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Zellers Store-in-Store Launches inside of Hudson’s Bay Location [Photos]

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Hudson’s Bay recently launched a Zellers pop-up shop-in-store at its Burlington Centre location near Toronto, and more Zellers pop-ups could follow according to the retailer. 

The Burlington Zellers pop-up is a “fun and nostalgic experience with one of HBC’s most beloved brands,” according to Hudson’s Bay which still owns the rights to the name of the Zellers chain which once had a network of stores across the country. 

The Zellers pop-up at Burlington Centre features a range of products including Canada-themed apparel and home goods. Red floor tape indicates the boundaries of the Zellers space located on the second floor of the Hudson’s Bay store. 

Not present is Zellers mascot Zeddy which for years was part of the retailer’s marketing. In 2012 Zeddy was ‘adopted’ by Camp Trillium after fans voted in Zellers’ final facebook campaign EVERYTHING MUST GO!, marking an end to almost three decades with his Zellers family.

Zellers at Hudson's Bay Burlington Mall
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Centre- Photo by Sean Tarry

More Zellers pop-ups could open inside of Hudson’s Bay stores according to a Hudson’s Bay Company spokesperson, though no further details are available at this time.  

At its peak in the 1990s, Zellers had over 350 stores in Canada — the entry of Walmart into Canada impacted Zellers’ sales particularly in the early 2000s which resulted in the retailer losing significant market share. In January of 2011, the Hudson’s Bay Company announced that it would sell the leases for up to 220 Zellers store to Minneapolis-based Target for $1.825 billion dollars. HBC retained 64 locations initially and liquidated the chain in early 2013. 

The Hudson’s Bay Company operated three Zellers stores in Ontario until early 2020, and those locations acted more as clearance centres for products from Hudson’s Bay store. Zellers as Canadians knew it shut down in March of 2013 after the Hudson’s Bay Company divested most of the store leases to Target which was entering the Canadian market. Target operated in Canada until early 2015 when it exited Canada after seeing significant losses and operating challenges. 

In the 1980’s, Zellers’ marketing slogans included “Only you’ll know how little you paid” and “Shopping anywhere else is pointless”. In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s the popular “Where the lowest price is the law!” was used in Zellers advertising. Included were animated commercials featuring Batman and Robin with the villains like the Joker, the Penguin, Catwoman and the Riddler.

In the 1990’s, Zellers adopted the slogan “Truly Canadian”. Between 1997 and 2000, “Better and Better” was a slogan and “Everything from A to Z” was part of the retailer’s marketing messaging between 2000 and 2013. 

Value-priced Zellers was founded by Walter P. Zeller in London, Ontario, in 1931. The Hudson’s Bay Company acquired Zellers in 1978. The Zellers logo, visible on the last two remaining stores, was adopted in 1975. In 1976, Zellers thrived with sales in excess of $400 million annually and in the same year, Zellers acquired discount chain Fields. Joseph Segal, who at the time was president of Fields, was appointed president of Zellers as part of the transaction. 

In 2008, the Hudson’s Bay Company and its subsidiaries, including Zellers, came under the ownership of NRDC Equity Partners, which was headed by Richard Baker. Hudson’s Bay’s namesake stores were positioned as more upscale under the creative direction of retail veteran Bonnie Brooks, while Zellers was seen as a drag on the business. 

Additional Photos from the Zellers at Hudson’s Bay in Burlington Centre:

Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Centre
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Centre
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry
Zellers at Hudson’s Bay Burlington Mall – Photo by Sean Tarry

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider and President/CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton, and consultant to the Retail Council of Canada. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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57 COMMENTS

  1. I get that money may be tight with HBC, but not doing something with an iconic brand such as this seems like a lost opportunity. Given that Sears gave up the fight, I always envisioned Zellers refocusing and becoming something a Canadian mid-market equivalent to Kohl’s.

