BARRIE -- The rumours are true; the old Sears store at the Georgian Mall in Barrie has been sold and will soon be open.

The purchaser is Barrie-based McCowan and Associates, owners of several properties across the province. McCowan and Associates did not offer comment. The deal is expected to close by January 20, according to court documents.

"It'll help everybody in this plaza, help everybody around," said Marilyn Nikkanen of Coming Attractions Hairstyling. "It's looking so run-down and beat up. We need something here to liven up the area."

Sears Canada closed more than 400 stores across Canada after it filed for bankruptcy in late 2017. The Barrie store at Georgian Mall closed January 13, 2018. More than 100 people lost their jobs as a result of the store's closure. Sears operated in Canada for 65 years. RioCan, owners of Georgian Mall, declined comment on the potential sale.

Shoppers in Barrie expressed excitement upon hearing the news of a new owner moving in.

"I think it's exciting. Big, empty stores aren't great for the community," said Lois McElrea.

Many have speculated the space will be occupied by another major Canadian retailer.

"I don't know. Maybe they split it up into more department stores," said shopper Chris Nicol. "Maybe like a market."

"I think IKEA would be pretty good in this area," said Casey Smith. "Based on Georgian College and some of the housing around here, I think it would be beneficial to the community."