News

New stores approved near Walmart

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Norfolk council this week approved the construction of 10,000 square feet of new retailing at the Walmart property on the Queensway East. In the works is a new restaurant, a pet store and a Carter’s children’s clothing store. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Norfolk council this week approved the construction of 10,000 square feet of new retailing at the Walmart property on the Queensway East. In the works is a new restaurant, a pet store and a Carter’s children’s clothing store. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

SIMCOE  - 

Local shoppers can be forgiven for thinking that Carter’s Men’s & Ladies Wear in Simcoe has branched off into children’s clothing.

Norfolk council this week approved the construction of two new retail outlets at the Walmart property on the Queensway East.

The chain store Carter’s is on deck as a tenant. The store will have a floor area of 4,000 square feet and will specialize in children’s clothing.

Meanwhile, Carter’s Men’s & Ladies Wear is located on Norfolk Street South. The family business was founded as Carter & Sons by the late Percy Carter – a past mayor of Simcoe -- in 1927.

More than 90 years later, the store is operated by Carter’s grandson Cam. Cam Carter took over from his father Herb in 1991.

Cam Carter isn’t worried that the twin Carter outlets will cause any problems. Thursday, he said it won’t hurt to have another franchise in town promoting the Carter brand.

“It’s a good name,” Cam Carter said. “We’ve been here for 90 years, so most of our customers know who we are. Some may get confused about the Carter’s on the highway, but I don’t think it’ll be a big deal.”

Norfolk council learned about Carter’s children’s wear during a public meeting under the Planning Act.

The Walmart property is owned by SmartCentres of Vaughan. The SmartCentres application appeared before council because the property-management firm needs a zoning amendment to establish an open-air outlet in this part of Simcoe for the sale of clothing.

The Ontario Municipal Board imposed the restriction in 2005. At the time, the community was debating the pros and cons of Walmart building on the Queensway.

Market-impact studies suggested additional shops on the property could cause closures and blight in downtown Simcoe. As a result, the OMB forbade the developer from establishing stores that sell clothing, jewelry and shoes.

Thirteen years later, SmartCentres has produced research saying the local market has matured to the point where it can support standalone clothing sales in this location.

In her report, Mimi Ward, president of Ward Land Economics of Toronto, identifies the local trading area as a block encompassing Port Rowan, Delhi, Waterford, Simcoe and Port Dover as well as Hagersville and Jarvis in Haldimand County.

This trade area has a population of about 66,800. This is projected to grow to 68,600 by 2023.

Non-food sales in this area are projected to increase from $403 million in 2017 to $439 million in 2023.

On the basis of these calculations, Ward Land Economics does not foresee an additional 4,000 square feet of clothing sales having an impact on downtowns in the local area. These findings were not challenged at Tuesday’s meeting.

For its part, Carter’s children’s wear sent a letter to the county in November saying it has a preference for “open air” outlets of the kind planned for the east side of the Walmart property. David Desjardins, Carter’s vice president of real estate, said the chain found nothing to its liking in downtown Simcoe.

“In the absence of municipal approval, it’s unlikely Carter’s (children’s wear) will enter the Simcoe market in the foreseeable future,” Desjardins said.

Carter’s children’s wear also has a long history. The chain was founded by William Carter in 1865 in Massachusetts. It remained a family business until 1990.

Today, Carter’s and its subsidiary Oshkosh B’Gosh are part of a publicly-traded company with more than 650 stores across North America.

During Tuesday’s public meeting, council also approved a second standalone commercial outlet on the Walmart property. The 2,670-square-foot building will house an as-yet unnamed restaurant.

The Carter’s shop occupies a section of a 7,400-square-foot standalone building. The other tenant is a pet store.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com