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Historic Hudson’s Bay store in Banff to close

It’s the end of the line for The Bay in Banff.

Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay Company announced its department store at 125 Banff Ave. will shut its doors in August.

It’s a decision the company said reflects its vision for the future as well as market changes.

“While these decisions are difficult, they are the right ones for our business,” said Tiffany Bourré, a spokeperson for the Hudson’s Bay Co., in a statement sent to CBC News.

“We are committed to treating every associate with respect and fairness through this process, and transfer opportunities will be explored where feasible.”

Last month, the company announced it was laying off two per cent of its total workforce, estimated to be about 250 employees, in corporate roles largely within Canada.

She did not say how many workers could be laid off as a result of the Banff Avenue closure.

historic hudsons bay store in banff to close
Tourists and locals mix on the busy downtown streets of Banff, Alta. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada )

The Hudson Bay Company has operated stores in the tourist town for at least 80 years. The first department store opened in 1935 and was located at Caribou Corner on 202 Banff Ave.

That building is standing today — it’s a mall with retail shops and restaurants.

In 1947, the company moved to its current location at 125 Banff Ave. and expanded in 1979. The store covers around 20,000 square feet and has two levels. 

‘Cultural contributor’

It sells everything you’d expect to find at any Bay department store across Canada, including accessories, clothing and shoes, as well as the iconic HBC stripes merchandise that’s become synonymous with the brand.

While it may not be the most popular store it town for locals, a retail expert said it’ll be missed by a specific group in particular. 

“It’s a wonderful place that is really going to be missed by all of the Japanese tourists, because it’s a tourist store, it’s not really a Bay department store,” said Jim Danahy the CEO of CustomerLAB.

“There’s no way that store was a significant contributor, it was a cultural contributor … but a store, in a community of that size, is not the Bay’s model.”

He doubts the company’s total sales will take a hit from the closure of the Banff Avenue location, and that those who shopped there will just revert to online shopping.

The company said it is also shutting another Alberta store at the same time — at the Londonderry Mall in northeast Edmonton.

There is no word on what will open in place of The Bay in Banff or whether it will return to the tourist town using a different retail model.

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