Dear Canada: I miss you!

I just read a news blog concerning all of the retailers that are jumping ship, and running back to the USA.  In addition to those short sighted folks, there are the bankruptcies!  Between them, there will be gaping black holes in nearly every mall I’ve ever shopped in back home, in Ottawa.  Just look at all the opportunities that will present themselves as steals and deals for Walmart!

The depressing exodus was started by Hudson’s Bay, when they shut down Zellers.  Everyone knows that part of the responsibility for this definitely rests on Walmart’s fat shoulders, but was this fault one of antagonism, or consumer preference?  For some reason, consumers preferred shopping at Walmart to the smaller, less slickly Plan-o-grammed Zellers.  But why?  Did Zeddy (the teddy bear) somehow lack the charm of the smiley faced yellow dot?  In terms of advertising, the yellow dot was frequently seen dancing across TV screens, touting the saving that would be had at Walmart, with the well known “Roll backs”.

Come to think of it, were there ever TV ads for Zellers, or have I lost the memories in the ethers?  If I can’t remember them, I suspect it was because they never existed.  Printed media ads, yes, but I don’t recall TV ads.  Could that be part of the reason that caused them to lose their customer presence, what little they had?

When Zellers’ demise was announced, Walmart said that they would be interested in ‘selected’ locations.  Next, enter Target.  Their timing was a significant part of why they were not warmly embraced by Canadian shoppers.  They arrived too close to the protracted death of Zellers, thereby getting tarred with the mud of this demise.  People often seemed to blame Target for Zellers disappearance, thinking that the one ‘pushed’ the other out.  Now, less than two years after they arrived, Target is preparing to leave!  In reality, Target had been watching for a while, and saw the closure of the Zeller’s stores as an opportunity to break into the Canadian market.

Holt Renfrew had only recently opened a store in Ottawa’s prestigious Rideau Center.  Well, that didn’t last long!  They have decided to cut their losses, and put their money into expanding their stores in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton.  Poor Ottawa, capital of the country, being treated like the poor country cousins!

Bankruptcy claimed several smaller chains, like Mexx, Jacob and Smart Set.  Reitmans owns Smart Set, and hastened to assure consumers that SS was the ONLY one of their chains that was closing.

When I think back to the malls I used to frequent, I can picture the holes that will be left, and I cringe.  Closures mean job cuts, and loss of selection for consumers.


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