The New Horizon Mall has commonly been plagued by its reputation as a “ghost mall.” Despite the negative press, businesses are continuing to pop up and all that’s needed now is for customers to catch on.
The 500-store shopping space located in the outskirts of Calgary has its share of patient business owners, who anticipate a busy season ahead.
“I think this mall is very unique and totally different to other malls,” says Koreana Beauty & Health owner Sally Seong who opened her store nearly a year ago. “That's why in the future I think [this will be] a very busy and famous shopping mall.”
Despite the mostly empty halls, Seong says the mall has introduced her to a mixed set of regular and first-time customers.
“I got a second business in downtown. Just local regulars … I met a lot of people here. I think here is more activity and more fun.”
The New Horizon Mall introduces a condo-ownership business model. Produced Rosemary De Souza & Andrea Wong
The mall’s condo-ownership business model also benefits store operators like Seong, who own both her space and her business. Unlike traditional malls, businesses at New Horizon pay a fixed price to gain ownership of their space, which provides more stability.
“I think they’ll make it. It’s just that it’s going to take a lot longer than they ever thought it would.” -- Lynne Ricker, U of C marketing chair
Marketing chair at the University of Calgary, Lynne Ricker, says the mall’s Asian marketplace approach is a well-proven concept, but looking at the mall’s low occupancy rate of 20 per cent, the mall “isn’t dynamic and lacks vitality.”
The quiet halls are a stark contrast to the bustling success of Toronto’s Pacific Mall, which New Horizon is modelled after. According to Ricker, this is likely due to Calgary’s economic state as well as smaller population size.
Though the mall’s progress seems slow, Ricker believes they will eventually find their way to success."I think they’ll make it. It’s just that it’s going to take a lot longer than they ever thought it would.”
Realtor Umair Lasi has leased out at least 20 units so far and is confident that business will pick up as the mall opens more stores, such as Chinese department store chain The Best Shop.
“Once the anchor tenants open, we should have the foot traffic to go up,” he says. “So, I have a feeling once 200 shops have opened in this mall, we will see a really busy mall.”
At least 70 stores started operating in the mall with nearly 200 more being expected to open in the next year.
- By Rosemary J. De Souza & Andrea Wong