Category Archives: Department Stores & Big Boxes

Paul Hewitt anchors itself in Canada

European accessories brand Paul Hewitt has secured a bigger presence in the Canadian retail marketplace through a new partnership with Hudson’s Bay Co.

Paul Hewitt, which specializes in nautical-themed watches and bracelets for both men and women, will now offer its products through the

PH - Phreps Bracelett

Paul Hewitt Phreps Bracelet, US$59.90.

The accessories brand first arrived in Canada approximately a year ago, with distribution through a variety of small watch and jewellery retailers. The new partnership with one of Canada’s most prominent retailers is set to boost the brand’s visibility and sales considerably in the Canadian market.

PH Signature Line Watch

Paul Hewitt Sailor Line Watch, US$199.00.


Paul Hewitt was founded in Northern Germany in 2009, and the brand aims to reflect that region’s maritime flair through its styles. The company strives to produce timeless pieces that are handmade with high quality materials.

PH North Bound Bracelet

Paul Hewitt North Bound Bracelet, US$69.90.

The accessories boast simple, minimalist designs, with a variety of colour and material options that allow shoppers to customize items to their individual tastes – a feature that has made the brand popular among millennial consumers.


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Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes, Fashion, Retail & the Web

An expanded retail footprint for essence

European makeup brand essence has gained more shelf space in the Canadian retail market, thanks to a recent mega retail merger.

essence, which is owned by German cosmetics company Cosnova GmbH, is known for fun and affordable makeup products, with an average retail price of just $3.69.

essence 2

The brand made its Canadian debut in 2012, under an exclusive distribution partnership with Shoppers Drug Mart. With the 2014 acquisition of Shoppers having brought the drug store chain under the ownership of Loblaw Companies Ltd., essence has now gained a massive new distribution network.

In addition to its presence within Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharmaprix stores, essence is gaining real estate this spring within certain Loblaws grocery stores.

essence 3

Under the new distribution arrangement, designated Loblaws stores will carry twice as many essence products compared with the amount of essence merchandise available at Shoppers Drug Mart. Loblaws stores will also carry certain exclusive essence products that are not available anywhere else in the Canadian market.

The essence brand seems a good fit for Loblaws, where its in-house fashion and cosmetics brand, Joe Fresh, shares a similar philosophy of trendy items for affordable prices.

essence 4

At a downtown Toronto event in late February, essence showcased its spring makeup collection, including certain Loblaws exclusives. The new collection features plenty of pastels and bright spring colours that are sure to attract shoppers as the products make their debut on the shelves of their new retail partner.

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Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes, Events

Bringing bargains closer to home

Outlet shoppers and bargain hunters, brace yourselves: you’ll soon be able to stay far closer to home when shopping your favourite brands.

In a few short months, a shiny new outlet mall will welcome to the GTA a variety of brands that have never before brought their outlet stores to Canada.

Toronto Premium Outlets is slated to open on Aug. 1st in Halton Hills, near Trafalgar Road and the 401.

An artistic rendering of the Toronto Premium Outlets.

An artistic rendering of the Toronto Premium Outlets.

Developed by Simon Property Group and Calloway Real Estate Investment Trust, the new retail hub represents the first Premium Outlet Center to open in Canada.

The upscale outlet mall concept has done well in U.S. markets and abroad, as Simon has continued to expand its roster of more than 300 malls.

Altogether, the mall will boast 85 upscale outlets, with at least eight representing outlet brands that are new to Canada. These include:

  • Cole Haan
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • DKNY
  • Icebreaker
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Polo Ralph Lauren
  • Restoration Hardware
  • Ted Baker London

With easier access to these and other brands, many Toronto-area shoppers may be taking fewer trips to the U.S. once the new shopping hub opens its doors. As a result, outlet malls south of the border may begin to see fewer Canadian shoppers browsing their offerings.

In particular, Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls – a popular destination among Canadians given its close proximity to the border – could see its traffic decline given that many of its retailers will now have Canadian locations.

Whether the merchandise offerings and prices are on par with the U.S. stores, however, remains to be seen.

Some of Toronto Premium Outlets’ other retailers include:

  • Banana Republic
  • Bench
  • Bose
  • Brooks Brothers
  • Coach
  • Dynamite
  • Eddie Bauer
  • Gap Outlet
  • Garage
  • Guess
  • J. Crew
  • Lucky Brand Jeans
  • Michael Kors
  • True Religion
  • Zumiez

In addition, the shopping centre will be anchored by the first ever Hudson’s Bay Outlet – something I’m personally curious to check out. Since The Bay has spent the past few years continuously improving the quality of merchandise it carries, an HBC outlet could be a good place to scoop up some high-end brands at affordable prices.


Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes, Sales & Deals, Shopping Hubs

Bed, bath and way, way beyond

When I heard that downtown Toronto was getting a Bed Bath & Beyond location, I imagined something considerably smaller than the giant big box stores in the suburbs of the GTA. Surely, I thought, there won’t be space for the dozens of aisles of duvet covers, kitchen utensils, vacuum cleaners, juicers and many, many other products spread out through the American home furnishing chain’s large stores.

The entrance to the store, inside the Aura tower.

But wow, was I wrong. It turns out the new store, located on Yonge Street near College, is actually 60% larger than most of the retailer’s stores.

