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It’s a Zellers market: St. John’s shoppers hope to see the return of the defunct discount chain

Zellers is preparing to resurface as an e-commerce website with possible physical stores in 2023, a decade after the last store closed. (Anis Heydari/CBC)

The potential resurrection of Zellers in Canada has Newfoundland shoppers talking and hoping that, to quote the former retail giant’s longtime slogan, lowest prices will remain the law.

Hudson’s Bay Company announced Wednesday that the brand will return as an e-commerce website and expand its physical footprint next year, a decade after the last stores closed. HBC did not specify where the physical stores would be located.

The last Zellers store in Newfoundland and Labrador, on Stavanger Drive in St. John’s, closed in 2012. Shoppers who spoke to CBC News on Friday certainly want to see it back.

“I think it’s a good idea. Honestly, you can’t get enough low-cost retail stores,” said Aiden Langer in downtown St. John’s. “I know a couple of Walmarts have recently closed in the city.…I know they don’t come here as a physical location, but yeah, that’s fine. Can’t get enough Zellers.”

Misty Misener remembers trips to Zellers as part of her childhood in Nova Scotia, especially trips to the in-store restaurant after a long day of bargain hunting.

WATCH: CBC’s Sarah Antle talks with buyers about potential Zellers comeback:

Zellers fans in St. John’s are ready to see the discount giant’s return

Zellers stores could return to Canada next year, and shoppers in Newfoundland and Labrador are hoping deals will come to that province. Reporting by CBC’s Sarah Antle.

“It felt like a full day. So I think it’s a good friendly vibe,” she said.

The nostalgic aspect of Zellers’ return will be key to the brand’s quick comeback success, according to Tom Cooper, a business professor at Memorial University, who says Zellers could have a real shot at disrupting big-box department stores. if he plays his cards right.

“If you’re the Hudson’s Bay Company, struggling in this kind of retail business [market]”, Cooper said, “and closed stores and brick and mortar stores, there may be an opportunity to go online, create this brand, create this nostalgia, create this demand and see How’s it going. “

A man stands in the lobby of the CBC building with a smile on his face.
Tom Cooper, a business professor at Memorial University in St. John’s, says Zellers has the potential to disrupt the local market if it can find a niche. (Jonny Hodder/CBC)

“I don’t know how you replicate the smell of fries and hot turkey sandwiches walking through their cafes…but you can kind of appeal and say, ‘Look, there’s opportunity.

The fact that Newfoundland and Labrador does not have a Hudson’s Bay store, Cooper said, could be a reason for the company to establish a physical Zellers store in the province.

Shoppers could also view the store as a pop-up location, as has been the case in other provinces over the past few months.

Learn more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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