The Paint Shop is expanding its considerable presence in Atlantic Canada, with two new locations in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia set to open later this month.
One of the new stores will be in St. John’s, located next door to Cohen’s Home Furnishings on Kenmount Road. It will be the company’s fourth location in the St. John’s metro area, with two already in St. John’s and one in Mount Pearl. Meanwhile, the new Nova Scotia store will be in Lower Sackville. It will be the company’s fifth location within Halifax Regional Municipality, preceded by three Halifax stores and one in Dartmouth.
Once the new stores open, The Paint Shop will have 36 locations across the region. Plans for this expansion pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic and the company has opened one new location, a Benjamin Moore retail store purchased in Saint John, N.B., since it started.
“It’s just really about us expanding our network of Paint Shop locations in areas that we feel we can better service our customers,” said Rob Simms, vice-president of sales and marketing for The Paint Shop. “Lower Sackville was identified quite a while ago, and we had looked at Kenmount Road, and it really came down to finding the right location that worked for all parties.”
Although expansion plans were in place pre-pandemic, most businesses are continually tinkering amidst a very uncertain economic climate. That said, the pandemic has not been so bad for companies with a stake in home renovation projects.
“In terms of what we saw looking back on 2020 now, the do-it-yourself or DIY market has really grown — I would even say probably exploded — in terms of so many customers new and pre-existing that are coming in,” Simms said.
Highlighting some of the more common projects customers are tackling of late, Simms points to finishing work on kitchen cabinets as a popular job for people getting accustomed to spending more time at home. Cabinet paint sales were up 63 per cent in 2020 over the previous year for The Paint Shop. Paint for vinyl siding was popular last summer amongst the company’s clientele, with 2020 sales up 76 per cent. Customers have also worked on their home office space, he said, to create an environment they’re happy to work in.
“Just so much interest from customers who want to tackle some of these things themselves, and I think a lot of it is based on people not travelling as much and just renewed interest in spending some more time and attention on their house,” Simms said.
Aware of an increased interest in online shopping, The Paint Shop is getting ready to introduce a service where customers can order products online and pick them up from a store. But Simms added a lot of shoppers still rely on the in-store experience when it comes to paint.
“They want those colour chips in their hand, or the flooring sample to really touch and feel,” he said. “We’ve done everything from phone, to Teams or Skype calls, to Zoom calls with customers to help them. But the good old fashion visit to a store is still the number one way that our business sells.”
In terms of location, Simms is particularly pleased about the Kenmount Road one, recognizing their business and Cohen’s offer complementary services.
“I think there’s a lot of synergy and helpfulness for the customer as well,” he said. “They don’t have to make 10 trips to redecorate.”
The Lower Sackville store will be located at 512 Sackville Dr. across from a McDonald’s restaurant.
“I think I just heard the other day that there was a paint store there many moons ago,” Simms added. “We’re turning it back into what it once was, I guess.”
The new St. John’s location should be ready to open in mid-February, with the Lower Sackville store targeting a late-February opening. The two stores will employ seven-to-eight workers combined. The Paint Shop is headquartered in Mount Pearl and employs approximately 150 people across Atlantic Canada.
Andrew Robinson is a business reporter in St. John’s.