The manager of a new building store that held grand opening events in Saanich last week says his company will play an active part in the community.
“So when Lowe’s opens a store…we just don’t open the store to the public. We also invest ourselves in the community,” said Tony Cooper. He made those comments last week as Lowe’s Canada marked the opening of its new Tillicum Mall location, the company’ first store in the Greater Victoria area, one of the four new stores that the chain has opened in British Columbia in recent months.
According to company statistics, the store represents an approximate local investment of more than $25 million and employs 137 people, most of them locals.
Thursday’s grand opening attracted more than 50 people including company officials and several local dignitaries such as Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell, who opened the store by sawing through a wooden board.
As part of this ‘board cutting,’ Lowe’s Canada donated $10,000 to Tillicum elementary school to help support landscape improvements to the school’s grounds.
“We’re proud to be here and appreciate the opportunity to do work with local organizations, to get to know each other and support the needs of the community,” said Jim Caldwell, executive vice-president of Lowe’s Canada, Big Box Retail. Fred Pagotto, Lowe’s Canada’s B.C. market director, said this donation was part of Lowe’s commitment to build deep community roots.
“If we are going to be a true community partner, then we have to invest in the community for its success,” he said. “Ultimately, we believe in having a family environment, and investing in the community is creating a foundation for them to be able to flourish.”
Sue Ottenbreit, vice-principal at nearby Tilicum elementary, said Lowe’s commitment thrilled her school.
“When we heard it was $10,000, there were staff doing little jigs in the staff room, because they were so thrilled that a business like this would recognize a small elementary school like ours,” she said.
Ottenbreit said several Lowe staff members have already reached out to the school to ask about its specific needs and offer assistance.
The money goes towards a variety of projects, said Ottenbreit. They include an unfinished nature playground with various types of elements such as logs and stepping stones.
“The children love it,” she says, adding other groups also use the school’s outdoor space.
The school also hopes to improve its two primary gardening boxes. “We have got four kindergarten classes, who all like to plant spring gardens. Well, two little boxes [are] not going to cut it.”
Work on these various projects will get underway as soon as possible, said Ottenbreit, who believes Lowe’s arrival will make a big difference for the community.
“This is really going to be huge for this area, for the mall, for the economics of this general Tillicum area.”
Leigh Parry, who owns the Saigon Char-Broil and Edo Japanese Restaurant food outlets in Tillicum Mall, agrees.
She expects the presence of Lowe’s to be a catalyst for increased business, because of its location and “very reasonable” price point.
“I believe they will be strong anchors for this mall and they will do well the way they are set up,” she said.
According to Parry’s estimate, traffic through the mall has already increased by some 30 per cent.
Previous corporate tenants in the space that Lowe’s now occupies included Zellers and Target.
Target replaced Zellers when it purchased the chain from Hudson’s Bay Company in January 2011 as part of an expansion into Canada.
But Target’s presence in Canada was short-lived and ceased in January 2014 when it announced that it would be closing all of its 133 Canadian locations, including its Tillicum Mall store.