Marshalls Opens Vancouver Store

Marshalls Vancouver | BCBusiness
Inside “The Cube,” the boutique-like section of the new Marshalls location in Vancouver.

American retailer Marshalls continues its Canadian expansion with a Vancouver location on Ontario Street

Off-price fashion retailer Marshalls opens its first Vancouver location on April 4, at SW Marine Drive and Ontario Street. The arrival comes shortly before discount store Target begins its rollout of 19 B.C. locations. The new store is the first of two planned for B.C., with the second arriving on May 23 in Abbotsford.

Tamara Robbins Griffith, Marshalls Canada spokesperson and PR manager for TJX—which owns Marshalls, Winners, HomeSense and T. J. Maxx—talks about the company’s arrival in the west, what differentiates the Marshalls brand and why Target isn’t competition.

What figured into the decision of opening a Vancouver location of Marshalls?
The plan since we launched in 2011 was that Canada could support 90 to 100 stores over the next 10 years. The first couple of years were really building our presence in Ontario and 2013 marks the expansion to start to go more national and reach out of the province and into markets like BC and Quebec and Manitoba. Next summer we’ll be in Alberta as well.

The new Vancouver location at 8137 Ontario

We want to go more national and we’re always looking into great real estate opportunities. Vancouver is a big city and bustling market and there’s a lot of excitement happening in the retail industry. I think that Vancouverites are hungry for those great deals and we’ve seen the appetite for the off-price brands through how they shop at Winners and HomeSense. We knew that they would really respond well to the Marshalls brand.

What kind of brand recognition and reaction have B.C. shoppers shown toward Marshalls?
From the buzz on the street and the level of anticipation and response to the advertising—as well as the media outreach—it’s been that a lot of people are quite familiar with it from shopping in the states. They know the Marshalls brand and as soon as you begin that education process—for those people that don’t know the Marshalls brand already from a cross-border shopping perspective—when you let them know we’re also owned by TJX, who owns Winners, they get very excited because they understand what that means and that they’re going to get amazing deals.

You beat Target to the punch in B.C. Was that part of your rollout strategy?
We work very far ahead, so our plans are to expand across Canada and we’d love to see Marshalls from coast to coast in the next few years. Target is doing what Target is doing, and it makes for a very exciting time in the retail landscape, but at the same time, I think that our offering is quite different and our business model is completely different. Where Target is a discount retailer, and their product is manufactured to sell at a low price, we’re an off-price retailer, so we’re selling designer brands that you would find in a department store at a fraction of the cost. For the consumer, on the one hand they may think there are a lot of American brands coming into our communities, but at the same time, we see ourselves as quite different and I think the customer does as well.

Is that how Marshalls competes with and differentiates from Target—offering higher-end products?
It’s not about being higher-end or lower-end. We have a huge range of price points, from an entry-level to luxury designer brands. It’s not necessarily that we have higher-priced merchandise; it’s about the value. If you think about the fact that at Target a $10 T-shirt was manufactured to sell for $10, whereas at Marshalls, that $10 T-shirt was manufactured to sell for $25, but because of our business model and the way that our buyers can secure great deals, we’re able to sell that $25 T-shirt for $10. The customers are coming to us not for more expensive products, but for great value. We don’t really feel like it’s apples to apples, and we don’t really see them as our competition.

How is Marshalls positioning itself in comparison to its sister store Winners, which is already a big, well-known brand in B.C.?
It’s a very different in-store shopping experience. You’ll find overlapping brands, but Marshalls has, for instance, a box-shoe department where you’re shopping by style as opposed to by size. It’s a little bit more department store. The shoe department is blown out—we have over 8,000 pairs of shoes in every Marshalls store. We have a boutique as well within the store, called “The Cube,” which is geared toward millennials and that younger female customer. It’s merchandised in a way that she can shop a whole look all at once—you’ll see a pair of shoes beside a handbag, beside a dress. And that’s something you would not see in Winners. While there may be some brands that are crossing over between stores, it’s a different experience and we think that there’s enough of an appetite for the off-price business model that people are going to be excited, and a lot of our customers shop both stores.

Read more about the Marshalls Vancouver location.