Down by the Bay, where the retail experiments grow . . .
More than a decade after the Canadian retail institution put a Target on its back and shuttered or sold 189 stores, Zellers is back on the shelf.
The department store known for big bargains and long lines is set to open a pop-up store at Coquitlam Centre by Sept. 22 at the latest.
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The Coquitlam Centre location is part of a broader business strategy of appealing to Canadians’ nostalgia by opening up temporary Zellers shops in 78 Hudson’s Bay locations across Canada.
The pop-up stores are a way to “explore and test” Zellers in new markets while Hudson’s Bay finalizes its expansion strategy, stated company president Sophia Hwang-Judiesch in a press release.
Speaking to Report on Business magazine, Hwang-Judiesch said winning over young Canadians was a priority.
With the rise in online shopping resulting in rough sledding for traditional department stores, companies like The Bay need to find innovative ways to drive business.
Speaking to CBC earlier this year, Toronto Metropolitan University retail management instructor Joseph Aversa explained the importance of utilizing The Bay’s substantial square footage.
“[They’re saying] in most of our stores, we have too much real estate for what we sell,” Aversa said.
The pop-ups are generally slated to take up about one-fifth of The Bay’s floor space, with a minimum of 1,000 square feet and a maximum if 2,800 sq. ft.
While other pop-ups have drawn customers, some observers remain skeptical.
“I’m not convinced nostalgia is a business. I think it’s a good PR campaign,” Bruce Winder, a retail analyst and former Zellers merchandise manager told the Financial Post. “People are going to go there to check it out, but once they’re done checking it out, are they going to come back? That’s the million dollar question.”
The new stores won’t include 1950s-style diners. However, other pop-ups have outfitted a food truck with the old Zellers diner menu.