Westbank First Nation Chief Robert Louie was as surprised as anyone when news broke about the closure of Future Shop in West Kelowna.
WFN, along with Anthem Properties Group Ltd., own Snyatan Shopping Centre, which includes Winners, Dollar Tree, Bulk Barn, Second Cup, Peace Hills Trust and a now shutdown Future Shop.
“We were shocked, quite frankly,” said Louie.
“All the information we had available to us strongly suggested they were doing quite well there. We believe it’s strictly a head office decision.”
Future Shop opened just 16 months ago with hundreds lined up outside its doors to get their first glimpse of the store.
Louie is optimistic it won’t take too long to fill the now vacant 20,000-square-foot building, but said the closure does have an effect on the band.
“There is an impact, there’s no question about it. Future Shop was a very strong tenant. Certainly I think they added value to the community. I think the public will certainly miss Future Shop.
“They still have a lease with us—of course that has to be honoured…we’ll just have to look to how it’s going to be filled.”
Anthem Properties Group Ltd. didn’t comment on the closure of Future Shop, noting it’s against their company policy; however, they admitted they too were “surprised” by the news.
Several big box stores currently do business on WFN land, but Louie doesn’t believe this closure indicates a trend that might affect other large shopping outlets.
Louie said WFN staff have talked to some of the other Snyatan Shopping Centre business owners and they don’t think the shutdown will have a major impact on their business.
“Our partners…are actively seeking other major tenants; I don’t think that building is going to be empty too long.”
Louie said he sympathized with the nearly 50 employees who lost their jobs Thursday.
West Kelowna Future Shop was one of 15 Best Buy and Future Shop locations across Canada to shut its doors for good Thursday as part of a “transformational strategy.”