Walmart has officially announced today that it will be opening up a location in Prince Rupert. The announcement was for the purchase of 39 Zellers locations across Canada from Target, which owns the stores. The only new location to go in British Columbia will be here in Prince Rupert.
The powerful chain of big-box stores officially bought the lease for Zellers’s location at the Rupert Square Mall. According to the Mall’s manager, Tom Chang, the deal was worked quite some time ago but was not officially announced until today.
The corporation’s representatives say that they plan to have the location remodeled into a Walmart by the end of 2012.
As to what happens before then to the people who work at that location already, Walmart says that will be up to Zellers. But, the company says that it wants to encourage them and other people in Prince Rupert with retail experience to apply for jobs there for when it opens.
The location inside Prince Rupert Square Mall is small though, and the Zellers there is small even when compared to most other locations. If Rupertites are hoping for a Walmart equal to that in Terrace, simply judging by the current space available, that seems unlikely. Walmart says that its too early to say what departments would be included in such a small space, or if they will seek to renovate the space.
Small or not, having a Walmart in the city has been on many a Rupertite’s wish-list for quite some time. Day trips to Terrace are planned by some residents just so they can go shop at Walmart, where the selection is greater and prices for goods are sometimes noticeably less than what is being charged for something similar back in Prince Rupert.
“Each new Walmart store will deliver everyday low prices on the thousands of items Canadians need. We know that times are tough and we are committed to helping save Canadians money,” says Cheesewright, CEO of Walmart Canada.
It’s for this reason that Walmart has been criticized for many years for decimating locally-owned stores when it moves into a small community. The chain’s purchasing-power allows them to get goods for less and can undercut the prices charged by local stores which can force them out of business. With residents already willing to travel over 100 kilometres just to go to a Walmart just to save money, how this will impact small businesses here remains to be seen.