Toronto’s upscale Bayview Village Shopping Centre occupies a unique space in the city’s retail realm — it serves a local base of affluent shoppers with a unique variety of local and international retailers, differentiating its offerings from a range of larger regional malls.
The formula is working. Bayview Village was recently recognized as being one of Canada’s most productive malls in terms of sales per square foot by Retail Council of Canada’s Shopping Centre Study. It’s a remarkable feat for a mall that lacks traditional large anchors found in most Canadian fashion malls — or an Apple Store, for that matter.
Bayview Village is managed by QuadReal Property Group, an independent and privately held global real estate company with managed assets totalling more than $18-billion. QuadReal is a wholly owned company of one of Canada’s largest institutional pension fund managers from British Columbia. In November of 2013, the company paid $500 million for the centre, making it the biggest property sale of that year in all of Canada.
QuadReal is planning a mixed-use expansion of Bayview Village, which will include additional retail and a new residential component to complement the existing 320,000 square foot enclosed regional shopping centre, which is shadow anchored by a 95,000 square foot Loblaws food store. More details regarding the expansion will follow.
Bayview Village’s location is notable, boasting a catchment area that includes some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the Greater Toronto Area. It features exceptional access from both the Bayview TTC Subway Station (Line 4) as well as from the busy 401 Freeway, Sheppard Avenue and Bayview Avenue. The area’s population is also booming with the construction of new condominium towers nearby and as well, the mall’s on-site population will eventually grow with the addition of new residential towers over the next several years.
The 110+ retailer enclosed Bayview Village opened in 1963 and, at the time, was an open-air shopping centre catering to the local community. While other similar centres closed over the years, Bayview Village’s owners continued to invest in the centre, adding a roof in 1977 and adding a variety of unique retailers — some of which can’t be found elsewhere in Canada, or even in North America.
While Bayview Village lacks traditional major anchors such as Hudson’s Bay and Sears, the mall houses locations for a number of popular retailers, as well as two grocery anchors. Mall ‘mini-anchors’ include a Chapters bookstore (30,365 sq ft), Gap/Gap Kids (13,700 sq ft), LCBO (26,000 sq ft), Shoppers Drug Mart (12,200 sq ft), and even a small branch of the Toronto Public Library. Pusateri’s Fine Foods operates an attractive 9,325 square foot store in the mall, offering upscale groceries as well as grab-and-go offerings.
The mall’s tenant mix is unlike any mall in Toronto — or Canada, for that matter. It boasts a high concentration of “the only one in North America stores,” according to Karim Rashwan, who wrote about Bayview Village for Retail Insider in September of 2014. Betty Barclay, Luisa Cerano, Laurèl, Riani, and Basler all have mono-brand shops in the mall, all of which are the only North American outpost for each retailer. A number of other upscale retailers have only a handful of locations in Canada, with Bayview Village being one of them. These include children’s retailer Jacadi, kitchenware retailer Le Creuset, fashion retailers m0851, Andrews, Strellson, TNT The New Trend, Brooks Brothers, and Sarah Pacini, not to mention Canadian fashion brands: Pink Tartan, Mirabelli, Vivian Shyu, Judith & Charles, and Brian Bailey.
Bayview Village also boasts nine footwear retailers, all relatively upscale. These include David’s Footwear (carrying luxury brands such as Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo), Capezio, ECCO, GEOX, New Balance, Nine West, Browns Shoes, and Stuart Weitzman. As well, Canada’s leading shoe designer Ron White (aka Canada’s ‘Shoe-Ru’) has a store in the mall — one of only five in the chain.
Instead of the traditional mall food court (or 'food hall' as some malls are now calling them), Bayview Village features a collection of restaurants along its western corridor, called ‘Restaurant Lane’, featuring cuisine ranging from upscale Chinese food to Middle-Eastern to Italian. On a recent visit during a weekday noon hour, all restaurants appeared to be full.
Overall, the mall’s interior is understated and elegant. Hallways are wide because they lack kiosks found in many malls, and lighting is kept moderate so as to not overwhelm shoppers. Ample seating is provided throughout, encouraging shoppers to take a moment to relax, be it on a sofa or a table with chairs. The centre court beside the concierge desk is notable — gigantic crystal chandeliers hang from above, adding a level of drama and grandeur to the area. The landlord has set out strict design guidelines for retailers — high quality exteriors should also appear to mimic street-front storefronts, as opposed to the typical open facades found in major shopping malls. The result is a comfortably upscale interior that is attractive, and almost ‘residential’. The residential feel of the centre is also reflected in its use of lamps, wall textures, and fixturing both in common areas as well as in washrooms. The mall therefore reflects the neighbourhood at large — elegant and upscale.
Services are an important component of Bayview Village, and the mall features a concierge desk near the chandelier centre court, and it’s not just an information service — Bayview Village’s concierge is a 'one-stop shop', that can make various appointments (such as manicures), restaurant reservations, arrange for car detailing while customers shop, gift wrapping, assistance carrying parcels, connecting shoppers with the mall’s personal shopper, and various other services. It’s all part of the “glam experience”, according to mall Marketing Director Melissa Evans-Lee — the target consumer is female aged 30+ with an annual household income exceeding $100,000.
Toronto is a city with some of Canada’s biggest and busiest malls. Bayview Village stands out, as discussed above, for being a relaxed, upscale fashion centre with a unique tenant mix, as well as extensive services lacking in many larger centres. Retail Insider will now be regularly featuring shopping centre profiles, targeting different malls across the country.