Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Shoppers Drug Mart in Village creating buzz

Expanded store trying to land restaurateur for second floor

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STORE renovations don't usually generate a lot of excitement, but Shoppers Drug Mart in Osborne Village is no run-of-the-mill remodelling.

The multimillion-dollar expansion, which will nearly double the size of the original 10,000-square-foot store to 18,000 square feet, is widely seen as much more than a pharmacy -- it's a catalyst to bring more business to the area.

Company spokeswoman Tammy Smitham said consumers will see a much more modern space, including a 2,000-square-foot beauty boutique store-within-a-store selling prestige cosmetics and fragrances, an updated pharmacy and an expanded post office.

The big-box retailer has also built a 6,000-square-foot space on the second floor it hopes to lease out to a restaurateur.

"It is roughed in for a restaurant. We haven't confirmed anything yet. We're still open for proposals from people," Smitham said, noting there is also room for a "modest" patio.

If Shoppers' internal real estate specialists are able to sign an interested eatery, it could go a long way toward re-establishing Osborne Village's restaurant equilibrium in the wake of last year's closing of Vi Ann Restaurant. The owners of the Grove Pub have already begun working on a new concept in the old Papa George's space just down the block and hope to pour their first pint in October.

Stephanie Meilleur, executive director of the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone (BIZ), said the new and expanded Shoppers should prove beneficial to many other businesses in the area.

"The shopping that Shoppers Drug Mart offers to the community is a great advantage. We're keeping all of our shoppers in the area now. And because the store is much larger and has more to offer, it will draw more people to this area," she said. "We're also (happy to welcome) restaurants, especially ones with patios."

Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi said she has been impressed with the detail put in by Shoppers Drug Mart to ensure the overhauled building fits in with the neighbourhood.

"It's brick and it's going to be matching the building kitty-corner in its design. In spite of the fact it's a larger store, a lot of effort was put in to having it fit in with the character and the streetscaping of the neighbourhood.

"They're going the extra mile. Before, it was pretty ugly," she said.

The building will also have panels featuring historic images of Osborne Village on the Roslyn Road side and at the back of the building.

A covered walkway between Shoppers and Safeway will also make for a much safer environment for pedestrians, she said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 29, 2013 B7

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