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.
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, discount chain Fields acquired the Zellers chain. Joseph Segal, who at the time was president of Fields, became 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.
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