Sahali Centre Mall merchants anticipate brighter future with Target as anchor

It's not an official tagline, but the chatter among tenants is that Sahali Centre Mall is "on Target."

In 10 months, the much-anticipated retailing giant Target is expected to open its doors to a red and white world of designer goods at a discount.

"We're definitely feeling optimistic," said Nicky Plato, mall marketing and property manager.

"We're going to lease out all of our vacant units."

Fortunes of the mall have ebbed and flowed along with major tenants. While the market-themed Safeway remains a draw, the other anchor, long-suffering Zellers, failed to generate the kind of business it did while on the North Shore.

It wasn't the local store's flagging fortunes that brought an end, however.

Instead, it was a blockbuster deal between Hudson's Bay Co. and Target to sell Zellers' leases to allow the American retailer to come into Canada with a power presence.

That presence will include Kamloops.

The mall hopes to boost today's tenancy rate of about 65 per cent to 100 per cent. The mall was 100 per cent occupied more than seven years ago.

There will be a down period from November until March, the gap between Zellers closing and Target's estimated opening date.

In addition to the drawing power of Target, Plato said the mall remains a good deal in the market when compared with competing locations.

The price was one of the draws for Simply Computing when it located there seven years ago.

Manager Regan Hayes has seen traffic and tenants come and go, including Sport Mart and Royal Bank.

Despite those losses, Hayes said his own counts have shown traffic has grown by as much as tenfold at times since then.

What about Target?

Hayes understands the cars Target will bring will fill the more than 1,000 stalls available in the parking lot. For the Apple retailer, Target will sell competing products. He's not afraid of the competition, just not certain shoppers will wander the rest of the mall unless there are promotions to encourage them.

But if the mall reaches 100-per-cent occupancy, based on expectation of Target's draw, that itself should draw more customers to the blend of independent retailers," Hayes said.

"The more stores are filled out, the better it will help."

Plato said new retailers are coming on as Target gets closer. That includes Ceylon Hair Studio, which has several locations in Kamloops as well as a candy store.

"I hope we'll see at least 50 per cent more pedestrian traffic. We're very excited. We have the best parking in Kamloops."

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