They did it again. Another national retailer has made a major decision without consulting me first. #Hudson’s Bay Company has decided to relinquish their flagship Queen Street store in Toronto to their newly-acquired #Saks. I would have thought that after #Cadillac Fairview’s weird decision to put a Florida-style drive-through retail “mall” at Don Mills Road and Lawrence Avenue they would have learned their lesson. When Don Mills Centre opened a couple of years ago, I thoughtfully wrote Cadillac Fairview Corporation to inform them of their folly and suggested they consult me on all future major decisions. I’m a shopping pro and have a life-time of expert on-the-job experience. Every time I go Don Mills Centre (twice to be precise) it’s been raining and I’ve had to dodge raindrops to get from store to store. And the stores, other than McEwen’s Foods are the same ubiquitous, boring mall haunts available a couple of miles up the road at Fairview Mall. At least Fairview is enclosed and has a subway stop. I’ve never ventured to Don Mills Centre in winter so I’ve been spared climbing snowbanks and stomping salty slush off my boots when I enter a store.
Now they’ve gone and done it again. But this time, I actually see the value in their strategy. The Hudson’s Bay Company has been throwing millions of dollars at refurbishing their Queen Street store at the expense of their Bloor and Yonge location which is tired, poorly organized and just plain cranky. My first reaction was surprise because of the above-mentioned investment in Queen Street (does anyone remember the Creed’s fiasco?). Then I thought – a Saks location just one block away from major competitor Holt-Renfrew is just plain vulgar. The Queen Street location is handier to Bay Street office towers and all those insider-trading dollars and service-charge wealthy bankers, not to mention all the tourists who come to Toronto for the $1,000.00/seat Leafs’ games. They can just take the “PATH” to Saks on Queen Street without getting salt stains on their Manolo Blanik’s.
But this is all rather anti-climactic compared to Nordstrom, my most favourite shopping destination coming to town. In only two years I’ll have my very own Nordstrom store at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke. I understand they’re also locating in Yorkdale but that place is such a zoo I avoid it like carbs after Christmas. If the parking constraints at Yorkdale and the constant crush of shopping bodies doesn’t get you, the traffic on adjoining Highway 401 when you’re trying to escape will. Nordstrom is not quite as high-end as Saks and they have a more interesting mix of merchandise than Hudson’s Bay Company, with better store layouts. And they actually carry great fashions not designed for prepubescent anorexics. One of my major complaints with Hudson’s Bay (which I’ve also considerately written to the President of the company about) is their lack of sales personnel to assist shoppers. Nordstrom has friendly staff in adequate numbers to service us promptly and considerately. Instead of having an over-worked snarky sales clerk toss a plastic bag across the counter at you in a Hudson’s Bay store, the Nordstrom sales associates kindly walk around the counter and personally place a lovely silver Nordstrom shopping bag in your eager little hand. And if they don’t have the size or colour you want, they actually offer to source it at another store and have it delivered to your home, free of charge if you have an account! Holy smokes! No wonder I love them. And their ladies’ washrooms are far superior to those at Hudson’s Bay Company, but then everyone’s are better than the Hudson’s Bay loo’s.
Shopping is a life skill I’ve acquired through a lot of hard work and years of dedication. I love strolling through a store, touching and feeling the merchandise, casting judgements on its fashionability and quality and rejoicing when I score a major bargain. My Boomer Broad friends and I have a finely-tuned system for retail reconnaissance. Shopping with a buddy is verboten – a waste of time and talent. We split up, spread out and each pursue our own shopping agenda. Then we meet for lunch over a glass of wine, have a preview show and tell, then disperse for more shopping. We spend the first few hours visually scoping things out, then at the end of the day after reviewing all that we’ve seen, return to the stores and items we’ve decided to purchase just before we leave. That minimizes mistakes and returns.
I’ll forgive Hudson’s Bay for not consulting me this time but if they don’t start listening to my advice, they’re headed for trouble. My Boomer Broad posse and I are a pretty significant demographic and because we’re at an age where our estrogen tanks are a bit low, we have the ability to bring down entire market sectors. Just look at what happened to “New Coke”. If retailers continue to ignore us – well, let’s just say we warned you.