"Stores and shopping facilities were desperately needed and the Property Department had to explain Kitimat to merchants who knew nothing of local conditions but were considering an investment in the town. The Department endeavoured to interest those who would be in the best position to serve the community. Rumours about Kitimat circled the globe and thousands wrote to find out if the streets were really paved with gold." Kitimat - Kemano: Five Years of Operation, 1954-1959
Kitimat shopping was exceptional - exclusive and top quality! Over the years Terrace residents made their way down the highway to shop in Kitimat at Nechako Centre and City Centre. Nechako Centre, newly completed in1954, was Kitimat's first shopping centre. City Centre shopping opened in 1956. In keeping with the town planner's vision, motor traffic and parking were confined to the exterior bordering regions of the shopping and business areas. The spacious landscaped malls would only be for pedestrian traffic. The Northern Sentinel, May 5, 1955, commented that the Alcan Commercial Building also in City Centre would be a "smart example for future city centre development".
Shopping could also be found in the light industrial area, Service Centre. Temporary buildings B and C opened in 1956 across from the Kitimat-Gordon Hotel open since May 1955. Hotel Manager George Moore required that men wear a white shirt, suit, and tie when attending functions at the Blue Room, the hotel's dining room.
Kitimat's Business Community
The Kitimat Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1955. Its founding members included a florist, a shoe store, banks, a dairy, appliance sales, a barber, several professionals, and Alcan. The Business and Professional Women's Club (1957 - 1977) provided a network for local businesswomen, sponsoring international dinners, a graduation tea, and two scholarships.
The Kitimat Lions' Club saw a need to hold a Trade Fair for northwest businesses - the first held in 1963. "…It will enhance goodwill and stimulate purchasing within the communities" Northern Sentinel, May 16, 1963. A car and boat show was held outside and approximately 40 exhibitors - many from out of town - displayed inside. By 1968, the Fair was approaching the 10,000 mark for attendees to the three-day event held at the YMCA, now Riverlodge.