THUNDER BAY -- Mayor Keith Hobbs says residents leaving town for shopping trips is driving him crazy.
Keeping shoppers and their money in the city was a key message behind a recent Facebook post the mayor made after returning from vacation. In the post he wished that 2013 will be the year for less violence, building the city economy and landing a deal to build a Costco Wholesale.
Hobbs said he’s talked to a few developers, but no one officially from Costco.
Despite that, the mayor remains optimistic that he and the city could finally attract the large retail store to the city.
“We have to promote Thunder Bay better and promote shopping,” Hobbs said. “It’s not just a Costco. To do that we have to get what Duluth has here and make Thunder Bay a regional shopping area.
"I would like to see a Costco, maybe a Kohl's and all those big box stores that are attracting all those shoppers down to Duluth.”
And the mayor isn't buying the theory that big box stores hurt small and local businesses.
The city has three Wal-Marts and will soon have a Toys 'R' Us and a Target. Hobbs argues those big box stores will only compete among themselves and will not have a significant impact on the smaller local businesses.
The Bay and Algoma Street area is a prime example of local businesses doing well despite the city having three Wal-Marts.
If the city did get a Costco, Hobbs would like to see it by the highway close to the Real Canadian Superstore.
“We have a corridor already if you look at where the Thunder Centre is,” he said. “We have Superstore and that whole area seems to be a big box store corridor. Obviously, we aren’t going to put them in the downtown cores.
"You’re always going to have Ontario Municipal Board hearings on competition. I’m not afraid of that. We have to look at progress."