Starbucks permanently closes prime location in Vancouver’s Gastown after nearly 30 years

Click to play video: 'Busy Starbucks location in Gastown suddenly closes doors'
Busy Starbucks location in Gastown suddenly closes doors
After almost 30 years in operation, the Starbucks located in Gastown at Cambie and Water Streets has suddenly closed its doors. – Jan 3, 2023

Starbucks has suddenly closed a prime location across from the steam clock in Vancouver’s Gastown.

The store at 199 Water Street operated for 28 years before it shut down permanently on Dec. 31, 2022.

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Casualties of COVID: big retail not immune to financial pressures of pandemic

Starbucks Canada said the decision to close the Gastown store was made after careful consideration.

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“As a standard practice, Starbucks continually evaluates its store portfolio to ensure it’s meeting the needs of partners (employees), customers and the communities in which it serves.… The company has provided partners at this location the opportunity to transfer to a new opportunity within Starbucks,” read a statement from Starbucks Canada public affairs director Carly Suppa.

Retail strategist David Ian Gray with DIG360 Consulting said in recent years, Starbucks has been slowly but consistently closing urban stores in favour of drive-through and partnerships in Canada.

“Gastown is not what it was, that’s for sure,” Gray told Global News.

“It likely coincided with the end date of the lease. Sometimes the penalty for early termination is prohibitive.”

Gray also said soaring rent is a real issue for retailers right now, with already struggling businesses fighting landlords’ desires for maximum rent – whether or not lease rates properly align with the potential of their neighbourhoods.

Starbucks Canada did not comment when asked if high rent played a role in the decision to close the Gastown store.

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The coffee giant’s Seabus Station location nearby, the first Starbucks store in Canada, remains open.

Corbel Commercial Real Estate Services said a ‘For Lease’ brochure for 199 Water Street will be finalized shortly.

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