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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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Where do you shop?

Christmas decoration on defocused lights background

Happy Holidays

Shopping season is in full swing. As you prepare for Christmas or Hanukkah, I’m interested to know where you shop for friends and family.

In most cities, the really interesting boutiques are the small, independent shops in trendy (or not so trendy) areas. Here you will find unique brands and lines that don’t dominate the mall. You’ll also find knowledgeable help to select merchandise that fits your needs – especially if you’re gift shopping.

Online shopping is a game changer. I find there are really good online offerings at some of the US’s major chains, especially specialty shops for plus size and big & tall. Canada’s selection in these categories is very limited. Check out Macy’s for a great selection of reasonably priced clothing. Saks and Nordstrom are strong contenders in designer fashion. All ship to Canada using Border Free – a service that calculates exchange, duty and taxes which you pay at checkout. It’s hassle free!

While I can’t compile a list of independent shops for every city, here are some thoughts for the Edmonton area:

124 Street

  • Shades of Grey
  • Floc Boutique
  • Pear Tree
  • Vespucci Ladies Consignment

Downtown

  • Who Cares Wear?
  • Workhall Studio

Whyte Ave

  • Gravity Pope
  • Bamboo Ballroom
  • Lola’s
  • C’est Sera
  • Galibelle (for interchangeable shoes)
  • Avenue Clothing Co.

St. Albert

  • Bella Maas Boutique (also in Sherwood Park)
  • Cerulean
  • Modern Eyes

Southgate Centre has a great mix of chain and independent stores.

West Edmonton Mall has a luxury row that includes Tiffany, Kate Spade NY, Marc Cain and others.