Hudson’s Bay in Downtown Winnipeg marks 94 years in business as it prepares to close

WINNIPEG — The iconic Hudson’s Bay location in Downtown is marking 94 years in business ahead of its closure in February 2021.

Hudson’s Bay Downtown Winnipeg department storeHudson’s Bay Company Archives/ City of Winnipeg historical buildings committee report

The landmark store opened its doors on Nov. 18. 1926, and it saw many changes over the years, including converting the basement into a Zellers, and closing down the Paddlewheel Restaurant in 2013.

Hudson’s Bay Downtown Winnipeg department storeSource: Hudson’s Bay Company Archives/ City of Winnipeg historical buildings committee report

CLOSING DOWN

In October 2020, CTV News Winnipeg reported the store would be closing in February 2021, due to shifting consumer behaviors and changes to how and where people shop.

“I think we’ve seen this coming for a long time – it started when they started closing down one floor after another so that there was fewer and fewer places to shop,” said Robert Warren, a marketing and retail expert, and instructor of marketing at the University of North Dakota, at the time the closure was announced.

“I think what really pushed them over the top was this – the recent pandemic and all the issues associated with it have just really pushed all the retail problems much further ahead than they were before.”

Hudson’s Bay Downtown Winnipeg department storeSource: Hudson’s Bay Company Archives/ City of Winnipeg historical buildings committee report

A recent appraisal of the building from a real estate evaluator found it to be worth $0. In fact, it would actually cost millions to sell.

Hudson’s Bay Downtown Winnipeg department storeSource: Manitoba Archives/ City of Winnipeg historical buildings committee report

“What it boils down to is the cost to renovate that building far outstrips any value it has,” Warren said. “You would essentially be better off to just level the place and start all over again.”

DEMOLITION NOT AN OPTION

However, demolition is not an option for the building as it received a historical designation from city council in 2019, which means anyone who wants to move into it has to follow certain guidelines to preserve the aesthetic, historic and cultural significance of the building.

Hudson’s Bay Downtown WinnipegSource: Charles Lefebvre/ CTV News Winnipeg

“Having this heritage component is going to make it tougher to find somebody who wants that space and can figure out how to use it effectively, or can at least keep the exterior façade and build up behind it,” Warren said.

The Archives of Manitoba offers archival footage from the opening day of the store, which can be found online.

– With files from CTV’s Danton Unger and Jon Hendricks.

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