Bells Corners Giant Tiger a survivor

It’s far from upscale, but the GT Boutique remains a retail success story.

Giant Tiger is celebrating its re-opening in Bells Corners Saturday, with a fully renovated store.

Company-wide, “they’re doing extremely well,” said retail analyst Barry Nabatian.

By importing cheap goods from China and carrying “reasonably well-made” products from Canada and the U.S., the chain has established itself as an “extremely well-managed” family-owned business, said Nabatian.

The 2008 financial crisis pushed North American and European consumers to shop on a dime, he continued.

“Discount stores have become very popular,” Nabatian said, pointing out a multitude of dollar stores have since opened.

But larger retailers have closed over the years.

Outlasting discount franchises such as Woolworths, KMart, and BiWay, “they’ve survived and really prospered,” said University of Ottawa marketing professor Michael Mulvey.

“They’re very entrenched in their local community.”

While a new 16,000 sq. ft. store is also opening Saturday in Amherst, Nova Scotia, the Bells Corners location has been expanded and redesigned.

Store manager Jason Fielding has spent 10 years with the company and is pumped for the event.

“The first 100 customers gets a $5 gift card,” said Fielding.

Celebrations run from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. at 1861 Robertson Rd.

A charity BBQ offers a hot dog and pop for $1 each with all proceeds benefiting the Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre’s violence against women program.

A magician and games will be offered for children, along with a BBQ raffle.

Young families and seniors flock to the store, but “we cater to everyone,” Fielding said.

A fair share of regulars are bargain hunters, however,”we really thrive on customer service,” said Fielding, to ensure customers “tell their friends.”

Mulvey agreed word-of-mouth has been indispensable for the chain.

“They’re very selective” when it comes to advertising, said Mulvey, noting Giant Tiger is “pretty aggressive” with traditional flyer inserts.

Opening in the Byward Market in 1961, franchising began seven years later.

The privately held business employs more than 7,000 people, raking in at least $1 billion annually.

“They don’t show all their cards,” said Mulvey.

Unlike big-box suburban strips, plenty of its 200 stores are within walking distance.

“They’re really part of the fabric and landscape of the neighbourhoods,” said Mulvey, adding it’s “Canada’s original five and dime” store.

“They’ve got such a history and heritage.”

Twitter: @kellyroche

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