I’ve always liked Zellers. In Burlington, we lived just a stone’s throw from a big, clean, modern and bright Zellers that contained a charming little diner where friendly ladies served up a fast and delicious breakfast on weekends.
It’s a discount department store in true Canadian style; unpretentious and modest. Like its fancier sisters The Bay and Home Outfitters, Zellers offers Club Z points and there are few things I like better than accumulating points that turn into free stuff. But here in London Zellers is being eaten alive by Walmart.
My closest Zellers used to open at 8 am on Saturdays, perfect for this early riser. In response, the nearest Walmart started swinging open its doors at 7 am. I have actually been to Walmart that early on a sleepless Saturday morning and it is as busy then as I have ever seen my local Zellers. I recently purchased a couple of Umbra curtain rods at Zellers and when I got home I realized I bought the wrong lengths. By then it was Saturday afternoon and prime shopping-and-rugrat-towing time. Had it been Walmart, I never would have considered returning the rods but because it was Zellers, I knew it wouldn’t be a big deal. And it wasn’t. In mid-afternoon I strolled right up to customer service and conducted the ol’ switcheroo in just a few minutes. It made me a bit sad because this store is really trying to hang on, offering bonus Club Z points for early shoppers and all sorts of bulk deals and offers But now it opens at 9 am on Saturdays which means all of the retirees who are knocking around their homes and in need of lightbulbs or toilet paper either have to wait or will choose Walmart instead.
I’m really fond of Zellers and when I need that kind of a store I do my best to go there because it is Canadian. Before we went to Las Vegas I got a stupidly great deal there on a simple holiday dress with sequins and sparkles that I will probably only wear that one time. Canned food is less expensive than in grocery stores and other stuff, like laundry detergent and even towels, is priced competitively. They carry Alfred Sung home items which are fun to peruse. But Walmart is kicking their butts around the block. I can’t help but wonder how long they can go on like this with a half-empty parking lot while their American rival is packed to the rafters and adding new features like a grocery section with fresh produce. Zellers needs an image boost and fast.