Buying power
North West Co. upgrading, Co-op adding to assets

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Feb 08/99) - When it comes to what's in NWT stores, the biggest moves of late have come from the North's two leading retailers -- the North West Company and Arctic Co-operatives Ltd.

The North West Company recently announced it will double the size of its Iqaluit and Arviat stores. The company will spend $4.5 million and $3.5 million at its Iqaluit and Arviat operations respectively.

"Iqaluit is definitely an expanding market," Len Flett, North West Company vice-president of store development and public relations, said.

Some 35 of the North West Company's 180 stores are in the Arctic. In total, the company has sales of about $600 million yearly.

The expanded stores in Iqaluit and Arviat represent 114 new, permanent jobs, North West Company president and CEO Edward Kennedy said.

Additional space will be provided for groceries, a bigger selection of health products as well as larger value-pack sized items. There will also be more space for the Northern Store's financial services.

As part of the expansion, the North West Company Iqaluit location will include a Quickstop restaurant with seating for 50 people and feature KFC, Subshop and Baker Street pastries and coffee.

The Iqaluit project will start this spring and is to be completed before the end of December.

As well as more space for fresh produce and groceries, in Arviat, new services will include a fresh meat shop, bakery and Quickstop restaurant with seating for 42 people. The Quickstop will feature the same lines of foods as are planned in Iqaluit.

Completion date for the Arviat expansion is expected to be no later than fall 2000.

The two projects increase North West Company's investment in Nunavut to nearly $30 million over the last five years.

"Iqaluit and Arviat will soon join a group of new and expanded stores in Baker Lake, Broughton Island, Cambridge Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Gjoa Haven, Pangnirtung and Rankin Inlet.

The North West Company is Nunavut's largest private employer with a local workforce of 625 people.

In Yellowknife, the North West Company recently sold its Trading Post store.

On the Arctic Co-operatives front, the Fort Good Hope Co-op, which offers a wide range of food and household items, opened in November after four months of construction.

Part of the $750,000 building costs were covered by land claim money. This is the first co-op which has been built with land claim money, Arctic Co-operatives Ltd. president Bill Lyall said at the co-op opening.

Membership quickly jumped to 238 people, or about one-third of the community of about 650. By mid-January, the Fort Good Hope Co-op had 461 members, manager Tom Forbes said.

Yamoga Lands Corporation, the community's council, the territorial government's Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development department, CIBC and Human Resources Development Canada's transitional jobs fund, as well as the NWT Co-op system and the Fort Good Hope Co-op organizing committee, all played a role creating the co-op.

Meanwhile, in Yellowknife, there were more than a few moves on the retail front.

Last year, Arctic Art Gallery owner Marg Baile sold her business to Arctic Co-operatives. The business now operates under the Northern Images flag.

Soon after the sale, the Birchwood Gallery opened in the old Northern Images location in downtown Yellowknife.

After Christmas, the NWT's capital saw some business closures.

Yk shops that shut included Damoli's Card and Gift, Mil-Spec army surplus, Eko Holistic Beauty and Munchkins children's toy and clothing store. Mack Travel combined its two locations into one. Family Vision Centre and the Lens Shop was also combined into one larger store. White Bear Chrysler was forced into receivership by creditors.