News / Halifax

Rumours of Urban Outfitters opening in Halifax could mean new life for Barrington Street

If the rumours are true, one of Halifax’s most talked about downtown streets could be home to a new high-profile retailer, which is welcome news to some businesses along the strip.

Social media reports indicate that American-owned retailer Urban Outfitters, which sells a mix funky clothing and home decor, would be opening its doors in May in the former location of Sam the Record Man.

Neither the building’s owner Starfish Properties or Urban Outfitters returned Metro Halifax’s interview requests by Thursday afternoon, but the retailer’s website features several job postings for a location within the city.

Paul MacKinnon is the executive director of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and said he doesn’t see any downside to the potential of big chain stores opening along the street, which he said has been sitting in the shadow of its former retail glory for years.

“The real concern is that we’ve got lots of missing teeth on the street,” he said of the high vacancy rates Thursday.

The rumoured opening of a big name retailer not only means filled storefronts, MacKinnon said, but believes it offers added draw to entice more locals to come downtown more often – a belief shared by other Barrington business owners.

“Barrington Street needs as much retail as it can get just to draw people down here and make them feel like coming down here as a shopping destination, not just a walk through,” said Rachael Grant, co-owner of clothing and jewelry boutique J & R Grimsmo.

“More traffic is more traffic for everyone.”

Elizabeth Macmichael of Freak Lunchbox agreed, saying the rumour has been circling for nearly a year, but is nevertheless exciting.

“Having a larger brand come into the downtown is great,” she said, explaining that many tourists and students bypass the street completely and mainly frequent Spring Garden Road.

MacKinnon acknowledged concerns that a big chain moving onto the street could jack-up rents and pose threats to other independent locally-owned businesses, but doesn’t believe Barrington is at a stage to worry yet.

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