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London Drugs quashes rumour it will close store at Granville and Georgia streets

Store has suffered from rampant shoplifting
London Drugs has been at the corner of West Georgia and Granville streets for decades

Rumours were swirling today that London Drugs was considering closing its 32,000-square-foot store at the corner of Granville and West Georgia streets. That site is across the street from the vacant 230,000-square-foot shell of Pacific Centre which had housed Nordstrom until that department store left in June

London Drugs president Clint Mahlman phoned BIV late this afternoon to state that the rumour was categorically not true, although he said his company does on an ongoing basis assess the viability of all of its stores. 

"We're absolutely not considering closing that store," Mahlman said. 

"We would go to the end of the Earth, and take whatever steps are necessary to avoid closing stores. I can confirm, though, that it's got to the point that we're having to evaluate that, and that we're a couple years away from having to make any decisions. I can't confirm which store it would be because obviously, we have obligations to our leases, our landlords, and more importantly, to our employees. We want to continue to serve our customers but there's no truth to that rumour that we're closing at Georgia and Granville."

Mahlman confirmed that his retail chain has suffered at the hands of shoplifters, and he estimated that on average, prices at his store are up about three per cent in order to compensate for shoplifting and vandalism. 

The source of the rumour was Vancouver Coun. Peter Meiszner, who tweeted about the potential development this afternoonBIV spoke with Meiszner after his tweet and he said that he heard about the store's potential closure this morning from a reliable source. 

"I am extremely concerned to learn that London Drugs is considering closing its downtown store at Granville and Georgia due to rampant shoplifting - a store I rely on regularly," Meiszner wrote in his tweet.

Area businesses have had to deal with the loss of Nordstrom, which has meant fewer people in the area. 

BIV this afternoon asked Vancouver-–False Creek MLA Brenda Bailey, whose riding includes the Granville Entertainment District, if she was concerned that businesses were leaving the heart of Vancouver and that small business people, such as Marquis Wine Cellars owner John Clerides, are saying that street vandalism and shoplifting are getting worse

She did not directly answer that question.

Bailey alluded to a policy document from her government. 

"The Safer Communities Action Plan has really been our response to that," Bailey answered. "And there's a number of different components to it. This is a fairly complex issue."

She added that the federal government is responsible for criminal law.

"Downtowns have been impacted by the changes we saw during the pandemic, and since, where less people are working downtown," she said.

"It's created a different set of conditions, and we do know that more workers are coming downtown, that that trend is on the upward side and having more people downtown is a good thing. That's part of the equation. And certainly this isn't unique to Vancouver, or B.C. This is actually happening all over North America and worldwide."

Meiszner mentioned his solution in his tweet, which is for his government to work with law enforcement and other levels of government to enhance safety. 

"We cannot allow shoplifting to become normalized in our city - it hurts businesses, employees and communities," he wrote.

"The VPD took action on this issue earlier this summer, making more than 200 arrests during a three week crackdown on chronic and violent shoplifting. But we know businesses are still struggling with this issue. Unfortunately once a case enters the court system, the VPD have limited control on if a suspect is charged or convicted. We will continue to support our partners in the VPD and the important work they do to keep our community safe. However, we also need our partners at senior levels of government to step up when it comes to bail reform, especially with chronic offenders. Bill C-48 (bail reform) and the province's Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative are both steps in the right direction but we need urgent action ASAP."

Meiszner later tweeted a follow-up post to say that he had spoken with London Drugs and that he was relieved that the store was not slated to close.  

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