Patrons relax in the original food area at Mayfair mall in the 1980s.

Patrons relax in the original food area at Mayfair mall in the 1980s.

BUSINESS BEAT: Victoria’s Mayfair set to sparkle on its 50th birthday

Shopping centre has undergone several major renovations since opening in 1963

More than 30 years after the fact, Mayfair Shopping Centre building services technician Bruce Knight remembers well the early days of his career at the mall. He was originally hired for summer relief in 1983.

The following year he was among many new full-time hires as the mall underwent a major expansion, the first of a series of improvements that happened over the following six years.

As he helps Mayfair prepare to celebrate its 50th anniversary with visitors and mall staff today (Oct. 18), Knight recalls the look of the place when he started.

“It was just really small. All we had was from basically where Anne Louise (Jewellers) and Purdy’s (Chocolates) are now, down to where admin is,” he says, listing stores that are well inside the current entrances.

It was even smaller in 1963, when it opened as one of the region’s first shopping centres, one in which most stores and services had outdoor entrances.

The first major changes came in 1974. “There was the big trend in the ’70s when everything got enclosed,” says Mayfair marketing manager Julie McCracken.

Woodward’s department store, with its food floor, book department and candy counter a destination for many area families, was the anchor tenant in those days. As shopping and mall trends evolved, further changes occurred.

A major expansion happened in 1984 when Consumers Distributing opened up, followed in 1985 by an expanded food court and in 1990 by a larger expansion that added a number of new stores and saw the food floor taken out.

Many teenagers learned to drive in the vacant Mayfair parking lot on Sundays or evenings over the years. The advent of Sunday openings in 1986 cut down the time available for such educational sessions at Mayfair.

In recent years Mayfair has cultivated its standing as a fashion hotbed, with such retailers as Banana Republic, Sephora, Aerie, American Eagle, The Gap and Eddie Bauer moving in.

The centre is home to the lone Vancouver Island outlet for some retailers, such as Bath and Body Works, which opened recently to lineups and excitement.

Mayfair general manager Ken Hoang says the marketplace has exploded in the past 10 to 15 years in Greater Victoria.

“As a consumer I see that as a fantastic thing; there’s a lot of options,” he says. “But that obviously leads to increased competing pressure. That helps push us and keeps us moving forward and drives the motivation to innovate.”

Consumers are looking at shopping centres to be something that is all-encompassing, Hoang says, which means it’s all about the experience. A way to enhance that, he adds, is by staging special events such as today’s anniversary celebration, which offers both a look back in time and a thank you to the community who have kept the mall thriving for 50 years.

The 50th anniversary event runs from 5 to 8 p.m., with a fashion show at 7 p.m. and numerous draws and special offers. Visit mayfairshoppingcentre.com for more information.

Young Drivers opens two new locations

Young Drivers of Canada has moved out of the downtown and opened classroom facilities in Langford and Saanich. The Langford location is in the boardroom at Westhills Arena, 1089 Langford Pky., while the Saanich site is at 103-1551 Cedar Hill X Rd. Both locations offer ICBC approved Graduated Licensing Program courses, which include 20 hours of classroom study and 12 hours of in-car instruction and practice. For more information on upcoming courses, promotions and driving lessons, visit yd.com/victoria or yd.com/victorialangford.

Cosmetics retailer expands product line

Megan Johns, operator of The Green Kiss Beauty Bar inside The Good Planet Company at 764 Fort St., has purchased Sidney-based Paperdoll Minerals, one of its best-selling lines of natural cosmetics, from Carmel Graham. Johns expects the move to nearly double her sales quickly, as Paperdoll products are sold at seven other locations in B.C. Visit thegreenkiss.com or call 250-412-2305 for more details.

Making waves on the business scene

Colin Ewart has been elected board chair for the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence Society, while Bob Cameron was accepted as a new board member. Ewart succeeds Jim Reed as chair … Kelly Orr, Rod Windjack and Ray Spencer are new board members for the Canadian Heritage Arts Society, which operates the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Oak Bay … Janet Crocker is the new policy and communications manager for the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. She is former executive director of a similar body in Prince Rupert.

Send your business news to ddescoteau@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read