An iconic Canadian department store returns from the dead

At a time when malls and empty department stores are trying to be state of the art or risk going out of business, there are very few department stores that evoke nostalgic family memories of family shopping or hiding of a relative in the shelves.

North of the border, there was once such a discount store known as Zellers. The chain of stores has been around since the 1930s and was known for everything from its red shopping carts and a teddy bear mascot named Zeddy to its adjacent 1950s-style restaurant called “The Skillet”.

Selling everything from discount food and clothing to children’s toys and appliances, Zellers was a place many sought out affordable items. Zellers’ motto was “Where the lowest price is the law”.

“I have vivid memories of being a young child and sitting in the big shopping cart while my mom showed me around the store,” Halifax resident Dong Ngo told the outlet. Canadian CTV News. “From the food to the driver in the store, Zellers was the childhood place to be.”

Many were also called Zellers their mom’s favorite shop.

Zellers and a long history with the Hudson’s Bay Company

The chain of stores belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) since 1990. In 1999, it peaked in popularity with 350 stores across Canada.

But in a fate known to thousands of large and small department stores, the tide turned and Zellers ceased to be profitable. HBC itself was privatized between 2006 and 2012, and new management at Zellers struggled to balance low prices with profitability.

As US retail giant Target (TGT) ready to enter the Canadian market in the early 2010s, it purchased the lease of the more than 200 remaining Zellers locations and began closing some, renovating others, and converting several to Targets.

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In 2011, the decision was made to liquidate the remaining Zellers stores.

Sometimes the department stores come back

Canadians entered the new era of American retail giants, but never really forgot or got over the absence of Zellers – in the next decade, not a month would go by that Zellers didn’t appears on a “remember when” post or roundup.

The good news is that on Wednesday, HBC announced plans to reopen Zellers as both a regular department store and an online store by 2023.

Even after the last Zellers stores closed in 2012, the HBC retained the rights to the Zellers name and occasionally toyed with nostalgic pop-ups in select Canadian cities.

“Zellers is a brand deeply rooted in the Canadian experience,” Zellers Chief Business Officer Adam Powell said in a statement. “People from generation to generation have had a distinct connection to Zellers through shared experiences with family and friends, and we look forward to continuing this momentum in the future.”

While HBC hasn’t released information on how many and how many Zellers stores will open, it said it plans to stick with the original low-cost, all-you-can-eat shopping experience. to imagine. Item categories will include appliances and hardware, toys, food, pet accessories, and decor.

Clothing, plus private label available at stores like Walmart (WMT) and Target, will come shortly after the first stores reopen.

Canadians, meanwhile, celebrated the return of Zellers on social media while some pointed out that Zellers wouldn’t be Zellers without HBC also committing to reopening the famed restaurant.

“Bring back the Zellers restaurant!” Jon Liedtke wrote on Twitter (TWTR) .