Zellers’ name and logo hang from the rafters of the top floor of the Burlington Center Bay store, tucked away in a corner near the toy section just past a broken escalator. It’s not a stand-alone, complete Zeller in the style of decades past. It is a pop-up store inside an existing store rather than a full outlet of the discount department store which had hundreds of locations across Canada until the early 2000s.
Zellers pop-up only had a few items to sell when visited by CBC Radio Cost of life end of September.
There were less than 20 adult garments, most of them labeled “Canada” with red and white styles. There was a small selection of wine glasses, pillows and linens, and several toys up for grabs.
It was a far cry from the huge selection of a big discount store like Walmart or Giant Tiger.
Customers accustomed to the infamous “law of low prices” referred to in the Zellers ads in jingle form may have been surprised by the prices. The brand’s pop-up discount items were priced the same as nearby HBC stores, such as Sherway Gardens Hudson’s Bay in suburban Toronto.
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But while the lowest price was the law at Zellers in the past, the Hudson’s Bay Company said the purpose of this pop-up store was the emotional reaction of customers.
The new Zellers is “intended to delight our customers with a fun and nostalgic experience with one of HBC’s most beloved brands,” said Hudson’s Bay Company representative Tiffany Bourré in a statement sent. by email.
Quirks of the brand a few months before
The Zellers pop-up was launched several months after the Hudson’s Bay Company trademark on the Zellers logo and design was “delisted” or removed from the Canadian Trademarks database. federal government.
Trademark expert and lawyer Julie MacDonell said that means the record no longer exists in the Registrar of Trademarks.
“Therefore, you are not, from a registration perspective, a recognized owner of this brand element, this name, this logo, this tagline,” MacDonell said.
Government records show that the trademark office sent a renewal notice to HBC or its representatives for the trademark in December 2019. A few months later, on September 24, 2020, the trademark was ” canceled ”due to a“ failure to renew ”.
What happened next is not clear. Government records show that a new application to register Zellers’ name and logo was filed in April 2021 by a “Zellers Inc”. based in La Trinité-Des-Monts, Quebec.
The new application for ownership of the Zellers trademark does not appear to be affiliated with the Hudson’s Bay Company, despite the use of the name Zellers Inc.
In an emailed statement to CBC Radio, HBC confirmed that it had nothing to do with the Quebec company and that it remained the owner of all registered and unregistered rights to the Zellers brand.
The Hudson’s Bay Company filed a new trademark application for Zellers on June 30, 2021.
“HBC investigates the unauthorized use or attempted use of any Zellers trademark and is prepared to take decisive action to avoid any confusion among consumers about our Zellers brand,” wrote Bourré of HBC. .
Cost of life was unable to contact the new Zellers trademark registrant at the address in question. The phone numbers associated with the address rang as out of service.
Another application for the rights to the name “Kmart” is also pending for a Kmart Canada Limited, based at the same address. Kmart Canada was purchased by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the late 1990s, and most stores converted to The Bay or Zellers at the time.
Trademark attorney MacDonell speculated that a new company might try to take over what it perceives to be a logo or abandoned brand, but she warned that this probably wouldn’t be a winning strategy.
“It’s a brand that had a substantial reputation, substantial profits associated with it and it just doesn’t work that you can go grab it and start a new business with it,” MacDonell said.
The new application for HBC and unaffiliated “Zellers Inc.” trademark registration applications are pending and have not yet been assigned to government reviewers.
When it comes to the in-store experience itself, the nostalgia HBC sought was felt by longtime Burlington resident N’gaire Lynn – at first.
She couldn’t hide the excitement in her Scottish brogue saying on CBC radio Cost of life she phoned nearly half a dozen of her friends about the return of her favorite department store.
It’s not Zellers. This is a used part of The Bay. Sorry. Won’t wash with me.– N’gaire Lynn
“Guys, Zellers is back! ” she said. “They told me, I guess you go in the morning. Oh, I’m gonna go. “
Lynn was less excited once she got to the Zellers.
LISTEN | Hear from buyers of the Zellers pop-up store:
“It’s not Zellers. This is a used part from La Baie. Sorry. I’m not going to wash my hair with me, ”she said, browsing mini food processors priced at $ 69.99 and plaid shirts priced over $ 50.
Nostalgia – and a potential marketing test
According to retail experts, HBC could test whether Zellers still has weight as a brand.
Janice Rudkowski, assistant professor at the Ted Rogers School of Retail Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, researched ephemeral retail and hypothesized that HBC could use the centre’s retail experience. Burlington Center shopping to research what will follow.
“Maybe this will give them some insight into the investment they want to invest in the Zellers brand in the future,” said Rudkowski, who added that the company can collect information and data while running. of the pop-up window. The company said future Zellers stores could be introduced in other locations.
Rudkowski also pointed out that Zellers still resonates with Canadians as a brand, so capitalizing on the nostalgia might be in order, if not Club Z points.
“I’m sure a lot of people think back to their own childhood and remember Zellers as being a very important part of that childhood, so it appeals to nostalgia, and it’s pretty powerful,” Rudkowski said.
“Many memories come back”
Customers strolling the Zellers section of the bay in Burlington clearly described their feeling of nostalgia when they saw the familiar logo on the walls.
“You just see the name and it pops up and a lot of memories come back,” said Jennifer Morris, who was shopping with Katie Bennink late on a Tuesday morning.
Both buyers said they were unlikely to return just because of those Zellers panels.
“It looks like the bay with Zellers panels,” Bennink said.
to listen Cost of life on CBC Radio One Sundays at 12 p.m. (12:30 p.m. NT) or download the podcast every Friday night.