Shoppers World Brampton celebrates 50th anniversary
Photo By: Surjit Singh Flora
By: Surjit Singh Flora
Since 1969, the mall has been home to long-defunct department stores and a waterslide that was once operated by a tenant known as White Water.
Bramptonians gathered at Shoppers World Brampton on November 9, 2019, to celebrate a milestone; it’s the 50th anniversary of SWB.
Shoppers World Brampton commemorated its big 5-0 with festivities including a pop-up museum, cultural and community performances, and guest speakers from the City of Brampton, Government of Ontario and Federal Canada, and RioCan.
The pop-up museum highlighted memories over the decades and included historic photos of the centre.
MP Sonia Sidhu elect Brampton South and Brampton City Councillor Jeff Bowman, who was acting mayor while Mayor Brown was on a Business trip, former councilor John Sanderson ward 3-4, Regional director of operations for central Ontario RioCan-Steve Stevens, were guest speakers.
Two stores in the centre, Peoples Jewellers and Bank of Montreal, received plaques to commemorate them being the two longest-standing retail tenants.
While General Manager, Shoppers World Brampton Penny Karas said in her speech that “Brampton has evolved tremendously over my 20-plus years as General Manager of Shoppers World Brampton, but one thing remains constant – this shopping centre continues to be a beloved emblem of Brampton’s historic Peel Village,”
“Community members of all ages, across the City of Brampton, have fond memories of time spent in this centre over the past 50 years, and I’m incredibly proud to be celebrating five decades as a hub for connection and exploration.”
Shoppers World Brampton’s big celebration followed RioCan’s recent announcement to revamp the centre into a walkable, cyclable, transit-oriented, multi-use community with a large focus on accessibility.
History of the Mall:
In 1961, Elder Mines & Development Ltd. and Peel Village Developments created Shoppers World Danforth. The targeted completion date was March 1962.
The two developers merged into a new company, Peel-Elder Limited, and began the development of Shopper’s World Brampton on a farmer’s field that had been purchased by Charles F. Watson of Peel-Elder Ltd. Peel-Elder Ltd. was also the developer of the Brampton’s Peel Village community. In 1961, planned tenants were Loblaws, Zellers, Yells, Bata Shoe, a Maher shoe store, Lady Ellis dress shop, Bi-Rite Drugs, Tip Top Tailors and banks. In all, it planned 55 stores, plus a department store, bowling alleys, and a movie theatre. A 1963 advertorial for Peel Village describes the mall with 57 shops.
Opening and early years
It opened in 1969 as Brampton’s first indoor mall. Major tenants at the time were Kmart, Dominion, and Canada Safeway, with a total of 25 stores. The movie theatre closed after several years. It was gutted and re-opened as a Jumbo Video.
In 1971, Simpsons Ltd. decided to build a location of its department store at the mall, at a cost in excess of $2 million. The first of six scheduled locations, it was to open in August 1972.The 92,000 square foot Brampton site was designed for higher sales, with higher cabinets and 85% selling space, compared to the chain’s usual 70% usage. Simpsons’ policy was to hold equity interest in its landlords, resulting in it purchasing $5 million of Peel-Elder stock, simultaneous to Hambros Corp. of Canada doing the same; each held roughly 15% of the corporation. The funds were earmarked for expansion of the Brampton and Danforth malls, build high rises in Peel Village, and Preston’s Peel Valley Highlands.
“Phase Two” renovations, the 1980s
The 1972 expansion increased the mall to 118 stores and 600,000 square feet, from its previous 25 stores, 350,000 square-foot maximum. By the opening day, Charles Elder envisioned 140 stores, 1 million square feet of retail, and an office building.
When Dominion and Simpsons decided to build more extensive, more modern facilities in the mall, owners Kesmark Ltd. renovated the area they had occupied as “Phase Two” of the mall. The multimillion-dollar project, which featured 30 new stores, brought the mall’s total to 185. Phase Two opened March 10, 1982.
An indoor water park, White Water, was briefly at the mall from 1984 to 1985.
In 1997, the mall was owned by Pension fund Realty Limited, a privately held real estate company owned by several Canada’s largest institutional investors.
As of February 2000, OMERS had owned Shoppers World for roughly five years. It swapped Shoppers World for a 2.5% equity stake in RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust. RioCan was to finance the balance of the $46.5 million prices with an $18.5 million mortgage on the site.
A massive renovation of the shopping complex brought a new wave of customers to come in. Shoppers World Brampton is home to some of Brampton’s oldest family-operated businesses. In recent times, Shoppers World Brampton has hosted less traffic. Although still busy, many newer malls have taken the role Shopper’s World once played, including Bramalea City Centre and Heartland Town Centre in nearby Mississauga.
A Target store opened on March 19, 2013, in the space that had been occupied by Zellers and previously Kmart. This location was one of the first 24 locations to open in Canada. It closed in 2015 when Target withdrew operations in Canada. The space is now the home to a Giant Tiger, GoodLife Fitness, Staples, and a JYSK.
The addition of a Canadian Tire big-box store to the Main Street side of the mall significantly changed the facade of the mall. Many smaller stores were moved or closed to allow for the inclusion of this additional anchor store, which required demolishing the first bus terminal and a mall corridor leading to it and constructing a new big-box store on the east side of the mall in its place. Canadian Tire had its grand opening week, July 12-15th, 2001. Staples Business Depot, another big-box format store, also moved into the mall in the locations previously held by Pascals and later, Winners. The Bay closed in May 2007, and the location later became home to a Sears Outlet Store. Price Chopper closed a few months later and has since been replaced by the multi-ethnic Oceans Fresh Food Market, which opened in July 2008.