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Hard hit by pandemic, Sudbury's Elm Place mall sees growth


Sudbury's downtown mall says it has seen some positive momentum and growth heading out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Robert Green, Elm Place property manager, said since the start of this year, the mall has seen nine new tenants sign with them to open up shop.

"It has been very active as of late where people are interested in Elm Place and more people are interested in downtown, it's all been very positive," he said.

Green said there have been several renovations, including a refurbishment of the parking garage.

"It's a lot of new identities that fulfill the retail space and provide a lot of unique aspects to the downtown," he said.

One of the new tenants is Mindmelt Studio Arts Collective, created by multimedia artist Mark Gagne.

Gagne said he was considering organizing a pop-up shop, but then a friend recommended renting a space in the mall instead. Mindmelt held its grand opening on May 11 and Gagne said there was a good turnout.

"The reception has been really good, especially with the workshops that we're going to do starting in June," he said.

Making the transition from his home studio to the space in the mall has allowed Gagne to work on larger pieces.

Gagne shares the space with 13 other local artists, who will be holding various workshops.

"We have painters, we have illustrators, we have a potter, so right now we're going to have different workshops for all the different crafts," he said.

Last month, Full Circle Art Gallery opened its doors at Elm Place. Art collector and owner Bruno Gauthier said opening an art gallery has been a dream of his for some time, to showcase his passion for Indigenous woodland art.

Sudbury's downtown mall says it has seen some positive momentum and growth heading out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Woodland art stems from the grandfather of it all, which is Norville Morriseau that started this genre and a lot of people followed suit, including artists from Manitoulin Island," Gauthier said.

"You'll see 12 different artists in the exhibition and also over 100 paintings, so it's quite a collection and it's actually one of Canada's largest collections."

Gauthier grew up in Sudbury and his father owned an art gallery under a different name. Gauthier purchased the collection from his mother years later and said he wanted his gallery to be downtown.

"We want to be part of the downtown and we want to be part of the solution," he said.

Gauthier's spring gallery will run until next month and he plans to offer various workshops over the coming months.

Home of farmers market

Meanwhile, the Sudbury Farmers Market has made Elm Place its permanent home.

When the decision was announced last year, there were several concerns from vendors and shoppers, but manager Jane Lang said it's helped grow the market.

"It has grown so much and the interest of the people has grown as well,” Lang said.

“Our traffic numbers have risen, our average traffic is 2,000 people every Saturday which is amazing. We average 55 to 65 vendors every week.”

Finding a permanent home downtown was important, Lang said.

"Every city has their market downtown and it helps revitalize what COVID has done to downtowns across Canada," Lang said.

"We want permanency, because every time we have to move, we lose people and people forget about us. We don’t want to go too much bigger but we want to keep consistency."

She added accessibility is a driving factor for increased traffic.

"We're accessible and we have transit here," she said.

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Market Saturdays will soon offer a hybrid of indoor and outdoor shopping. There will also be an additional market on Thursdays at Bell Park.

Lang said the Farmers' Market is always in need of sponsors, volunteers and individuals to sit on the board. Top Stories

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