McNally Robinson blames Shops at Don Mills for Toronto store failure

McNally Robinson blames Shops at Don Mills for Toronto store failure

Bookstores are competing with digital technology, like e-readers (Photo by Mike Lee)

Earlier this week, we reported on over 30 stores that didn’t make it through 2009. The list included a handful of indie bookstores, such as McNally Robinson, which filed for bankruptcy in December and closed its newly opened Shops at Don Mills location. But unlike its compatriots, who’ve pointed to difficulties resulting from the economic downturn, chain stores, on-line retailers, increasing rents and e-readers, McNally is laying the blame for the closure largely on the Shops’ developer, Cadillac Fairview.

According to founder Paul McNally, Cadillac Fairview didn’t do enough to promote the centre, which is modelled on an American outdoor shopping villa. He complained to the Winnipeg Free Press that it failed to secure enough tenants and provide adequate signage to draw customers, griping, “One would think that Canada’s biggest retail developer might have done a better job.”

“[Even] Indigo would be crazy to move in [to the Shops],” Tory McNally, the company’s director of operations, told Quill and Quire. But Maureen Atkinson from the retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group dismisses the idea that signage would have made much difference. Signs would cause “a five per cent difference in [McNally’s] performance,” she said in the Globe and Mail. “Not a 50 per cent difference.”

Though about 20 per cent of the storefronts are still vacant (the Shops opened in the spring of 2009), not all the tenants are doing poorly. The Globe points to such successes as Mark McEwan’s gourmet grocery store (the chef plans to open a restaurant there in June), Anthropologie and Barbuti Fine Men’s Clothing, which moved to Don Mills from Bayview Village. The manager of the Shops said retailers are “achieving results well in excess of their expectations.”

The Shops’ true test may be this winter, when shoppers accustomed to the cozy confines of indoor malls will be faced with the choice of braving the cold at the Shops for Banana Republic and BCBG or driving to Bayview Village or Yorkdale instead.

Downturn wallops McNally [Winnipeg Free Press]

• McNally Robinson looks ahead to brighter days [Quill and Quire]

Bookstore’s closing not mall’s last chapter [Globe and Mail]