Sylvan Lake couple Kelsi and Gerry Delfrari said they got lucky and found a parking lot immediately at Bower Place on Boxing Day, but the two waited outside the mall for another family member to find a spot. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

People circle around to find parking at Red Deer mall on Boxing Day

Recession, what recession?

Excited and reluctant shoppers alike hit Red Deer’s Bower Place mall on Boxing Day, only to find themselves circling around the parking lot.

A Sylvan Lake couple said they got lucky, but they stood outside the Hudson’s Bay store waiting for another family member to arrive, who was also looking for a parking spot.

“She’s been driving around probably 10 minutes,” said Kelsi Delfrari, as she waited for her daughter.

Husband Gerry said the parking lot was just as busy on Black Friday this year when they arrived right after lunch time.

“So we figured getting here right around 11 would be advantageous (today), but I don’t know,” he said with a chuckle.

Kelsi noted having more parking stalls “would be great” at Bower Place.

In April, demolition began on the former Target store at the south Red Deer mall. The nearly 120,000-square-foot space left by Target Canada’s exodus is to be replaced with a two-storey addition.

Around late July, the fencing on the construction side had been extended considerably. That was to allow for grading and paving of the entire east parking lot.

Shopper’s Drug Mart will move into the mall addition, expected to be completed in fall 2019.

After construction, the mall will have 115 fewer parking stalls, but stalls will be larger to conform to current city regulations. As of April 2018, there were 2,866 stalls.

Two friends hit the stores at Bower Place on Wednesday morning. As soon as the duo came upon the busy parking lot, they came up with a plan: follow people with bags.

“She has a really good eye for people walking up with bags, so we just followed them to their car, and then waited for them to leave, and we took their spot,” said Larissa Just of Red Deer, about her friend Nicole Lambkin, a former Red Deerian who was visiting her family for the holidays.

“But it all happened very quick,” Lambkin said, who was the driver.

Darby Dykslag, a Lacombe resident, arrived at the mall around 9 a.m. to beat the rush.

“(And now) it looks pretty hectic,” said Dykslag, around noon, as she waited in the parking lot for her ride.

“It’s like this pretty much every year. It gets crazy busy for Boxing Day … that’s why I came early.”

Karen Billan of Red Deer drove around for 10 or 15 minutes to find a designated spot for people with disabilities — spots that are usually car free.

“It is crazy busy today, busier than usual. It’s chaotic, because people haven’t taken their time to park properly, so the aisles between the rows are very narrow, so you have to wait and it’s single file driving only.”

She added the mall inside was even busier.

Blackfalds resident John Mucha reluctantly arrived at the mall with his teenage children.

“I try to stay out of here, just too busy,” Mucha said as he waited inside the mall.

“(Circled around for) 15 to 20 minutes to find a parking spot.”

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(From left) Nicole Lambkin and Larissa Just followed people with bags to their car, and waited for them to leave and took their parking spot at Bower Place Wednesday morning. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

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