Staples Canada has confirmed West Kelowna’s branch will be one of approximately 225 North American locations to close by the end of next year.
Staples will be the fourth West Kelowna big box store to shut down in the last two years.
Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie said he was a bit shocked to find out Staples was pulling out of its Westside location.
“I am concerned,” said Louie.
“Staples has been, I believe, a good corporate citizen in the area. They’ve provided good service; I feel sorry for their employees.”
Louie said he has taken time to examine what is happening on WFN land with regard to the closures of several big box stores, including Zellers, Future Shop, and now Staples.
“Despite the closure of Staples, I feel…the economy is still picking up.”
He said Wholesale Sports Outdoor Outfitters, Fenders Automotive, Stickle & Strawn Optometry, Pizza Hut and Freeride Boardshop are examples of businesses that have recently opened on WFN lands.
“These big box outlets usually have long-term leases in place and they have a requirement to pay for that space until their lease is finished, so I’m sure they’re going to be acting very quickly to try and support another business coming in to fill their spot.”
John Perrott, business development officer with the District of West Kelowna, said the closure of Staples didn’t come as a huge surprise, especially considering there is another store in the region.
“I would imagine their business model, like many of the retailers’, is evolving (with) people ordering online and having items delivered,” said Perrott.
He added studies have shown there are more big box stores in West Kelowna than usual, considering the population.
“We did have a report that was done in 2007 or 2008 that said the amount of retail space we had was higher per capita than general best practices,” said Perrott.
“But, that being said, on the Westside here we’re still a regional draw.”
Perrott said it’s unfortunate to see any jobs lost from the closures, but added it’s encouraging that some of the businesses that have closed have tried to transfer employees to other stores in the region.
The business development officer is also optimistic those who lost jobs may be able to find work at other local businesses that are prospering.
“Businesses seem to be generally in a bit of a growth mode right now,” said Perrott.
“So hopefully (anyone who) loses their job will have opportunities here on the Westside.”
Norm LeCavalier, co-chair of the Greater Westside Board of Trade, said he sees the closure of Staples as an opportunity for other businesses.
“The way we’re looking at it is a positive for opportunities for other businesses to come here, as well as existing businesses to expand,” said LeCavalier.
In an e-mail statement, Staples Canada spokesperson Madalina Secareanu wrote, “We continually evaluate our store performance to ensure we’re operating the business in the best way.
“As customers shift online, we are taking aggressive action to right-size our retail footprint.”
Although Secareanu wouldn’t confirm when the West Kelowna store would close its doors or how many employees would be affected, she said the company is “working to provide transfer options to employees where possible.”