North Island Mall photo Aerial shot from a drone in an advertising video produced last year.

North Island Mall revitalizes as new stores open

Dirom wants to “create a vibrant new space in the community by working together” with new business.

North Island Mall is open for business, says owner Carol Dirom. The mall, which is a local family owned and managed facility, offers office space to a variety of clients.

On the North Island Mall’s website, it’s stated that the family has operated with “small town values” for over 25 years. In 2019, the family will celebrate their 25th anniversary owning Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish.

The family bought out half of the building, but came to realize there was business potential for the rest of the other side. They now own the entire building as of 2016, rebranding it as the North Island Mall.

“We’re committed to supporting economic growth in our community,” states the website. The online post concluded that the owners are all about “hands-on ownership”. The Dirom’s go the extra mile by providing food, refreshments, and many other services to events held in their newly opened Rendezvous Place.

In an in-person interview, Dirom noted that the North Island Mall was a huge undertaking. As for the success in terms of being able to purchase commercial property with a high vacancy, “we knew we were taking on a big job,” she said.

She also noted that the family’s past experience running Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish made the North Island Mall possible. “Everything we learned through all the years,” she added, “that definitely has given us the tools to come into a project of this magnitude and make the whole thing a success.”

Dirom is confident, however, that the revitalization of the mall is manageable, but may take some time. “If there’s anyone that can pull this off through hard work, it’s my husband, my family, and the people we’ve surrounded ourselves with. Everyone’s ready and on board,” she mentioned.

“We’re most definitely open for business,” she said. “I’m all about building up other businesses, and at the end of the day,” she added, “it’s about breathing life back into this building, whatever it takes. I totally understand the challenges of small business on the North Island.”

She also realized that costs like overhead, lights, and rent are part of the struggles small businesses face, so she works with each tenant to plan the process out. “It’s about working together to find a way to get them in, help us take care of our costs, and at the end of the day, create a vibrant new space in the community by working together,” she concluded.

“I definitely have a goal. We started this about a year and a half ago, I had said in two years I want all the spaces filled. It’s been a big job. You really have to work with new tenants.” She emphasized that the North Island Mall, totalling 12 acres of property, has two acres of paved parking. “We’re not stopping at filling the inside. We’re open to any options anyone wants to put forward, but we’re very aware of the business community that already exists.”

In purchasing the other half of the building, Bruce and Carol Dirom brought in their son, Dylan. She said it was about building a legacy and helping Dylan cement some roots in the community.

The North Island Mall has a number of different stores that have already opened, like Evolve Fitness, Port Hardy Dental Center (Blue Ocean), and Northern Bliss Day Spa. Other stores that may be coming to the building include Evolve Nutrition, a health food store, and Stellar Jay Organics (which is pending council’s licensing approval). Dirom also noted that unit #8, which is over 3,000 square feet of newly renovated office space is open for rent.

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THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO A Fresh Coffee and Nosh barista serves a local during the afternoon.

THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO The new Northern Bliss and Spa opened recently.

THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO Fil-Can offers Filipino-Asian variety products in North Island Mall.

THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO The old North Island College space is now used for regular meetings and special events, like the recently held meeting to provide information on FASD.

THOMAS KERVIN PHOTO Steampunk Tammy runs her small business in the North Island Mall, offering jewelry.

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