  2. The Bay is in big trouble, that’s really what the Sellers pop-up is all about to attract customers because if you go to a few stores like I have, there is more workers than buyers.

    • Don’t know what store or stores you go to, in the Toronto GTA, hard to find a staff member or even pay to check out. Frustrating experience shopping at the Bay, it is only a matter of time. Baker will divest all the real estate over the next 5 years, that is a promise! In the meantime, Zellers could occupy some of the huge square footage, that is being wasted in many of their stores across Canada and should be able to produce sales results.

  3. Interesting!

    With regards to Camp Trillium / Camp Ooch adopting Zeddy, from their website, social media, it looks like he hasn’t appeared once since the event. Perhaps they’d adopt him back, for a donation?

  4. The basic idea isn’t bad. Hudson Bay stores have expensive leases and too much room, making parts of them become Zellers could work.

    However, the Zellers I see in these images has no focus, no purpose. Looks like they just moved their Canada-logo merch in there, along with a few housewares and toys, all at full price. Even the Zellers signs look sad. I don’t see how this is an alternative to the Walmarts and Amazons of this world.

    Zellers was more than a logo with red paint on the walls!

    • Spot on! Misrepresentation and total waste of time–glad I live nearby and didn’t drive far to go! Only thing Zellers was the lettering on the walls.

  5. Miss Zellers, was my favorite go too store, never was a fan of Wal Mart. Still have my Zeddy bear, which I will always treasure. They had great clothes there that were well made, compared to the junk that Wal Mart sells which fall apart after a few washes. They should open small stores nationwide, like the old Hudsons Bay model, which were the lifeblood of many small towns. Would be a shopper there, that’s for sure.

  6. what you should do is offer the zellers chain as a franchise operation. similar to canadian tire or giant tiger. I would jump all over this opportunity as i still believe there is value and opportunity in the zellers brand

  7. I worked at Zellers and I think the Target transition and failure was a ruse used for Walmart’s gain. Zellers was a good place to work at the time compared to what it’s like to work at other places including Walmart. I think that this attempt to bring back Zellers is to prop up HBC’s failing business but is too little too late. They never should have sold out in the first place.

  8. From the photos, it looks like the existing Hudson’s Bay product selection. What a disappointment! It should contain entry level home goods at price points which are lower than today, possibly ending in $X.95 or $X.98 to differentiate it ftom the rest of thr store. The Zellers area should also contain proactively ad-matched toys.

  9. I loved the Cherokee, Sentiment and Point Zero brands, still have clothes of those brands. Kids clothes were also good quality. I miss Zellers a lot. Please bring it back!! It is a good starting point having mini Zellers in the Bay but I completely agree with Topher in R1C, price point is the key.

    • It is really a good move to see Zellers back. It is a Canadian store and needs our support. I wish if we see Zeller stores back in our neighborhood and beat Walmart stores. Zeller stores should have a new strategy in order to move forward and beat other stores like Walmart. The strategy is very simple and basic just accept reasonable margin of profits in order to progress fast. You have the support of all Canadians in your side unlike Walmart stores. There is no other secrets. Welcomes back ZELLERS..We love youuuuuu.

  10. I think it’s a great idea, maybe it can be stepping stone to bringing back the store. Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia.

  11. God I miss the Zellers store in Bridgewater, N.S. Canada. I would love to see one located in our town 20 minutes outside of Bridgewater… to Liverpool, N.S. Please, Please bring back our Zellers. Totally not a Walmart lover.

  12. I too think there is still opportunity for the Zellers brand to exist, just not to the extent of its previous life. If anything, it would be a total refresh. As a previous commenter noted, the Kohls model could work.

    Sears is gone. Walmart has little competition. Many smaller centres throughout Canada don’t have that middle ground retailer between Hudson’s Bay and Zellers that once existed.

  13. As others have noted, the product assortment looks like what HBC used to sell before they tried moving upscale. I think a Zellers section within HBC might make me visit those stores more often, especially if they brought back the Cherokee and Hunt Club apparel lines and some of the other Zellers brand names. There may well be a niche just above Walmart levels of price and quality that could be exploited.

