Fields Store Manager Cheryl Hamel is all smiles after the news the store will stay open thanks to a company purchasing the leases on a number of stores slated for closure this year. Ruth Lloyd Photo

Fields Store Manager Cheryl Hamel is all smiles after the news the store will stay open thanks to a company purchasing the leases on a number of stores slated for closure this year. Ruth Lloyd Photo

Saved! – Fort St. James retailer expects to stay open

The local Fields store expects to keep its doors open in Fort St. James after all.

The local Fields store expects to keep its doors open in Fort St. James after all.

The HBC announced in February it would be closing 141 stores operating under the name of Fields, but on Tuesday, March 6, some great news came across Store Manager Cheryl Hamel’s email inbox.

She received notice the local outlet, a fixture in the community for the past 30 years,  had been purchased by another company and would now remain open.

The details have yet to be finalized, but a tentative agreement has been confirmed between HBC and FHC for the purchase of the lease for 37 Fields stores in total.

This includes Fields stores in Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, Kitimat, 100 Mile House, Houston, Masset and Port McNeill.

For her part, Hamel said she, her employees and local customers were “ecstatic” when they got the news.

“I didn’t believe what I was reading,” said Hamel, about the email the store would remain open. She called in one of her sales associates to confirm it was really happening.

The company then held a follow-up conference call to inform the impacted stores.

Customers in the store at the time told  The Courier they were very glad to hear the store will remain open.

“If we lose this, you can’t even buy a pair of socks in town,” said one customer who said she shops in the store every couple of weeks at least and called it the “go-to” place.

“That was the best news I’ve had in awhile,”  said another.

Hamel said the plan so far is for the store to retain its name and inventory at this point, and the tentative takeover date is set for May 1, if all goes as planned.

The store is important for the last minute items people might need or forget to pick up in the city, and is especially important for both the elderly and people from outlying reserves who may not be able to get into Prince George as often, according to Hamel and some of her customers in the store.