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London Drugs has eye on Whistler

Chain store still searching for suitable location



London Drugs is coming to Whistler but its arrival is being held up by the lack of real estate options in the village.

London Drugs Vice President of Human Resources Clint Mahlman said the company would definitely open a store in Whistler but the timing of it is yet to be determined.

"Whistler has been a market that we find very interesting and we have looked at a number of properties and possibilities for a number of years now," Mahlman said.

"We know there are lots of rumours about us coming in but we’re far from being able to announce anything.

"When you make different real estate decisions a lot of people have to be consulted and often what happens is that different developers contact us and that’s how the rumours get going."

London Drugs began in Vancouver in 1945 and slowly expanded into an enormous chain of stores that supply everything from pharmacy items to electronic equipment.

Mahlman said the biggest challenge in Whistler was finding a piece of real estate big enough to accommodate London Drugs’ needs.

"We would like to offer the Whistler clientele the same experience as we do in other locations, however one of our challenges will be to find a location which is big enough."

As the Olympics draw closer many big-name brands will be attempting to move into Whistler but Mahlman said London Drugs had been interested in Whistler since "long before the Olympic announcement".

"London Drugs makes long-term decisions and we’re not going to be the type of company that comes into the community to simply take advantage of the Olympics; that’s not our style.

"Whichever community we go to we always invest for the long term, and while we’re hopeful that it happens before the Olympics we’re certainly not putting that pressure on ourselves.

"Whistler real estate is very unique and certainly as retailers it creates a great challenge to find the right location at the right price.

"But we know we’ll be successful some day, it’s just a matter of finding the right spot."

Mahlman confirmed that London Drugs had most recently been looking at moving into the location that is now occupied by the Eddie Bauer store.

"What I can say is that location, amongst others, is one of the ones we’ve looked at, but it did not work out."

Representatives at the Eddie Bauer store confirmed that London Drugs was interested in the location when the lease on the store came up for renewal, but this interest has since been quashed.

"We continue to work with a number of people looking at a number of opportunities," Mahlman said.

Despite these setbacks when London Drugs does come to Whistler it will put a lot of pressure on the existing pharmacies and convenience stores to lower prices.

But the owner of Village Square Pharmacy, Dave Stewart, said he would not be making any moves until the rumours were confirmed.

"I heard Staples were coming into the industrial park as well but as far as I’m concerned London Drugs is just another rumour until it actually happens," Stewart said.