The landscape of local retail shopping changes for good after today as Zellers in Owen Sound and Hanover close their doors.
“It's too bad,” said shopper Carol VanLeeuwen of Hanover, who was shopping Wednesday at the Owen Sound store. “But it is a cycle, because in my day and age, this sort of store overtook smaller stores, and now this is being overtaken by bigger stores. So I think it's just the way things go.”
VanLeeuwen has bought most of her clothes from Zellers over the years, and now she's not sure where she'll shop.
“I like a good deal, and for smaller stores, it's hard for them to give good deals,” she said. “But it would be nice if things went back that way to smaller stores.”
There were plenty of deals to be had Wednesday in Owen Sound, as the store sought to liquidate all its merchandise. Both Grey County locations close for good Thursday evening.
Tide laundry detergent was marked down to $3.59 from $8.99. Cases of Nestle water were selling for $1.79, marked down from $4.49. Clothing was marked at 80 to 90% off.
Stock, however, was diminishing quickly. Large sections of the store were completely empty, even of shelves. Some clothing and other products remained, but many shelves sat bare.
Sherry Hayes of Hepworth, and her friend Connie Vincent of Owen Sound had their carts piled to the brim, mostly with clothing.
“We don't buy anything that's not on sale,” Vincent said, adding they'd visited the store three times over the past week, looking for deals.
Hayes found a men's Ralph Lauren Polo shirt for $6 – it had a regular price on it of $89. She also found a pair of men's pants for $11 that just last week was $20. They said they'll put some of the stuff away for next Christmas.
Both women said they weren't sure where they'd move their shopping dollars to, saying they weren't fans of Wal Mart. They said they'll miss the old Zellers.
“I think Wal Mart needs some competition in town for sure,” Hayes said. “Another store's going to be empty now. Another building, right? The one on the other side is still empty from when Zellers was there.”
The pair said they wouldn't be back Thursday to check out any final deals.
“I think we'll say goodbye today,” Hayes said.
Of the 220 Zellers leaseholds originally purchased in 2011, Target kept 189. It transferred 45 of the 189 to other retailers, including 39 to Walmart. In July, HBC announced that it would be closing its remaining 85 stores.
There were 273 Zellers locations in Canada before the deals were made, each location employing between 100 and 150 people.