When Gloria Gabrijelcic started working at Sears, the department store was a freestanding structure where Intercity Shopping Centre is today.
Then 16, Gabrijelcic said the mall was then known as Intercity Plaza and she can remember a Woolworth’s, Bank of Commerce, Bata shoe store, grocery store and a furniture store called Bad Boys.
“The Sears at that time had a garage that was separate and we had our own Sears store separate and then the mall started building,” said Gabrijelcic, now the operations manager for Sears in the mall.
Gabrijelcic was on hand in the mall’s food court Monday for Intercity Shopping Centre’s 30th anniversary celebration and said she’s seen the mall undergo many changes over the years.
“As a 16-year-old when you start to work, you just don’t think of these things,” she said, noting the changes she’s seen from the parking lot to the number of retailers that have come and gone.
There are also the customers, many have changed, but there are also regulars.
“You get to know them,” Gabrijelcic said. “I’ve worked for the company for many years, longer than 30, and the same customers are still coming back.”
Kristine Postans has also worked at Sears since it was separate from the mall and had its own garage and gas pumps.
She said the believes the mall has thrived because of its central location in the city. And it’s also been a popular hangout for youth.
“I’ve been here for more than 30 years … and it’s just the energy I guess. The customers, the love of the customer. That’s why I’ve stayed so long,” Postans said. “I enjoy looking after them and I enjoy seeing them get what they want.”
There have been so many changes over the past three decades that Intercity Shopping Centre’s general manager Stacey Ball couldn’t even begin to list them.
But while there have been changes, and more coming with Zellers soon to be transformed into a Target, there are some things that haven’t changed.
“We do have a lot of existing tenants that have been here all 30 years as well as employees,” Ball said.
A&W and Laura Secord have always been food court staples and Sears, Foot Locker, Coles and Zellers have been there throughout the 30 years.
Naturalizer shoe store and Japan Camera have all been there since the beginning, but Naturalizer is soon closing as the owner is retiring and Japan Camera is moving to a new location.
“Right now we have over 100 stores and services and we’ve probably seen just as many come and go over the years,” Ball said. “Some of them have seen great success in Thunder Bay. Some of them have had issues Canadian-wide … and for those reasons left the market.”
Ball expects the mall to be at full capacity this time next year and while management is estimating conservatively when it comes to how Target will perform, they are expecting a significant impact.
“My hope and my guess is that it will also have an impact perhaps on cross-border shopping,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s going to eliminate cross-border shopping, but I do think it may encourage people to spend less money or perhaps less time in the United States.”
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