Updating Orillia to 2017

May 01, 2017

I've been giving some thought on how to update the information provided on the main part of this site, since parts of it have changed and become outdated. In the end, I've decided to leave the original information on the main site, and simply write about updated parts of the city on a new blog section. The reason for this is simple ... the information that's out of date now, will become a part of a historical record, and there are few sites on the web that provide this information.

To keep up-to-date on Orillia's ongoing changes, you'll need to read the blog section. For more than a year I haven't kept things updated - changes to shops/stores, city amenities and other changes have been difficult to keep up with (for me) because of family situations. More recently, we've spent winters in Florida, making it harder to keep abreast of new and current details for the city.

On our return this year (the end of April 2017) one of the things we learned were changes to the Orillia Square Mall. Before we left (end of December 2016) we did know that there were initial plans for Lowe's to move into the huge empty space that used to be the Target store. But in order for that to happen, Lowe's needed more space than the Target store took up and plans were put into action to move some of the shops closes to that part of the mall. Places like Bentleys and Shaw's Jewellers would need to move further down the mall if they wanted to stay in the mall.

One of the things that saddened us (personally) was the closing of Shaw's jewellers. Shaw's has been serving Orillia for 100 years, and for all of our married life (41 years) we've been steady customers of Shaw's, and became pretty friendly with Bill Shaw. He told us at that time that he was going to close the store and retire. I understand the reasons, but we'll miss that shop and miss just dropping in to see Bill (that would often lead to some new purchase, so I'm not sure my husband will miss that!). One of the things I did feel was good is that he closed the store rather than selling the business. Shaw's closed with it's name and reputation intact.

The sad part is that it doesn't look as though Lowe's will be moving into the mall. Canadian Tire objected to having Lowes in their neck of the woods and so now, the reason for Shaw's closure has disappeared (though in all honesty, Bill Shaw has earned his retirement and deserves to spend time with family and friends). While I don't have any details, I did hear (through the ever present grapevine) that the part of the mall that housed Target may be divided up into 4 new stores. What stores might go into that slot is something I haven't heard.

This confuses me because ... well, there were (the last time I was at the mall) many empty shops they couldn't rent. How do they expect to fill 4 new spaces? Leaving that end of the mall without a large anchor store might not be the best thing they could have done, but only time will tell. Mall rents aren't cheap, and traffic to the mall is generated mostly by No Frills groceries (the anchor at the opposite end) and Canadian Tire (which isn't even attached to the mall).

Why Canadian Tire was able to say no to having the Lowe's move in is confusing. Oh, I understand the "right of refusal" clauses fairly well, but Lowe's is a "home building center", while Canadian Tire's anchor products are automotive related. Between the 2 stores there is an overlap in some products, like garden, small home appliances, paint supplies, etc., but Lowes carries a ton of things that Canadian Tire doesn't. The 2 stores should have been able to live quite happily in the same general area. I don't know about anyone else, but no matter where it's located I wouldn't purchase paint and renovation supplies at Canadian Tire. We never have. Personally, I'd rather shop at Lowe's for any home repair products than at Canadian Tire. I don't think them saying no to Lowe's is going to change anyone's mind about where they buy certain products.

For now, the mall is nearly dead and until they get something else to draw the shopping public back to the mall, the Westridge area & Walmart plaza is likely to see more shoppers than the Orillia Square Mall will.