“They have a bit more merchandise to sell off,” said Mayor Greg Dionne, the former manager of Gateway Mall.
Bev Isbister, the manager on duty on Friday, added that the Zellers received merchandise from other stores, which factored into the extension.
“No one has been laid off or anything. All of our employees are still working. Most of them are working full time,” she said. “It’s very labour intensive to move things and condense the store down. Square-footage wise, I would say about half (the store) is probably empty.”
Dionne said that while he hasn’t been briefed on the negotiations for a new tenant that the current Gateway Mall manager is engaged in, a process is in place to sign some big-box units for the location.
“They have one big box space left,” he said. “I know they have three big boxes done, and I know they have one left.”
The decision to close down 64 Zellers locations was announced in July 2012 after Target Corp. bought leaseholds for 189 locations across Canada in 2011.
At the time of the announcement, there was still the possibility for certain locations — including the one in Prince Albert — to be re-branded, according to Hudson’s Bay Company spokesperson Tiffany Bourré.
“All Zellers but three will be closing,” she confirmed on Friday. “One is in Toronto, one is in Montreal and one is in White Rock, B.C.
“The three remaining Zellers will still be Zellers stores, but there will be an adjustment,” Bourré continued. “Those were the three locations selected. The remaining Zellers are closing.”
The average Zellers has about 100 associates, Bourré said. She noted that the Zellers in Prince Albert is currently in the liquidation process.
“There are a lot of sales going on right now. Obviously, we’re not replenishing the inventory,” she said. “They’re significant sales and those increase the closer they get to the final closure date.”
For now, it remains business as usual at the Prince Albert Zellers location.
“Once a week usually the percentages change — the discounts increase — and right now, the discounts range from 10 to 80 per cent,” Isbister said.