Army & Navy closes West Hastings section as Vancouver discount store marks 2019 centennial

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      One of Vancouver’s oldest retailers is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

      Army & Navy has announced on social media that it is working on the “relaunch” of its “newly-renovated store” downtown at 36 West Cordova Street.

      "2019 is all about celebrating Army & Navy’s 100th anniversary. I am thrilled to be honouring the business my Grandpa Sam started in 1919," president and CEO Jacqui Cohen said in a statement. "To mark the occasion I decided to create a better shopping experience for our customers by consolidating and revitalizing the Cordova Store."

      "Army & Navy has been a viable business for a century because we’ve never forgotten who we are," she continued. "We take pride in serving all members of our community and are excited to welcome new customers to the Cordova Store."

      The company has closed the West Hastings Street section of the store.

      "As for the Hastings Street section, there are a lot of opportunities and I receive calls of inquiry every day," Cohen said. "There is particular interest from the creative economy  but there is no imminent announcement. It’s nice to be so wanted."

      It is unclear at this time whether or not Army & Navy will re-open the West Hastings section.

      A poster about the store’s relaunch states that it will have “one entrance”, with 36 West Cordova Street as the address.

      The West Hastings portion is connected to the West Cordova site by an alley and an underground passage.

      Poster says the store will have only one entrance.

      The discount store business has two other locations in B.C.: New Westminster and Langley. There are also Army & Navy stores in Alberta.

      Army & Navy was founded in 1919 by Sam Cohen.

      According to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, Army & Navy has occupied the West Cordova site called the Dunn-Miller Block since 1948.

      “Sam Cohen opened his first business in 1919 at the age of 22, selling goods, primarily army boots, at a rented storefront at 44 W Hastings,” the heritage group notes on its website about the department store. “Two years later he opened Army and Navy, a store that was based off of buying distressed goods (bought from stores closing down) and army surplus. Cohen’s philosophy was to sell his products at affordable prices and the store was constantly offering new product.”

      It also recalls that Cohen’s granddaughter Jacqui became president and CEO in 1998.

      “Army and Navy is one of the last remaining, and longest running departments stores in downtown Vancouver and is the oldest retailer in Gastown,” according to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. “Its legendary shoe sale, first held in 1949, is still a yearly event.”