In just nine days, Iqaluit’s Northmart has gone from a raging fire to a fire sale, with residents lining up at 9 am on Saturday morning to get in on some of the savings.
Northmart supplies Iqaluit with about 60 per cent of the groceries, and is the largest retail store in the city.
On November 8, fire destroyed the Northmart’s warehouse, furniture store and snowmobile shop.
The retail and grocery stores were saved.
A 17 year-old girl is facing a charge of arson endangering human life following the fire.
(On Nov. 8, thick black smoke blanketed Iqaluit. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN)
More than a week later, the fresh food has been replaced, and all retail merchandise was 50 per cent off.
For many residents, the sales were a draw, but the selection provided by having the largest retail store in the territory back was appreciated.
“I’m excited for the store to reopen,” said Elisapee Nowdluk just as the doors were opening. “It’s a big store based for groceries, and I miss that, the bakery, and the meat.”
(With all merchandise 50 per cent off, many Iqaluit residents were stocking up on big ticket items. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN)
The store looks remarkably untouched on the inside.
A double firewall and five metres of space separated the warehouse from the sales floor.
There is a noticeable smoky smell remaining.
All of the fresh food in the store was disposed after the fire, and the fate of the rest was decided on a case by case basis.
“The fresh food absolutely had to go,” said David Chatyrbok, vice president of major markets for the Northwest Company. “We worked with the health inspector, identified all the different product that had to go, so that product had to go.
“Then everything we could donate, we absolutely worked with the health department to make sure we knew what could be donated, and we are donating that food.”
(The lines were long, but deals were there for those who could bear the wait. Photo: Kent Driscoll/APTN)
According to the Northwest Company, reopening the store was a 24 hours a day task that was happening right up until the moment they opened the doors.
“This was the local individuals that did all of this work for us. We have to thank the community, the first responders, and all of our staff,” said Chatyrbok.
While most departments have reopened, the meat and frozen food sections still require some more product.
Until the meat shop is clean and repaired, butchering will take place in the Northern Store in nearby Pangnirtung, and the cuts of meat will then be flown to Iqaluit.