Many of the customers who came to Lowe’s grand opening in Brampton, Ontario, didn’t have any specific purchases in mind; they just came to check it out.
Brampton residents Matt and Lori Simpson were among the crowd to visit the Brampton store, one of three Ontario locations that officially opened Dec.10. The couple disagreed in a way that shows the promise and challenge facing Lowe’s in Canada.
Lori described the new Lowe’s store as a welcome addition to the Canadian home improvement landscape. “It’s really well lit,” she said. “The aisles are so wide, and everything’s so easy to find.”
Matt said he didn’t like it: “It’s not Canadian.” His Canada-first attitude applies to more than just Lowe’s. He doesn’t shop at the Brampton Home Depot either.
The couple’s disagreement reflects conflicting attitudes that Lowe’s hopes to leverage, as well as overcome, as it expands throughout an already mature Canadian market.
Lowe’s Canada president Don Stallings is working full steam to build a chain that’s not only customer-friendly, but Canadian-friendly. Three additional stores are slated to open Feb. 1, and a seventh is planned to open shortly after that. Beyond those seven, the company has more than 15 additional Canadian sites on the drawing board or in various stages of development.
Stallings said Lowe’s has intentionally taken its time between planning and opening—more than two years. “What we’ve done has been very methodical,” said Stallings. “We’ve taken literally years to be able to select products and recognize what’s really needed in the marketplace.”
“It’s a Canadian business basically,” he told Home Channel News. “I’ve had many people ask me ‘Is n’t this basically just the United States operation dropped up North?’ And that’s not the case. It’s a Canadian business that’s being staffed by Canadians, being managed at the local level at the stores by all Canadians.”
Stallings said that the company doesn’t want to be seen as a U.S. big box setting up the same stores with the same models as their U.S. locations. To combat that perception, the company took more than two years researching the Canadian market, hiring Canadian merchants and buying Canadian products. He added that the company wanted to offer the Canadian consumer a unique shopping experience, with wide aisles, helpful associates and well-lit st