An iconic luxury jewellery retailer is closing its downtown Victoria location this month, ending a decades-long run.
Located along Government Street, with a facade facing Fort Street, staff at regal Maison Birks will lock the doors for good next Saturday, March 26th.
Downtown Victoria Business Association executive director Jeff Bray says he’s sad to see the store go. Still, he’s staying optimistic.
“They’ve been here 74 years,” Bray told Victoria Buzz.
“But it’s a prime location, so I have no doubt that the space will get filled up by a new business.”
Maison Birks, well-known for its jewellery, timepieces, silverware and gifts, comes with an extensive history.
It currently has 25 locations across Canada and first opened in Victoria in March of 1948—at a different location on Yates Street.
A public relations company representing Birks Group says clients will continue to be serviced through the Maison Birks downtown Vancouver store and online at MaisonBirks.com.
“We’ve lost some businesses through the pandemic, but we’ve had two years with very few office workers and very, very few tourists,” noted Bray.
“I think a lot of businesses have pivoted and done really well; some businesses are hanging on.”
At the end of December 2021, Bray says the retail vacancy rate downtown was 7.9%. “I think it was around 2013 when we were around 13.5%,” he recalled.
Bray finds these figures are “reasonably low” when compared to lots of other downtowns across North America. “I think we’ve fared very well,” he said.
And with warmer months on the horizon and a busy cruise ship season anticipated, Bray says the path to recovery is clear.
In fact, the Victoria Harbour Authority predicts this year’s 358 ship calls will usher in nearly 800,000 passengers.
“The calls this year are spread out through the whole week, so there will be a manageable number of people downtown. They’re going to be able to enjoy the restaurants, craft brews and retail,” explained Bray.
“It’s really a tremendous economic shot in the arm.”