I opened a Facebook page called ‘Save our Amherst, N.S. Zellers’! and I meant it.
You would think living in a small rural area would save us from the constantly changing landscape of retail take overs but, in fact, it makes us all the more vulnerable to it.
There are two small towns near where we live and unless we want to drive for almost an hour to the shopping mecca, also known as Moncton, we need to be able to find presents and knick knacks at affordable prices nearby.
I remember when Sackville had an old Steadman’s, oh boy, those were the days! A small Five and Dime with a selection of stuff from soap to toys. All you need, not too big. Locally owned. It is gone now and I have been forced to go to Amherst, an odd town in neighboring Nova Scotia with lovely large houses reminiscent of a time when there must have been railway money, but now the town’s only draw is its malls on the outskirts of town and, two, count them, two Tim Horton’s. But at least I could still shop at our Canadian Zellers.
A confession, if I have to feed two kids and myself ,who is probably crashing during this shopping expedition, Tin Horton’s feeds three people with a shared muffin, bagel and cream cheese, tea and drinks for 10 bucks and you can’t beat that. No bad fries on offer.
Back to Amherst, It also used to have a Burger King, now no longer. My son called it “Booger Queen’ , much to my delight. We loved the Booger Queen. It had a play area, I had small children. It had veggie burgers and KD that the kids liked and made me feel that I was not offering my kids some meat from sad cows taking up land in South America. There were some nice folk that worked there who probably don’t have any jobs at all now.
So off I go to Amherst these days, sans Booger Queen, for a modest Christmas and food shop. Amherst has a little mall with about ten stores in it,which is just my style. Practically right out of the seventies. This tiny mall does not give me a headache and I don’t have to pile in and out of the car too many times.
It has a Zellers, a dollar store, an electronic shop, a strange store that sells clothing to old ladies, another store that sells overpriced furniture,(I think these two shops are telling me something about the section of the demographic that has extra money) a Sobey’s and a Tim Horton’s. Done.
It used to have a Blockbusters but that’s another story. Or, in fact, the same story. It is sad that small Canadian towns are so dependent on American mega businesses. I don’t like it. And we know that big corporations make big decisions about what is working and what makes ‘enough’ money, and that those decisions have nothing to do with us.
For example, all the stores that are closing or have closed in Amherst were actually making money. They made enough money. People had jobs, and they liked those jobs. For every person I have talked to about corporate franchises closing down their local stores, I have been told that their store did make money. Burger King was popular, and so was Block Busters.
In our little economy, if they had been owned by local independent business owners, it might have been enough. After all, we are not trying to get rich out here on the east coast, just pay modest mortgages and have enough money to celebrate Christmas with a bit of bling.
But for the corporate accountants who see the ‘big’ picture, these far off franchises are not making enough money to justify keeping them going.
What is the solution? To take control of our businesses practices from within our country.
We should be encouraging our own Canadian businesses, and backing them with our taxes, so that we are not vulnerable to every turn in the Amercian economy ( good luck with that, I realize).
And now they are taking away my Canadian Zeller’s! All the workers have been given their notice and the place will be finished soon. A large company bought it and it will not be replaced by Target or anything like it, most likely. It will just be gone like all the other stores.
And this is the thing, most people will say, just go to Walmart. But I do hate Walmart. It has a limited McDonald’s for snacks, reeking of saturated fats. And let me say again, I do hate Walmart.
It is in the less charming mall area, where there is only a Superstore and a Kents.
There’s lots of cheap stuff at Walmarts, and some stuff that is too expensive but I start to think everything is cheap and, somewhat brainwashed by the awful music, I start to make wierd shopping choices.
There is no indoor mall with people sitting around on benches, and no visiting Santa Claus. No nice old cafeteria in the middle of the store, mostly patronized by families or elderly couples out for the Tuesday dinner special.
And I will miss it. And Walmart will not replace it.
The restaurant in the Zellers reminds of the days when my Grandmother would take me to Eaton’s for a special shop. Of course, those days are long gone too.