There is a lot happening on that very sensitive part of Delta, the floodplain that houses Class 1 agricultural land, the Port of Vancouver and of course the new 1.2 million square foot mega mall on First Nations land.
Today, one of the first businesses in Tsawwassen Commons, which is a locally serving new mall to the north of the very big consumer mall opened for business. That mall is 550,000 square feet, roughly half the size of the mega mall. And it is specifically designed to capture consumers within a seven minute drive. What that really means is that it is designed not for regional attraction, but to take business from customers living in Tsawwassen and Ladner, people currently using local services there or elsewhere.
The South Delta Sustainable Business Strategy sponsored by the Corporation of Delta was released last year and worked through 58 recommendations for businesses in Ladner and Tsawwassen. The bottom line-how to retain multi-use commercial buildings, and walkable and vibrant downtowns for the sake of the two communities.
The Strategy also noted that every business would be impacted by the Megamall and the more locally serving Tsawwassen Commons, especially in the hardware retailing area, where a decrease of 20 per cent of business was forecasted. The Home Hardware stores in Tsawwassen is renown for good customer service and advice, and a staff person is the first to greet you when you come to the door or are looking lost and need advice. Their course of action is to continue excellent personal customer service, which they know cannot be duplicated outside of the community. Several of the boutique clothiers in Tsawwassen have the same strategy. They are often first to market with top of the line clothes at very competitive prices compared to the Vancouver market, offer custom fitting and personalized ordering. You can’t beat that.
However the CBC reports that many south Delta business owners have seen their business drop by 50 per cent in comparison to last year at this time.“There is a lot less pedestrian traffic. There definitely seems to be an exodus of people that aren’t here.” Merchants also reported that their existing leases in south Delta were up to two-thirds cheaper than the rents at the new mall location, allowing them to stay competitive in their communities.
The Tsawwassen Mega Mall has been open two weeks and while very busy on the weekends and the Thanksgiving holiday, it is very lightly used during weekdays and evenings. Hopefully the local small businesses which are the backbone of Tsawwassen and Ladner will see returning consumer shopping patterns in the coming months.