Princess Auto customers in Central Alberta should be walking through bigger doors into a bigger store by the fall of 2014.

Princess Auto developing store-of-future design

Princess Auto customers in Central Alberta should be walking through bigger doors into a bigger store by the fall of 2014.

Princess Auto customers in Central Alberta should be walking through bigger doors into a bigger store by the fall of 2014.

The retailer — which sells a variety of equipment, tools and other products — is developing a first-of-its-kind store in Gasoline Alley, north of Costco. At 28,000 square feet, it will be one of the biggest Princess Autos in the 36-store chain, but will have the newest look.

“We call it the store-of-the-future design,” said Brian Harcus, senior retail project leader with the Winnipeg-based company.

“We’ve only just recently completed the final design of the new exterior.”

Cristen Cournoyer, Princess Auto’s director of marketing and communications, agreed that the Red Deer County store will be unique.

“There’s no other store that’s going to be like it.”

In addition to having a dominant logo on its exterior, the building will be “bigger and brighter” inside, and easier to shop at than Princess Auto’s existing store at 6833 66th St. in Red Deer, said Cournoyer.

About 22,000 square feet will be dedicated to retail use, with 4,000 to 5,000 square feet earmarked for warehouse space and the balance to contain offices, said Harcus.

Staffing is expected to increase from the approximately 40 employees that Princess Auto now has in Red Deer.

The cost of the new building wasn’t provided, but Red Deer County issued a $3.75 million permit for the project. Shunda Consulting and Construction Management Ltd. is the contractor.

Currently in its 80th year, Princess Auto was founded in Winnipeg as Princess Auto Wrecking. It later began selling auto parts and other products, becoming a retailer in 1977 with the opening of its first store, in Edmonton.

The business has operated in Red Deer from its current 23,000-square-foot premises since 2002. But it’s been in the city for much longer, said Harcus.

In addition to more space and an improved shopping environment, the new site should provide improved visibility and accessibility for customers, said Harcus.

Cournoyer described the Red Deer area as a “growing, thriving market” for the company.

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