A rapidly changing and highly competitive marketplace is prompting the Blue Water Bridge Duty Free Shop to invest more than $3 million in a major expansion.
The award-winning store, built only 12 years ago on the bridge plaza in Point Edward, has been renovated three times since, each time taking more space from the warehouse to dedicate to retail, says owner Gerry Lee.
“It’s a big decision for us to make this $3 million to $4 million investment, but we feel we need to keep changing to fit the new retail reality out there,” Lee said, pointing to increasing online competition and the lure of U.S. big box stores.
Structural steel is going up west of the existing building to accommodate the 8,600-square-foot addition. When construction is complete in early July, retail space at the duty free shop will have expanded by 4,480 square feet for a shopping area totaling 13,000 square feet. The new warehouse will measure 6,600 square feet.
“We’ll have a whole new section with new product lines that will rotate,” said Lee. “We’ll also be expanding our liquor, wine, jewelry, perfume and cosmetic lines, as well as luxury items like purses and sunglasses.”
Approximately 85% of the existing sales floor is under renovation this winter. But Lee said he and his staff are doing their best to keep the disruption to a minimum. He said they look forward to a bigger, redesigned shop that will be in a good position to compete with the American market.
HYDRO ONE MAKES A SPLASH
The committee working hard to raise $100,000 toward a kids’ splash pad in Brander Park, recently received a $10,000 cheque from Hydro One’s “Power Play” program, which gives grants to build recreational facilities.
“We are very enthusiastic about making it happen,” says Anne Hazzard, committee co-chair with Dave Cram.
Brander Park is one of the many linear parks on the St. Clair Parkway. St. Clair Township has committed to matching every dollar raised for the $200,000 project.
Hydro One’s donation means the committee has raised more than $60,000 and is well on its way to reaching its goal. The next fundraiser is a pancake breakfast at the Port Lambton Community Centre April 12 from 8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.
A CHANGING WORKPLACE
Dr. Linda Duxbury from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business will be guest speaker at the Dante Club April 10 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. She is talking about challenges and opportunities of a multigenerational workforce.
Presented by the Southwest Region Public Health Workplace Network and Western Region Workforce Planning Boards. To register, contact the Lambton County public health offices at 519-383-8331.
The first bridal show hosted by Sarnia’s Memorable Moments takes place March 16 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Lambton Inn. Admission is $5 per person.
LUNCH WITH YOUR LOCAL MPP AND MP
The local Chamber of Commerce hosts our elected senior government reps on March 28 at the Best Western Guildwood Inn.
Registration takes place at 11:45 a.m. Chamber members pay $35. Non-members pay $60. Lunch starts at noon.
– Cathy Dobson
The Business Journal features all things interesting about the local business community. Whether it’s upcoming events, community involvement or new investment, email Cathy Dobson at [email protected] or call her at 226-932-0985.