West Kelowna  

New mall welcomes first customers

The doors are officially open and the ribbon is officially cut for the first retail tenant of the new Okanagan Lake Shopping centre.

Shoppers Drug Mart  opened its doors at the new centre, on Thursday May 17, with a series of presentations and a prayer by Elder Wilfred-Grouse-Barnes.

Chief Robert Louie says the Westbank First Nation has been patiently waiting for the centre to open.

"We have various opening dates (for tenants in the shopping centre) from June 1 to the middle June, but the shopping centre won't be complete until we finish the underpass at Nancey Way, and that will likely be this fall with the final tenants coming in the spring of 2013."

Louie believes the centre will service at least 175,000 people, targeting residents who live within a 35 minute drive of the area.

"We believe there will be customers coming from Kelowna, the town of Westbank, Westside Road, Peachland, Lakeview Heights and potentially as far away as Summerland. There are a lot of cars here, there are 50 to 70,000 cars here a day and with travellers that come to the Okanagan this will be a tremendous service for those customers."

Holly Sumner used to be the owner of the Shoppers Drug Mart on Bernard but when the opportunity arose to open a store at the new centre she jumped on it.

Sumner believes the location of the new Shoppers Drug Mart will be the attraction for most people, as it will service areas such as Casa Loma, Rose Valley and even take some customers away from the downtown location.

"I think the idea was when they were creating this location, to capitalize on the people crossing the bridge.  We are such a different focus at this store compared to the store downtown.  They don't have same cosmetic lines and we have way more food than any of the other stores."

Sammy J's  also had a soft opening on Thursday. This is the first restaurant outside of the Lower Mainland for the Vancouver based food chain that serves "down to earth, homemade food".

On June 1, Landmark Cinemas will open their doors with Dairy Queen and Subway following suit.  A second phase of the shopping centre will begin construction in 2013, although Louie is tight lipped about the possible businesses who may move in for the opening date of 2014.

Phase one is 126,000 square feet, while phase two will be smaller at approximately 115,000 square feet. 

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