Saks in Canada

nordstrom clothing racksOne of the great experiences of my life was my first visit to the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York City. The historic building, the gleaming showrooms on each floor filled with the most luxurious brands in the world, and the mind-blowing shoe department that has its own zip code… heaven.

So I was excited when Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC) announced it was bringing Saks to Canada. And, I’m sure the flagship in Toronto is amazing, as are the stores in Vancouver and Montreal. I was looking forward to the full Saks experience, right here in Canada.

Unfortunately, the HBC leadership treats the rest of Canada with Saks stores just like it does with Hudson’s Bay stores. Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have amazing Bay stores, and the rest of the country has significantly lesser versions.

Well, here’s a news flash: rolling out Saks stores with minimal merchandise, small footprints and insufficient staffing devalues the brand. If you’re going to open a Saks store, make it the full experience.

I was just in Calgary where Chinook Centre is home to the first Nordstrom store in Canada, and a recently opened full-line Saks. The difference between the stores is night and day. Nordstrom brought the full luxury experience to Calgary and the store is always humming with activity whenever I’ve been there. Conversely, the rather sad version of Saks was barren, dull and listless. So disappointing.

Why bother?

So, HBC, you might want to study what happened to Target when it brought less than the full Target experience to Canada.

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