My Childhood Memories Are Calling

Zellers Is Back

Graphic by Panos Michalakopoulos

Zellers was a big part of my childhood, which is why I’m so excited that Hudson’s Bay Canada will reopen some of its stores.

I remember being a kid and thinking that Zellers had to be the coolest store ever. I’d go there every Friday after school with my sister and my cousin. We’d always enjoy ourselves while browsing around.

I remember trying different bikes; we’d ride around the store and the employees never seemed to mind. I remember the sweets section. I always got excited over candy, especially the newest flavours. Zellers had the best of the best and for a discounted price. 

As someone who has always loved entertainment, my favourite Zellers aisle was always the CDs and DVDs section. I’d hurry to that section every week to browse the newest releases. I still listen to my Avril Lavigne and Black Eyed Peas CDs from those days and watch my Mean Girls and Freaky Friday DVDs on occasion.

Whether it was 1st generation immigrant families or those on a budget, many appreciated Zellers for its affordability. It was also a haven for children of immigrants. 

Zellers was ideal for my sibling and cousin—we were children who didn’t properly understand the value of money. I had a piggy bank growing up and whenever I had enough saved, I’d spend it there.

This store is attached to a lot of good memories for me. Although my cousin and I often got into silly arguments, I don’t remember us ever being upset in the store. It was as though Zellers excited us enough to forget the little problems that stood in our way. This store brought a little bit of magic to our days, even when at home. 

We’d receive weekly flyers in the mail. Coupons made it easy to forget about the stress of finances. We’d search for anything that excited us and we used them whenever we earned a gift for a good grade in school.

Zellers was one of my very first experiences in a department store. As an adult, I came to appreciate department stores for their convenience. As a child, these stores were a site like heaven. I could easily find something to get excited about, no matter which aisle was going to be next. I could even get lost but never afraid because I was deep into my excitement for watermelon candy, whichever Lindsay Lohan movie was coming out, and more. Whether it was school supplies, clothes, or whatever else, Zellers seemed to have it all. It provided my family everything we needed during arduous financial times. 

2023 isn’t my first time living in a recession. I remember being in my early teenage years. It was the late 2000s. I was in high school. My father was the only financial provider in my immediate family. It was scary to live on just one income. The recession was a subject of conversation for many people, including my family. I remember not fully understanding the seriousness of it at first: all I knew was that I was worried. 

I remember seeing the increase in prices and feeling anxious. The recession was a common topic at dinners with my extended family. I often heard my relatives talk about the importance of work and how hard it was to make a living. My extended relatives were more financially secure than my immediate family; seeing my dad worried made me realize that things were harder for my family.

Zellers always brought comfort in terms of affordability. Today is not that different. Nowadays, everything costs more than it did a mere year ago, which makes now a great time to reopen Zellers stores. I hope the new stores that are reopening will replicate the affordable pricing I knew them for.

Although I’m an adult now, I’m still excited about Zellers. I think I’ll appreciate it more now, not only because the stores permanently closed in Canada years ago, but because I have a better understanding of the value of money. 

Zellers was the ideal store for anyone regardless of their age and budget. I hope it returns to helping many families and exciting many more children like it did for my cousin as well as my sister and me.


This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 12, published February 21, 2023.