A land transaction on the outskirts of Brandon has stirred up whispers that a major retailer is looking at the Wheat City as a possible location.
On Sunday, the sellers of the land confirmed that a parcel of land has been sold south of Brandon near Highway 10.
"Yes, we are the sellers of the land," she said. "But until the purchasers announce it, I don’t think that it is up to us to say anything."
The land, viewed by many as prime real estate for a commercial enterprise, was sold to a Winnipeg developer, fuelling speculation that a major retail chain has expressed interest in establishing a store in Brandon.
While there have been no official announcements regarding a possible new commercial expansion, Sandy Trudel, the city’s economic development officer, did confirm that the city has spoken to representatives of Costco Wholesale Corporation, more commonly known as Costco.
"Is it safe to say that (Costco) is actively watching the market? Yes, I believe that is true," Trudel said. "We’ve had communications with them, but are they at the next step? If they are, we’re not aware of it."
Costco, one of the largest retailers in the world that requires customers to have a membership to receive wholesale deals, has more than 80 stores in Canada.
Earlier this month, a Costco representative wouldn’t confirm or deny the store’s interest in locating a store in Brandon, only stating that the store refuses to comment on possible expansion sites until all the details are finalized.
Since becoming the economic development officer for the city in the 1990s, Trudel said the rumour that a Costco is coming to the city has cropped up several times, and each time it has failed to materialize. And although that may be the case again, she said it is always positive when the conversation is focused on growth in the city and not the opposite.
"It’s never a bad message to have that discussion out in the marketplace because it shows that we are a growing community and that there is economic activity sufficient enough to generate these types of discussions," Trudel said.
She also stressed that the city’s main priority is growing the industries that have deep roots in the area.
"Our belief is that economic growth comes from your primary industries," Trudel said. "With the growth in those base industries, everything else follows whether it be retail, commercial, hospitality or professional services."
Rumor or not, the land sale has only fuelled Brandon residents’ appetite for a Costco in the city.
"I’d love to see a Costco in Brandon," Ken Leslie said on Sunday while out shopping. "I’ve shopped at their stores in Calgary, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. It’s a great store and they have great giveaways and they’re really cheap in price. Their price point is really, really good."
Although he doesn’t have a membership card for the retail giant, Leslie said he uses family and friends’ cards to shop at the store.
The rumours of a Costco in Brandon come on the heels of IKEA, the Swedish furniture giant, getting ready to open its doors in Winnipeg on Nov. 28. The Winnipeg IKEA location, much like a Costco in Brandon, had been rumoured to be coming to the provincial capital for several years before the official announcement last year.
The whispers are also believed to be getting louder due to the addition of a Target store, which is set to open in the spring of 2013 in Shoppers Mall in the south end of Brandon.
"I don’t know a lot about Costco, but I do know that people go into Winnipeg to shop there because it’s reasonable," said Ellen Crooks while out shopping with her husband Frank.
And Frank might have best summed up Brandon shoppers’ constant state of flux with the wholesale giant.
"I sit at the door and wait. And sometimes it’s a long wait," Frank joked about his shopping excursions.