The Bed Bath & Beyond store is located on the second floor of the new Aura condo tower at College Park, at 382 Yonge St. Even though the condo tower is still under construction – and will be for the foreseeable future – the base of the tower is complete, and so Bed Bath & Beyond has managed to open the new Canadian flagship store just in time for the holiday season.

Upon first glance, the store doesn’t seem too large, since only a small section is visible from the entranceway. But the vast scope of the store quickly becomes clear as you navigate the maze of sections, with no exit in sight.

The store carries essentially everything you could ever want for your home: cookware, kitchen tools, dinnerware, glassware, cleaning supplies, curtains, towels, bathroom accessories, light fixtures, wall décor, bedding, storage solutions, and much more. It’s also the first of the chain’s 33 Canadian locations to carry luggage – an item that’s generated strong sales in the company’s U.S. stores.

While the selection can be overwhemling, the store’s staff make it easy to navigate. During my first visit to the store, I must have been greeted by nearly a dozen friendly staff members scattered throughout the store to help customers find what they’re looking for.

Wedding and gift registries are big business for the retailer, and the new store makes it clear that the company is investing serious resources into this area. A large section of the store is devoted to this side of the business, and there are enough registry scanners for more than a dozen brides-to-be to simultaneously compile their registries. (Look out, The Bay – Bed Bath & Beyond looks poised to make major inroads in this area!)

The wedding and gift registry section in the new store.

With home furnishing retailers generally easier to find in the suburbs than the downtown core, I was thrilled to see one open its doors in an urban, subway-accessible location – and even more thrilled to see the exensive selection inside. It means condo-dwellers no longer have to venture outside of the city for a decent selection of household staples, and for the benefit of those of us without wheels, the store even offers same-day home delivery.

The store is now open, so next time you need a spatula, hand towel or blender, be sure to check it out!


Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes

Outdoor superstores ‘SAIL’ into the GTA

A Quebec-based retailer catering to outdoor enthusiasts has arrived in the GTA.

SAIL, a chain of superstores specializing in gear for hunting, camping, fishing, boating and other outdoor activities, recently opened stores in Vaughan and Oshawa.

The big box stores are 70,000 square feet in size, and carry an overwhelming selection of merchandise: more than 500,000 items per store. They feature such popular brands as The North Face, Spyder and Columbia.

If you’re into any sort of outdoor activities – such as hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing – or even if you just want to keep warm as the cold winter months descend upon us, chances are SAIL has something for you.

You can pick up basic items like shoes and jackets, or highly specific types of gear, like gun cases for hunters, compasses for hikers and butane stoves for campers.

Including the two new GTA locations, SAIL now has seven stores, with four in Quebec and one in Ottawa.

The Vaughan location presents new competition for nearby Bass Pro – a huge store at Vaughan Mills shopping centre offering a similar selection of hunting, fishing and camping goods.

Outdoor enthusiasts were thrilled to see the Bass Pro store open a few years ago, which was Ontario’s first location for the major American retailer.

I’m guessing they’ll be happy to have another local retailer providing these kinds of specialized goods, especially in Vaughan – which is conveniently right on the way to cottage country for Torontonians who are looking to escape the city for the weekend.

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An old hockey rink, a new retail hub

It’s a big week for Toronto’s retail scene, as one of the city’s landmarks makes its debut as a freshly made-over retail hub.

Maple Leaf Gardens, the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, finally re-opened its doors to the public this week as Loblaws put the finishing touches on the large new grocery store located in the former hockey arena. Hundreds of people lined up to see the new supermarket, and it got rave reviews from shoppers.

The newly renovated complex at Church and Carlton also features a new Joe Fresh clothing store and an LCBO liquor store.

The venue holds an abundance of heartfelt memories for hockey fans. It was the home rink for the Leafs for nearly seven decades – during which the Leafs won 11 Stanley Cups – before the team moved to the Air Canada Centre in 1999.

Appropriately, hockey will be a part of the landmark’s future: a revamped arena at Maple Leaf Gardens is set to open in spring 2012, which will be home to Ryerson University’s hockey team, the Rams.

I’m glad they’re finally bringing life back to this building, which has been an important part of Toronto’s history, and I think it’s great that it will once again become a destination for hockey fans and players alike.

And now, shoppers can enjoy the venue, too.

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Filed under Department Stores & Big Boxes, Shopping Hubs

Targeting the GTA

Toronto will be home to three Target stores when the U.S.-based mega-chain arrives in Canada in 2013, and a slew of other Target stores will be scattered across the GTA.

Target Corp. has announced which Zellers locations will be converted into the 105 first Canadian Target stores. On the list are three Toronto locations:

> Cloverdale Mall
> Shoppers World Danforth
> East York Town Centre

Other locations on the outskirts of the city include:

> Centerpoint Mall, North York
> Woodbine Centre, Etobicoke
> Bridlewood Mall, Scarborough

Still more Target locations will cater to Toronto’s suburbs. These include:

> Erin Mills Town Centre, Mississauga
> Square One, Mississauga
> Hillcrest Mall, Richmond Hill

Further outside of the city, you’ll be able to find plenty of other Target stores in such regions as Brampton, Newmarket, Aurora, Ajax, Burlington and Hamilton. Check out the full list here.

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