Canadian Retailer - March/April 2009 - (Page 32)

RE TAI L N E IG H BOU RHOOD S Halifax’s north end neighbourhoods have seen their share of tough times. But those times are a-changing — and retailers are leading the way story and photos by rachel boomer E D I T O R ’S N O T E : This is the second in a year-long series of articles in which Canadian Retailer takes a closer look at some of Canada’s most dynamic neighbourhoods, and the ways in which our nation’s retailers have played a role in shaping their unique identities. I n 1965, Nick Dimitropoulos opened Vogue Menswear and Tailoring on Gottingen Street, then considered one of the best retail addresses in Halifax.There were already four or five menswear stores and a number of shoe stores; New York Dress had a prime corner location and sold formalwear to the well-heeled.Vogue, which sells both ready-to-wear and madeto-measure men’s clothing, fit right in. Then, as it happened in so many other places, progress left its mark.The Cogswell Street interchange, built at the height of car culture, was designed to ease traffic flow into the downtown core; instead, it cut off the Gottingen business district from the downtown core and cemented the north end’s isolation from the rest of the city.And throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, developers in Nova Scotia’s capital began focusing their attention on shopping malls and, later, suburban retail parks off the peninsula. Scotia Square, a downtown shopping mall connected to hotels and office buildings by a series of pedways and tunnels, was built just blocks away with its back literally turned towards Gottingen Street — an apt metaphor for the city’s apparent attitude towards the area at the time. One by one, Gottingen’s fine stores began to close. The exodus started at the beginning of the 1970s, Dimitropoulos says, and it slowly drained the life out of his part of the city. “It happened gradually. Every day, somebody was moving,” Dimitropoulos remembers. “They opened up different shopping centres, and the people went.” Over time, the shuttered windows, a nearby public housing development, and a reputation for higher crime rates gave “the north end,” as it was called, the worst kind of reputation. People would lock their car doors as they turned onto Gottingen and refused to even drive there at night; a few streets up, Agricola Street became a well-known prostitute stroll. A needle exchange and other social service agencies opened in the area, further slowing pedestrian traffic to a trickle. Haligonians can get touchy about the boundaries of the city’s north end, so a definition is probably in order. Central Halifax, according to many longtime residents, is the neighbourhood where Dimitropoulos works: if you know Halifax, that’s the area that runs from Rainnie Drive, which runs along the northern edge of the city’s Citadel National Historic Park, to North Street, about six blocks north.The true north end, they’ll say, begins past North and runs all the way up to the Bedford Basin. Damcontinued on page 34 3 2 | C A N A D I A N R E TA I L E R | M A R C H /A P R I L 2 0 0 9 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - March/April 2009

Canadian Retailer - March/April 2009
Publishers Desk
Shop Talk
Store Design - And Now For Something a Little Different
RCC Member Issues - A Delicate Balance
Cover Story: The Green Team
Business & Finance - Staying Afloat
Special Human Resources Supplement
Retail Neighbourhood Spotlight
Focus on Accessibility & Diversity
Advertisers’ Index
You Asked Us

Canadian Retailer - March/April 2009