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Workwear business booming

Mark's Work Wearhouse is under renovation

Thorunn Howatt
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 28/02) - People are working hard in Yellowknife. And they need the right clothes for the job.

That need has led to the expansion of the city's Mark's Work Wearhouse.

"I buy my work clothes here and now I am working here," laughed Dowland Contracting Ltd. construction worker Donald McDonald, who's involved with the renovations that will make the store nearly twice the size.

The 7,500 square foot store is located close to Wal-Mart and Super 8 Motel

in a building with a vacant space. The "new" store will take up the whole building as well as a whole new addition, moving up in size to 12,500 square feet.

It's one more sign of Yellowknife's booming economy.

"Business is good and that's why we're expanding," said Yellowknife Mark's Work Wearhouse manager Joanne Watson.

The larger area is going to make way for a new concept -- shops within the store, where there will be more snowmobile wear, ladies clothing and industrial apparel.

Construction should be finished by November. "But we want people to know we are open now -- during renovations," said Watson.

Mark's Work Wearhouse originally made its mark with the blue-collar worker but half of its customers are women.

Yellowknife was one of the first small-market locations for the chain.

"Now we have an opportunity to take it to the next level," said Mark's chief operating officer, Paul Wilson, who explained that the store has been operating in the city for nearly nine years and revenue has improved every year.

"It's going to be as big as any store we have in Canada."

The project will cost millions. Mark's will have to stock the store with more inventory and has committed to a long-term lease. Mining activity, energy exploration and building construction mean more people need workwear -- that's in addition to increased safety legislation requiring people to be equipped with steel-toed boots and the like.