Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald
Blue and yellow balloons and a large ‘now open’ banner are painting a new business in the Cornerstone area.
Princess Auto decided just over a year ago it needed to satisfy Prince Albert’s farm, hydraulics and industrial needs. They can be found at 801 15th St. East.
Its grand opening was on Tuesday morning, which was a little nerve wracking at first for Ken Ouwendyk in retail operations.
“(At) 6:30, there was five guys outside and we’re going ‘oh no.’ There’s nobody coming. We were nervous, honestly, but (at) 7 there was 250 out there. At 8, there was like 600,” he said.
Shortly before 7, they declared themselves officially open with a twist on a ribbon cutting.
“We’re Princess Auto so we want to be a little bit different, you know, we consider ourselves to be a bit unique and fun, so we thought let’s do the chain cutting,” said Ouwendyk.
Mayor Greg Dionne was there to do the honours, but quickly found out cutting a chain isn’t as swift.
Ouwendyk explained normally they cut the chain slightly beforehand, but forgot in this case, causing Dionne to struggle.
“It was kinda funny to watch him try and cut the chain, and there was 200 guys out there, right? All of our customers were standing out there and they’re sort of looking at him, sort of giggling a little bit,” he said.
Store Manager Laura Kramps said she could feel the hype in the air.
“It was just energized; energized is the word. It was buzzing,” she said. “We knocked it out of the park.”
She noted customers in the city and surrounding areas are saying it’ll be nice not to have to drive for hours to pick up their products.
“They’re so excited they don’t have to do that jaunt to Saskatoon and back. They can just come right on in here and get what they need.”
As Ouwendyk explained, all team members are from the Prince Albert area with no prior experience with the company. He said they were excited to show their involvement to the community.
“I think it’s going to be a really successful store and I think eventually in the future, we might even have to grow this store,” he said.
“PA is opening in PA…it’s like it was meant to be,” said Senior Vice-President of Customer Experience, Ken Larson, in a news release from May.
“I mean look at this place: Prince Albert is a thriving city smack in the middle of the province, with prairie on one side and forest on the other…it’s a no-brainer to set up a store, here.”
Princess Auto’s home office is in Winnipeg.
Across Saskatchewan, they also have offices in Regina and Saskatoon.