As The Leader goes to print, Sears Canada is before the bankruptcy court applying to liquidate its remaining stores across the country. The retailer has been under creditor protection since June. Since that time, 59 stores were closed including those in Brockville and Cornwall. Another 10 stores were slated to close before today’s court filing and the future of the company has looked grim as executives tried to find a plan to save Sears Canada in some manner.
The impact of the collapse in South Dundas is minimal in relation to jobs, as local catalogue stores have become little more than delivery locations. Sears switched to online ordering nearly a year ago.
However, with Thanksgiving just over, many people’s thoughts turn to the Christmas season. The fact is, Sears was a big part of that season for decades. The large department store toy sections were a wonderland to the young, and young-at-heart. What a joy to walk into them in search of the next great toy. Even better, if you lived out in the rural areas, was the holy grail of Christmas childhood: a soon-to-be dog-eared catalogue: The Sears Wish Book.
That Wish Book was like getting a peek inside Santa’s Workshop, right from your own house. You knew the Christmas season was officially underway when that book arrived in the mail.
In some households, great battles would be fought over who was next to get a turn to look through The Wish Book and dream. To keep the peace, it was not unheard of for suffering parents to have multiple copies on-hand, just in case.
Since the advent of Google, eBay, Amazon and online orders, The Wish Book has been getting thinner and thinner. Last year’s was the thinnest yet, thinner than most sales catalogues.
Sears is not the first Canadian department store chain to disappear. Eaton’s has been gone for over 15 years, Simpsons longer than that. Zellers was bought by Target in 2011. Subsequently all Target locations were closed just four years later.
All that is left for bricks-and-mortar stores are Walmart, The Bay, and some higher-end chains in big cities.
It’s sad to see these institutions and traditions leave us in the name of so-called progress. There was something somehow magical about The Wish Book. Point-click-and-ship doesn’t have the same feel to it.