Back alleys offer prime location without the price, say store owners

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call a shopping area in Saskatoon “off Broadway" because these shops are located in the back alleys of the popular Broadway Ave. stores.

Six shops have opened in the alley behind the popular Broadway Ave. storefronts

A sign points customers to the entrance of Tamarack General Store, located in the back alley of Broadway Ave. (CBC News)

It wouldn’t be inaccurate to call a shopping area in Saskatoon “off Broadway.”

That's because the shops are located in the back alleys of the popular Broadway Avenue stores.

Some business owners say the cost of rent on Broadway is too high for them, but the back alley locations offer the perks of the area without the price.

Richard Anderson opened Tamarack General Store in 2013. 

“It intrigues people to come here,” said Anderson. “It’s a little bit of an adventure for them to find a little gem.”

In 2009, the local business association’s development plan identified alleys as a place where businesses can grow. Currently, it has six shops operating from there.

Sarah Marchildon of the Broadway Business Improvement District said that she hopes someday the back alleys will have a European-type vibe, complete with cobblestones.

“My dream is literally a great walk way to walk on, twinkly lights to create a ceiling, plenty of front door accesses that come out and and just have a livelihood and have that pedestrian feel,” she said.

Most of the alley shops were in place before the business association pushed for expansion, but in order for it to grow further they will have to sort out some zoning issues with the city including how to get snow plows in the narrow alley during the winter.

Still, the business association says the current shops are doing well.

Nancy Grummet of Clay Studio Three says her business is benefiting from more traffic than when she first opened in 2005.

“When we started there wasn’t as many (people). Now there’s people walking because it’s a comfortable alley. It’s clean,” she said.

with files from CBC's Marc Apollonio