The latest major retail outlet to set up in North Battleford’s downtown core is now open.
The new Giant Tiger store at the corner of 11th Avenue and 102nd Street held its grand opening ceremonies on Saturday morning.
The store saw long lines of customers early on, as local residents looked to capitalize on deals the store had going. The store had provided some giveaway gift cards to those in attendance.
“We have lineups in the store about 40 to 50 deep and we have six tills open,” said Steve Gray, the store manager.
The ribbon cutting was held Saturday and attended by dignitaries including Mayor Ryan Bater. The company’s mascot , Friendly, the Giant Tiger, also attended.
Representatives from The Lighthouse Serving the Battlefords received a checque for $1,000 from Giant Tiger. The Lighthouse also held a fund-raising barbeque at the location during the day.
The store is the latest location for Giant Tiger, a privately-held Canadian company with over 250 locations and 8,500 employees across the country.
Civic officials have counted on the arrival of their latest location as a cornerstone of their ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.
The city had performed major upgrades on nearby 101st Street over the past couple of years, and more upgrades are coming to 100th Street this year.
Already, downtown has attracted one major new development. A new Magic Lantern Theatre, called the Capitol Annex, opened up 101st Street just a month ago.
Part of the revitalization effort has included the introduction of downtown tax incentives to spur on development. The Giant Tiger build is one of those to receive an incentive.
The property’s developer CR Developments Inc. applied for and was granted the downtown tax incentive in December 2018 for 100 percent of municipal taxes for the first three years, with 75 per cent abated in year four and 50 per cent in year five. The project value was estimated at $2.5 million.
At the time Mayor Bater justified the incentive by saying it was a “big investment by the city, but it’s also a big investment by this company.”
The new Giant Tiger is located on land once occupied by the infamous building that residents referred to as the “Pigeon Hotel.”
That structure had been a symbol for urban blight in the downtown core before it was demolished in 2015.
The land stood then stood vacant until 2018, when construction began on the new 15,785-square foot retail property.
The new store has meant new jobs in the city. A job fair was held in early April and 40 when local staff were hired.
The store itself is described as a family discount store, stocked with “affordable, on-trend home and family fashions, brand-name groceries and everyday necessities at low prices,” according to a company news release.
Gray described the products as “good value for good prices – we keep our prices low so we’re very competitive with the market.”
As for why the store opted to locate on 102nd Street, Gray said a number of feasibility studies were done and those pointed to the need for a downtown location.
In particular, a retail void could be filled for local residents, particularly seniors in the highrise residential buildings just a few blocks away.
“There are a lot of elderly in the area that are in need of our services, so we were happy to come downtown,” said Gray.
Gray pointed to the food aspect of the store as something that would benefit seniors in the community. He said their products were fresh and competitively priced, and the store will be open seven days a week.
At council Monday night, Mayor Bater spoke about the opening of Giant Tiger, which he called a "great development for downtown North Battleford". He also pointed to the great interest shown from local customers when the business opened at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning.
"I was there, the city manager was there as well. I think we arrived around 7 in the morning and there was already 30 people in the lineup," said Bater. "And then by the time they opened they had over 100 people. So there was a lot of interest from the community in that enterprise."