Calling all customers
Arctic Spirit hopes to regain business after relocation

Glen Vienneau
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 09/00) - In team sports, it might be called a survival strategy.

Arctic Spirit sportswear, to get out from under some heavy overhead costs, left its well-known location in Centre Square Mall. Now the challenge is to bring back customer traffic.

"Our problem is getting customers coming over here," said Fred Hunt. "We miss our customers, we want them back."

Hunt is the president and chief executive officer of Nunasi Corporation which owns Arctic Spirit.

The store is one of Nunasi's flagship companies. They moved out of the Centre Square Mall in July and relocated to the new corporate administrative offices in the 48th Street Plaza. Nunasi bought the building in February from Yellowknife businessman Tony Chang.

"If we had maintained the level of overhead that we had (in Centre Square), we probably would not be surviving," he said.

But the loss of "automatic traffic flow" of customers from a mall environment was the biggest problem in slowing down business since the move.

"We have to do some more innovative and interesting promotional things to attract our customers," said Hunt.

Another factor is competition from national stores along Old Airport Road, which offers more parking space and a wider variety of merchandise, he said.

"I'm not knocking that down," he said, adding that there is simply a need to attract customers in the downtown core.

"Surviving in the retail industry in downtown Yellowknife right now is tough thing to do, that's evident by the number of closures you see around here over the course of the year,"

He is encouraged by the City of Yellowknife hiring a consultant to study the problem of downtown "regeneration."

In the meantime, in order to generate more traffic, the store management will use their imagination to attract customers. That will include offering free customer parking and holding a grand-opening ceremony.

"I'm very positive about the outcome, it won't be handed to us on a platter, we are going to have to make sure who we are, where we are and we're going to get at that," he added.