Gerry Vanherk looks on as the ribbon is cut to mark the official grand opening of the new Hart department store at the Downtown Chatham Centre. May 15, 2018. (Photo by Greg Higgins)

Hart Of The City? New Department Store Opens Downtown

A big void has been filled in the community as a new department store has officially moved into the empty lot left by SportChek in the Downtown Chatham Centre.

Hart had its grand opening Wednesday morning, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony, cake, and a speech from the regional manager for Ontario, Gerry Vanherk, who was pleased with the turnout.

“There were at least 100 people here for the opening and they just keep pouring in all day long,” Vanherk said.

One of those who poured in was Joan who believed the store was much needed.

“I think it is excellent and it takes the place of Sears,” Joan said. “Everyone misses Sears and I think Hart will do well. The store was very needed and it’s in the right place.”

Vanherk couldn’t put an exact number on all the indirect jobs the new store has created, but said the store itself has 30 employees and depending on its success, could add more.

Hart is a Quebec-based company which offers clothing, toys, furnishings, and other products. It has over 100 stores, but only 16 in Ontario. Vanherk said the company is trying to expand throughout Southern Ontario and thought Chatham was the perfect spot.

“The demographics of the region were certainly something that had not been represented by Hart,” he said. “We saw a need here and we couldn’t be happier to be in Chatham.”