Retail Innovation Centre and Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market Look to the Future

Sobey School of Business student Drew Blair at The Shelf in the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market

Sobey School of Business student Drew Blair at The Shelf in the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market

What will retail look like in 25 years?

By this fall, a new partnership aims to have a retail space in the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market offer a glimpse into that innovative future.

Saint Mary’s University is committed to lifelong learning, supporting innovation and engaging with community, and this project, I am pleased to say, reflects all these commitments.
— Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President Academic and Research, Saint Mary’s University

This morning, representatives of the Market and Saint Mary’s University signed an MoU establishing the Seaport Market’s retail space called The Shelf as the first outpost of the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services’ Retail Imagination Lab.

Overlooking the harbour from the Galley on the second floor of the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, Executive Director Julie Chaisson pointed out that this event was steeped in history: Canada’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market partnering with one of the country’s oldest universities, along with a research centre and business school named for one of Canada’s outstanding historic retail families, the Sobeys. “But this is not about the past—today, we look to the future.”

Retail innovations range widely, from data-informed store layouts, to video shelf talkers and robot sales associates, to virtual reality online and interactive digital environments. Which technology innovation should a retailer invest in? And how can the ROI be measured?

This partnership will allow us to extend our support into new areas of innovation and technology that may not otherwise have been possible.
— Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market Executive Director Julie Chaisson

These are the kind of questions that fires the imagination of researchers and retail analysts alike, and the Retail Imagination Lab will provide a setting to carry out pilot projects in a controlled space, with researchers there to observe, record and analyse results.

The David Sobey Centre will provide the experiments and innovation, and the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market will provide space, data access and other support through The Shelf. Students from Saint Mary’s University’s Sobey School of Business have been hired to establish the first set of innovations later this summer.

Julie Chaisson, Executive Director of the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, Executive Director and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President Academic and Research, Saint Mary’s University

Julie Chaisson, Executive Director of the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, Executive Director and Dr. Malcolm Butler, Vice President Academic and Research, Saint Mary’s University