As a teenager and young adult, I worked at a Zellers location in a small town. Like many in small-town Ontario I was sad to see the staple of my shopping trips close down years ago, as I was building a family of my own. By 2013 Hudson’s Bay had closed down nearly every Zellers location in Canada.
This year, Zellers is making a return to the market, with their stores inside current Hudson’s Bay locations. The Hudson’s Bay Company purchased Zellers in 1978, and the department stores saw their peak in the 1990s (which was when I worked there.)
According to a release from the company, the “beloved Canadian brand” has announced the planned locations for its first 25 Zellers store experiences within Hudson’s Bay.
“Opening in communities across the country, the brick-and-mortar locations will complement the first-ever Zellers.ca ecommerce site, ultimately bringing Zellers to nearly every community in Canada,” the company stated. “Customers will be greeted with a thoughtful selection of design-led products across home decor, toys, baby, apparel and pets, housed within Zellers’ signature red and white that will guide customers along in their retail journey.”
The 25 locations across Canada include nine here in Ontario:
- Erin Mills, Mississauga
- Burlington Mall, Burlington
- White Oaks Mall, London
- Scarborough Town Centre, Scarborough
- Pen Centre Shopping Plaza, St. Catharines
- Cambridge Centre, Cambridge
- Rideau Center, Ottawa
- St. Laurent Center, Ottawa
- Cataraqui Town Centre, Kingston
Something to note – my small-town Zellers will not likely return, as these cities and towns did not have a Hudson’s Bay, and I’m sure that will be the case for many who relied on the Canadian store for most of their goods many years ago. However, the Hudson’s Bay Company has launched zellers.ca, which the company said will be a full e-commerce store.
According to the release, at launch, the Zellers experience within Hudson’s Bay will be between 8,000 and 10,000 sq ft., depending on location. The Zellers in-store experience and Zellers.ca are planned to launch simultaneously, though the company did not provide a timeline.
I am definitely interested to see what will be available at Zellers, and I look forward to continuing to support Canadian brands. I never did quite get onto the Walmart bandwagon (and the last time I was there, there was no way to exit the store besides lining up for a cash register — we weren’t buying anything!)
The “throwback” idea of reopening Zellers does have a lot of nostalgic value, but I’m not sure having them inside the Hudson’s Bay is the best place to launch this new-old idea. The Bay has lofty (read: high-priced) products, and doesn’t seem quite right for the classic department store feel that I think Zellers is best known for. But then again, I’m also stuck on actually shopping, and not purchasing items online, so maybe I’m the “classic” in this scenario.
The branding for the Zellers return looks much as it did before. Heavy on the red, and simple so far. Take a look at their not-quite-launched website and let me know your thoughts about the return of this well-loved department store!