The Calendar Club has evolved over the years to selling more than just calendars and now the retailer is embarking on ambitious plans to become more than just a pop-up business with its eyes set on launching permanent store locations.
The company was founded in 1993 with its first store in Lyden Park Mall in Brantford, Ontario and its head office in Paris, Ontario.
Calendar Club Canada, founded by the Edgar family, is the largest provider of calendars and puzzles but is also an industry leader in games and toys. The company has over 200 locations.
It is recognized as the largest seasonal retailer in Canada but the plan is to open up year-round stores next year in targeted markets across the country.
Dave Patterson, Chief Operating Officer at Calendar Club of Canada, said it’s been about 20 years that the company has been selling items beyond calendars and one of its initiatives has reached thousands, perhaps millions of people.
“We have stuffed animals. Our bear program has been one of those hidden secrets. We’ve helped communities across Canada donate millions of bears to charities. We do on average 100,000 plus bears a year. It’s pretty powerful.
“I’ve been with the company for three years and have travelled the country many times and have met many customers that have said ‘my son that was in sick kids’ hospital actually got a bear from you’. It’s a big thing that most people don’t realize. It’s basically a gift with purchase. The customer can choose to buy a bear and have us donate it to their cause or they can take it and donate it themselves. With the amount of years we’ve been doing it, there has been well over a million bears donated from this little company out of Paris, Ontario.”
Today, the company’s business is in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the Netherlands.
“We don’t own the global business. We are a group. Calendar Club Canada opened with pop-up kiosks with only calendars. And they took off,” said Patterson.
“Our history started in malls, before heading to Sears and The Bay. We did licensee deals. But right now, the majority of our stores are mall-based. We’ve tested a couple of power centres in the past, but it’s typically malls where we are located.”
“The plans are really to look at having year-round partnered stores. We have an agreement with Hickory Farms and then do our pop-up stores. In the future we are going to do events with pop-ups. It’s quite a growth strategy actually.”
The company has been one channel since its inception – a pop-up seasonal retailer – and it has been very successful in that regard.
But Patterson said the company has never really focused on ‘proper’ retail, which is the whole retail experience.
“Proper retail has five channels – ecommerce, events, year-round stores, a partnered marketplace and pop-ups. Our company has only really focused on the one channel. Now with the introduction of digital and with the added COVID pandemic, we have that second channel. So we’re growing our digital channel, which is growing quite well,” he said.
“Our pop-up stores have done really well. But we’re looking at a year-round store program in the right markets. There is a want and a need. We just want to get out there and show our customers that Calendar Club Canada is more than just a seasonal pop-up.
“We’re going to start small, with just opening up in a dozen or so strategically placed markets across Canada. We are going to make sure we have a representation nationally. There’s very strategic, targeted growth initiatives over the next few years and we’re very excited about them.”
The pop-up Calendar Club stores typically open for the back to school shopping season through to the end of January.