Portage la Prairie, MB –
The ghosts of shoppers past will give way to a mall full of nostalgia seekers.
The Portage Mall is transforming into a tribute to the retail shops that have come and gone in Portage la Prairie and Canada.
Shoppers will soon be able to pay a small entrance fee to browse the isles of Portage favourites like Woolco, Styleright, Hans Christian Toys, Low-Cost Drugs, The Copper Kettle, Coles Books and hang out in Long John Silver’s Arcade or sit in Pizza Place, Smitty’s or the Fuzzy Orange.
The Museum of Retail History will include Canadian icons who failed, like Eaton’s, Beaver Lumber, Consumer’s Distributing, Randy River, Sam The Record Man, Radio Shack, Zellers and dozens more.
“If you grew up in the 80’s or even 90’s you will remember most of these places,” Museum Curator Jonathon Brown explained. “It’ll be like relieving your youth for an afternoon. Come to the Mall and pay $20 to hang out at the arcade and troll the mall for girls or guys.”
The inspiration for the new museum concept came when Brown overheard people in the mall say it was as if they were walking with ghosts. The light came on, and he put plans in place to turn the empty space into an innovative tourist attraction.
“We’ll have full portions of each store re-created so visitors can walk through and look at era items,” Brown offered. “We’ll really focus on the late 80’s so there will be things like designer jeans, pet rocks, books, records and cassettes and all the Museum cast members will have big hair and mullets.”
It will be the first time in almost two decades, the mall will be filled with stores and Brown promises they have plans to keep it fresh.
“On Friday and Saturday nights we’ll have bands from the 80’s and 90’s perform at centre court. Local acts will include The Double Eagle Band and Johnny Dietrich. National and international retro acts will also be added to the line-up that already includes Helix, Headpins, Orphan, and Platinum Blonde.
The Museum also plans to have rotating exhibits to highlight other local and national failed retailers.
“We hope to have something from The Met and Narvey’s in the first month,” Brown shared. “We will announce more stores as we move along. Each month we should get a new exhibit. Moving forward it looks like we’ll have an endless stream of extinct retailers. This could become a world-wide centre for retail history.”
The Museum of Retail History feels the new business model of charging admission combined with concession and food sales will bring the vintage retail space into a new era of prosperity and add a new dynamic attraction to the Central Plains area.