  14. I loved Zellers and the Carrol Reed and Cherokee brands that Zellers carried. They were awesome products and I miss them very much. I hope to see Zellers make a big comeback.

  15. BOY OH BOY I LOVED ZELLERS,I EVEN SOLD THEM SOME CLOTHING. GREAT COMPANY AND STORES. I REALLY HOPE ONE POPS UP IN MONTREAL, I CERTAINLY WILL GO THERE AND BUY LOTS OF THINGS

  16. Zellers. Where r u. Not high prices but good quality goods. Personally felt the stores got HBC goods from previous year. Linen dept particularly superior to Walmart’s. Excellent store for middle market buyers. No other stores fill this void. It’s closing left small cities like mine no alternative to WalMart. Disastrous.

  17. Really miss the department stores that carry a wide variety of quality products. Was a great fan of Zellers. My daughter worked there. Much missed. Sears as well. Shopping is much more difficult without these stores.

  18. I don’t know who the customer is they are targeting with this mess. It wreaks of “how are we going to fill this empty space with a zero budget”. The recycled fixtures, stained brown carpet, Zellers banner (really a banner !!) and brutal merchandising answers the question. This isn’t even a bad Walmart knock off. What is going at the Bay these days resurrecting old house brands is usually a sign of the end. Anyone remember Eatons the similarities are scary. This effort is nothing more than a poorly done clearance corner with some white paint as the budget.

  19. Zellers in Bathurst New Brunswick was the best store ever good stuff and good prices just love it there and I wish it would come back

  20. Loved Zellers because of the quality of the merchandise, great prices and it was a Canadian store. Walmart is American based. I would drive to Dartmouth if one was there but why not have one in smaller places like NewGlasgow or Antigonish. We need competition and choice.

  21. So those “marketing idiots” finally realized who their customers are – middle class people who don’t want overpriced high end designer
    crap. Too late Yahoos! We’ve moved on.

  22. I miss Zellers as I was employed with them for almost 13 years and just had an amazing experience working there and meeting all kinds of people, customers even the loyal customers that came in to have breakfast every morning to gather and socialize with friends they have made along the way. I worked with some pretty good people and had so much fun . It saddened me dearly to leave when it closed down for good. My heart just sank. To be honest it was traumatic for me.
    I do hope over time that Zellers comes back all Canadian and owned proudly by Canadians.

  23. As noted by others I think this is a great idea but sloppily and poorly executed. You would think with relaunching an iconic Canadian brand there would be excitement or a compelling draw. None of the merchandise in the photos seems compelling or unique or (at least to me) relates back to Zellers (The cheap looking Canada clothing looks more INC Clothiers/Fairweather). HBC should use the Zellers banner like Macy’s uses “Backstage”; off price items and categories not available and/or unique to a Bay store that would be convenient and drive traffic.

  24. I didn’t like Zeller’s. The product quality wasn’t so good. How is there savings when the merchandise, like the clothing, and shoes don’t last very long, and you have to buy it again, in a few months?

  25. I really MISS Zellers.
    PLEASE, PLEASE, bring Zellers back. I can’t stand Walmart! and don’t shop there. It’s the ONLY department store in our city. I sure hope Zellers comes back to Kingston Ontario.

  26. I loved Zellers – moved to Brampton in 1975 and my go to store for my three children was Zellers, Eatons, and Simpson… now know as Hudson Bay. The quality was great and the kids loved the clothes. Also, they had a little restaurant inside Zellers, my children loved going for a burger after shopping. My children are all grown now and every once in a while we reminisce back when we used to go there for the big “Z” burger and the fries!! We miss that it’s not the same with Walmart or even McDonald’s inside Walmart, back then the restaurant in Zellers felt like a 50’s diner, cosy, loved it, bring Zellers back and the little restaurant inside!!!

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