By Devon Johnson
The south expansion wing at Richmond Hill’s Hillcrest Mall opens today (Thursday October 20). The expansion adds a 44,000 square foot Sporting Life and a 21,000 square foot H&M location to the 110 store shopping centre.
Hillcrest Mall's manager and co-owner Oxford Properties has invested about $90-million dollars into the Richmond Hill property, and has been responsible for attracting and securing big brand tenants such as Sephora, DAVIDsTEA, Sunglass Hut and Chatime, all of which opened in the first half of 2016. More retailers are signed on to open at Hillcrest, including Aritzia, Pandora, Starbucks Coffee, and Rockport.
Hillcrest Mall has been refocusing its retail strategy in what general manager Brian Marentette calls the “small mall renaissance”. “The renaissance of the small mall means that Hillcrest offers the big brands shoppers want in a comfortable local environment. We’ve completely re-set our anchor stores to offer top-tier lifestyle brands, with the service they have come to know from Hillcrest", he said.
There's a trend in the Greater Toronto Area, where larger retailers such as H&M and Sporting Life are finding smaller malls an attractive option. Smaller malls such as Hillcrest Mall are easy-to-navigate with a small footprint, and can provide more personalized guest services. This gives smaller malls such as Hillcrest Mall a great way to compete against malls with a larger selection of stores.
Larger retailers might also see the value of being close to families and couples with a higher income. In many of Toronto's suburban towns and cities, families and couples earn higher incomes than downtown families, with the average Richmond Hill couple making $114,000 per year. The mall also lies in short distance to over a dozen new condominium developments (Xpression Condos, Grand Genesis) and will soon be in proximity to the York Region subway extension.
The south wing expansion isn't the first major change the mall has seen. Hillcrest Mall formerly housed two separate Hudson's Bay locations - one location for women's fashion, and another location for men's fashion and home furnishings. In 2015, Hudson's Bay joined all departments into one store by shuttering their "home and men's store", and renovating/expanding the "women's fashion store" by 48,000 square feet.
To celebrate the expansion of Hillcrest Mall, a unique pop-up truck will be hitting the streets of the Richmond Hill area from October 26-28. The truck will feature fall and winter trends from different retailers within Hillcrest Mall. Visitors to the truck will have the chance to win one of the five outfits displayed.
Shoppers can also win a $500 shopping spree through a 'Snap, Share & Win' contest, and Richmond Hill residents are eligible to win a 'Surprise Visit from Hillcrest' where entrants can win a special prize box valued up to $150.