling, a standard design of the 80s and 90s.

That most of the major stores like Winners and Moore’s have private exterior entrances suggests two things: (1) They don’t want shoppers coming in through the mall; (2) the owners have even less incentive to make desperately needed renovations.

And those renovations are necessary because an attractive mall not only catches shoppers’ eyes, but also makes shoppers feel safe and comfortable.

What’s surprising is that the mall is owned by one of Canada’s largest and strongest mall managers—RioCan.

Perhaps the renovation of the Target space will bring much needed renovations to the rest of the mall but if Target failed to spur those, one cannot the latest remodeling of that space to have a halo effect on the rest of the mall.

The mall also needs a renovation of its website, which—like the mall—has a mid- to late-1990s aesthetic. It also has a directory of stores that lists categories for which the mall has no stores.

Mall at a Glance

Anchors: Winners and, in an outbuilding, Superstore.

National chains: Aldo, Bentley, Claire’s, Dollarama, Dynamite, Fairweather, Garage, Moore’s, Northern Reflections, SoftMoc, The Source Sport Chek, Stokes, Sunglass Hut

Variety of merchandise: Good, although not deep in any category, most categories covered from clothing and accessories, to electronics and household goods. Two of the most significant categories missing are pharmacies and furniture.

Prices are in the lower- to middle-ranges.

Special notes: Many stores have their own exterior entrances

Food court: Lacks a food court perse but has several stands and faster food options, including locally owned and operated Asian, burger and pizza places, and snack foods including donuts and pretzels.

Wikipedia page: None.

Website: http://www.charlottetownmall.ca/store/storesearchresult.ch2?category=42

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