Unique Winnipeg-based furniture retailer EQ3 is set to open a close to 44,000-square-foot flagship store at CF Polo Park in Winnipeg in part of the retail space formerly occupied by the mall’s Sears store.
Due to open in the fall of 2021, it is part of the overall redevelopment plan for the popular southern Manitoba destination shopping centre.
Josh Thomson, SVP of Development at Cadillac Fairview, said the owner of shopping centres across Canada is currently in the process of redeveloping the Polo Park Area which will include office space and additional retail opportunities.
“As part of this redevelopment, we are also in the process of considering residential development in the area. This represents an incredible opportunity to increase density at the premier shopping district in Winnipeg, especially at a time when cities across Canada will be looking for opportunities to spark economic activity as we plan for long-term recovery from the pandemic,” he said.
At CF Polo Park, Sears vacated its store in December 2017. The store was 260,000 square feet — 80,000 on main level, 80,000 on upper level, and 100,000 in the basement, which included an underground truck court.
Cadillac Fairview says redevelopment will cover 160,000 square feet, focusing on the main and upper floor of the former Sears store, however substantial work is being done to clean up the basement for future uses. The project will primarily include large non-major users (spaces over 15,000 square feet) as well as office uses.
“The entire exterior façade has been removed, and is being replaced with curtain wall glazing and other architecturally stunning materials such as metal panels,” said the shopping centre owner.
Work began in November 2018, and it will be completed this Summer.
The flagship EQ3 will be located on the lower level. On the upper level, 41,000 square feet will be taken by a large international company, still to be announced, for office use. Cadillac Fairview continues negotiations with some other prominent global brands for the other space.
“Given the major loading and truck court previously built by Sears, we would like to explore logistic uses if possible, among other retail uses,” said the company.
Mark Letain, President of EQ3, which was initially formed by the Winnipeg-based Palliser company, said the retailer is excited about opening its new concept and flagship location at CF Polo Park.
EQ3 began as a wholesale concept in 2001 as an opportunity to sell modern furniture. The concept was well received in the market. In 2005, the first store opened in Winnipeg. Currently, there are 17 locations — 12 in Canada (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Burlington, the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, and Quebec) and five in the United States (San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Connecticut).
Winnipeg is where the company does the manufacturing of its upholstery product line.
Letain said the target date for opening in CF Polo Park is in September.
“Our store in Winnipeg is very close to the Polo Park mall right now. But it’s a standalone on the edge of the parking lot of the Polo Park. When Sears basically went out of business in that space, I began conversations with (Cadillac Fairview) about getting a 15,000-square-foot space within that space,” said Letain. “But it seemed at that point they were looking for more of an anchor tenant to take up more space.
“We decided that given where our product line is headed and where we want to go in the future with deepening into our product line and extending our product line let’s try a larger format prototype. We’ve seen that work with Restoration Hardware and folks like that. So we decided to do it in our home city.”
Letain said the company’s biggest store right now is about 18,000 square feet with the average footprint being about 11,000 square feet.
Letain said CF Polo Park is the major destination mall for not only Winnipeg but for the entire region. The strongest lifestyle and luxury brands are located in that mall.
“When you look at the mall rankings for performance and sales per square foot, it typically always ranks in the top 10. It really is super regional. Not only does it draw in from Winnipeg but folks are coming from out of town and even other provinces. Northern Ontario or Saskatchewan,” he said.
“We believe it’s a destination mall and for us we think it’s great exposure for the brand and the right place and the right time to try this new larger format store.
“We really want to use this store to highlight our brand and inform people of our brand. A lot of folks don’t know we’re a made-in-Manitoba story. Some people don’t know we’re actually Canadian. So we really want to highlight our roots and we also want to highlight in that store this idea of buy local. Not only are we going to represent our own product line there which is made in Winnipeg, our upholstery line, but we’re also going to feature products that are made from other local manufacturers and we’re working on that and we’re really excited about that. We also want to highlight Canadian designers.”