image001

New Princess Auto opens March 16

March 6, 2015

The new Princess Auto just off Mapleton Road at the Trans-Canada highway is almost ready to open.

The Princess will be holding court for the first time at her new castle at Mapleton Crossing in Moncton starting on Monday, March 16 at 8 a.m.

That’s Princess Auto Ltd., to be clear.

“Our last day at this location is March 14,” says Maxine McMaster, team leader at PA’s current location in the Northwest Centre at 1380 Mountain Rd.

“We close at 6 p.m. on that day, and that will be it for this store.”

For about 15 years, the Princess has catered to gear heads and gizmo lovers across New Brunswick from its busy Moncton location, so busy in fact that two years ago the national chain opened a new store in Saint John and is now about to make the move into a new Moncton store. Crews are now stocking the shelves and training staff to accommodate customers at their new location just off Mapleton Road, next to the Trans-Canada Highway or Route 2.

The March 16 opening is what those in the industry call a “soft opening,” which means all will be ready for the arrival of the first customers, however a big grand opening will be held a month later, on April 14.

The new 25,000-square-foot stand-alone building isn’t a lot bigger than the existing premises, but the modernized shelves and racking mean the Princess can stock more goods, and the much bigger parking lot was a no-brainer given the crowds drawn to their existing Mountain Road location, where parking could sometimes be at a premium.

Princess Auto has nothing to do with princesses, and autos are only a small segment of the bigger market that they target. The chain started as Princess Auto Wrecking in 1933. The original owner sold the company to Harvey Tallman in 1942 for the money he received when he sold his truck. Tallman sold auto parts from his small outlet on Princess Street in Winnipeg, expanding in the 1950s to selling products in demand by farmers across Canada.

After years of steady growth, in 1977, Princess Auto became a retailer, opening its first store in Edmonton. The chain now boasts 38 stores across the country, offering such a unique line of products that it makes it hard to pin down a description for the chain.

They divide their lines into five categories. Under Workshop, you’ll find garage and shop equipment. Driveline features electric motors, gas engines, and hydraulics — with every component in between. Their Trailer category contains everything to repair or upgrade a trailer, or even build one from scratch. All Seasons has those items you need at special times of the year like tarps, fans, pumps, generators and log splitters. The Surplus section features a constantly changing variety of overstocks, hardware, electronics, discontinued and factory-reconditioned items.

Long-time customers of the Moncton store will see a lot of familiar faces at the new location as all of the current staff will resume their duties at the new quarters. The new store will offer the same hours, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays; from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

The new location provides the Princess with a high visibility location yet with easy access and egress. Business should get even busier later this year when Cabelas Canada opens right next door to PA. The Cabelas building is almost complete and hiring is underway for their 50,000 square foot premises. The two stores rank among the most popular in Canada in many demographics, and are expected to spur further development of the Mapleton Crossing shopping area.

Cabelas is expected to open in late spring or early summer.

Meanwhile, the Princess would rather sell than move the stock at their current location in the Northwest Centre. They have cut prices up to 75 per cent, and until Saturday they are offering 20 per cent off the lowest ticketed price on everything in the store, McMaster said.

“We will move what we have left after that,” she said, “but we haven’t had any trucks come in for the past few days.”

Mapleton Crossing is being developed by Cordova Realty.

Photo: GREG AGNEW/TIMES & TRANSCRIPT