Fabricland is calling it quits in the downtown to escape worsening crime and blatant drug use in its neighbourhood, and wants to relocate.
On April 1 the store announced it will close its 5239 53rd Ave. location on June 22.
Manager Holly Proulx said 10 years ago when the store moved into the building there were some problems, but issues have escalated to the point where a security guard was hired to keep people who were drunk or on drugs out of the store– as well as those looking to steal or hangout.
She said police have been called in the past to deal with people who used drugs in the store’s entranceway. Other times people have passed out inside the store.
“They’re always out in the parking lot either shooting up or they’re passed out on the grass. They’re panhandling. We’ve had tires slashed,” said Proulx, adding that confronting them can cause even more trouble.
“Probably every customer that comes through the door is sad that we’re closing, but excited we’re leaving the area.”
She said homeless in the area will camp on boulevards around the store in the summer, and go underneath the building’s emergency exit stairs in the winter. Vandalism has also persisted.
Safe Harbour Society’s emergency shelter is located at the other end of the building leased by Fabricland. Turning Point’s overdose prevention site is in an ATCO trailer in Safe Harbour’s parking lot about half a block away.
Proulx said the community agencies pick up used syringes a couple times a day, and the city removes garbage left behind by homeless. But Fabricland’s lease is coming to an end and head office is looking for a new location to replace the 13,000 square foot site.
She said the store serves Red Deer and central Alberta communities. On busy days staff help 250 to 300 customers.
“We’re still going strong. The rumour going around that we’re going bankrupt is not true. Rumours that all Fabriclands are shutting down, that’s not true either.”
She didn’t know when the store could reopen in another location.
“We’re trying our best. We’ve met so many nice people through the store. Hopefully, we’ll be back. Fingers crossed it won’t be too long,” Proulx said.