Can Zellers make it?


This story really made me stop, read, and think of the possibilities.

Zellers is coming back: Hudson’s Bay to resurrect Canadian discount retail chain next year

I suspect that, like many, I never really thought deeply about stores until I went to university and was out on my own. Growing up in a small town, we basically had a Stedmans store and that was about it. You didn’t always get what you wanted but I didn’t have much money and so often had to make due with what was available. At Christmas time, we did get a chance to go to Goderich to shop at Woolworth or a special trip to London and a visit to Simpsons. Money didn’t seem to go far enough so Stedmans was often the goto place.

At university, I moved to an actual city – Waterloo – where we had all kinds of options. I remember fondly wandering around Eatons in downtown Kitchener. As I type this, I seem to remember spending a disproportional amount of time in the engagement ring section. They seemed to have everything really nice but it came with a premium price. A bus ride would take us to Fairview Park and the Woolco store. Or, there was a Zellers store that was within walking distance of my apartment. Did you notice how I worked all those stores into the discussion?!

There is a sense of difference in quality between the higher-end stores and the others. I’ve only had a couple of girlfriends in my life but I also went to the higher-end places for gifts. I don’t know if they appreciate it but it made me feel good to think that I was getting something nicer. It remains the same today with The Bay being the destination.

As I read the story, I see scenarios where the Zellers would be a separate area within The Bay or going online. It seems like a hybrid between an Amazon or a bigger department store. I wonder if the product areas will be a clearing space for a product that isn’t moving at The Bay or a way to get people into The Bay store and hanging around longer and maybe buying from both stores while customers are there.

My biggest memories of Zellers were that the one in Windsor was our go-to place for back-to-school things. They would always have a big area devoted to products that only students would need – like paper, pencils, pencil crayons, binders, … It was always jammed towards the end of August.

Around here, I don’t know that it will make a big difference in our shopping patterns. We have a big Walmart store that fills so many needs and desires. We would have to drive into the city if The Bay store there opens a Zellers area. Would we do it? In the beginning, in a heartbeat. If not for the products, just the nostalgia is worth a drive.

The biggest question will be would we return on a regular basis. To be successful, they’ve going to have to compete and win against the Amazons and Walmarts of this world. That’s going to be a tough order.

I wonder – what would make you become a Zellers’ customer again?

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OTR Links 08/22/2022


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