1953 - 2018
Simpsons-Sears Catalogue (detail), Spring-Summer 1965 © McCord Museum
Sears Canada was a department store chain with hundreds of stores across the country and a catalogue that was distributed to approximately 4.5 million homes. The company was in business for over 60 years, selling a wide array of products that included clothing, shoes and accessories for the entire family, cosmetics, toys, linens, dishes, large and small appliances, and furniture. The stores primarily sold international brands along with a few Canadian brands. In the 1980s, for example, Sears Canada partnered with Quebec designer Michel Robichaud to create a line of clothing under the Robichaud Diffusion label.
The retailer was created in 1952 when the Toronto-based Robert Simpson Company entered into a partnership with Chicago-based Sears, Roebuck & Company.
Named Simpsons-Sears, the new company began operations in 1953 by setting up 300 catalogue pick-up locations and opening its first store in Canada. Initially, it was restricted to operating in areas far from existing Simpsons stores. In 1971, Simpsons-Sears changed its name to Sears to avoid confusion with Simpsons. The following year, the exclusivity agreement concerning Simpsons stores was cancelled, enabling Sears to open stores in new cities and regions.
In the early 2000s, Sears Canada operated 124 department stores, 37 furniture and appliance stores, 17 liquidation centres and 130 dealer stores set up in small towns.
The company employed over 50,500 people across the country and recorded sales of $6.7 billion.
After trying to restructure its operations and reinvent its image, Sears Canada declared bankruptcy in 2017. This was followed by a long process of liquidating its stock. In January 2018, the company finally closed its 130 remaining stores, putting 12,000 employees out of work. Sears Holding is still in operation in the US
“L’adieu de Sears Canada, nouvelle écono de l’année selon la PC” Les Affaires, Médias Transcontinental S.E.N.C., 18 December 2017, https://www.lesaffaires.com/secteurs-d-activite/commerce-de-detail/la-disparition-de-sears-canada-nouvelle-econo-de-l-annee-de-la-pc/599465.
Rémillard, David. “La lente agonie de Sears Canada s’achève” Le Soleil, Groupe Capitales Médias, 15 January 2018, https://www.lesoleil.com/affaires/la-lente-agonie-de-sears-canada-sacheve-17b83183f2a39d36cf045b49b1be27e0.
“Un Américain est nommé patron intérimaire de Sears Canada” Les Affaires, Médias Transcontinental S.E.N.C., 15 Otober 2014, https://www.lesaffaires.com/secteurs-d-activite/commerce-de-detail/un-americain-est-nomme-patron-interimaire-de-sears-canada/572934.
Madeleine Goubau, Contributor
© McCord Museum 2021