Summerside bids farewell to Zellers

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SUMMERSIDE — Zeddy, the Zellers mascot for over 30 years, has officially left County Fair Mall and the lowest price law will now be left for others to uphold.

Staff at Zellers in the County Fair Mall made the most of the last day of business. Several presentations were made and many staff took the opportunity to have their uniforms signed by workmates. Car man Paul Saunders (left) received a Zellers jacket while Barb Pye, Vicki Marchbank and Linda Power received recognitions for 30 years service. Also shown are Kirsty Wright (right) and Cindy Palmer (front) who made sure she got as many signatures as she could.

Saturday saw the closure of the Summerside store, with remaining merchandise being sold for up to 95 per cent off regular prices.

Larry Canan, manager of the County Fair Mall Zellers, assessed his store as a solid performer over the years and applauded its involvement in the community.

Canan said staff morale was high as the last of their customers browsed what was left on much-reduced shelving in the near empty store.

“It’s an amazing staff. Anyone would be fortunate to get them as employees.”

Zellers first opened as a thrift retailer in the 1930s, going through a series of acquisitions and mergers before becoming part of the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1970s. It has operated on P.E.I. since, taking over from Towers and K-Mart stores, which were purchased by Hudson's Bay Company in the early ‘90s.

In the past decade, Hudson's Bay Company was itself purchased by an American businessman and then by an equity investment group from New York. The new owners determined that Zellers was not part of their future and agreed to sell stores to Target and Wal-Mart, with unclaimed stores, including the one in Summerside, being liquidated.

The Summerside store employed between 65 and 100 staff, depending on the season. Many were on hand Saturday, sweeping carpets, rearranging product as shelves cleared and, of course, saying goodbye to customers they have served for years.

Staff gathered for a few presentations earlier in the day, including a 30-year recognition for Linda Power and a Zellers jacket for cart man Paul Saunders. Most had their Zellers shirts signed by other staff as mementos and have a gathering planned for early April.

Canan's future is retirement, but he has received enquiries from other retailers about staff opportunities.

Some Zellers staff found other employment, but most remained to the very end.

There were expressions of regret from staff and customers for the loss of the store and employment, but there was a last-hurrah and interactions seemed light-hearted.

Denise Grant has been with Zellers for 12 years, starting as a cashier and moved through departments.

Grant gained several responsibilities during that time, almost to the level of running the store, but is looking to move on.

She enrolled at university last September, studying English in an arts program with a notion of teaching the language overseas. Zellers accommodated her plans by scheduling her full-time hours around her university coursework.

"I know a lot of staff are sad, especially those who have been her (much longer),” said Grant, recognizing that new employment might be more difficult for older staff to obtain.

Steven Conway, an employee for less than a year, was less affected by the loss. He came in for the last half-hour to help out and say farewell to work mates.

“There’s a couple of people you won’t see anymore, but others you'll stay in contact with," said Conway.

Customer Rose MacCormack felt the loss early, lamenting the closure of Zellers restaurant where she knew many seniors regularly dined. She, like many others, came on the last day just to see what was left and be a small part of retail history.

All the merchandise in the store was sold locally and some was even brought in during the past several months. The Charlottetown location closed in mid-March.

Zeddy was publicly voted to be adopted late last year. His new name is Barry, and he will help children deal with cancer at Camp Trillium.


Organizations: Zellers, Hudson's Bay Company, K-Mart Wal-Mart

Geographic location: Summerside, New York, Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Be happy
    April 03, 2013 - 21:34

    I don't know who hit whose nerve. Although I did not work at Zellers i do work in retail.First of all customers do not BUG you.You are being paid to help customers!! If you are chatting be aware of oncoming customers,stop chatting and ask them if they need help!!! They should not have to say " excuse me ,can I get help".Yes customers complain But you knew that when you took the JOB it goes hand in hand with retail.If you don't want to hear complaining customers then go work for Cavendish farms or McCains where somebody else takes complaints.If a customer is being especially rude then you get your supervisor or manager that is what they are there for...Real customer service is putting the customer First no matter what......They are the reason you have a job in the first place.While on the other hand if staff are ignoring you and being rude You can go to the store manager that is his job also.Customer feedback both good and bad is very important to any business,so they can fix whats wrong and continue whats right. I don't know about Zellers but in the store I work in there is Always something to do,even on storm days, that's when you deep clean and get things done that you can't do when store is busy Losing a big Employee in a small town is a major hit to a lot of families. We should all be trying to be helpful and instead of bashing customers or staff try posting names of company's you know that may be hiring .......

    • Chris
      April 04, 2013 - 14:48

      Bravo "Be Happy", You hit the nail right on the head. I agree 100% with your comment and am certain that where ever you work your doing a great job. For the (former) employees of Zellers,here's a job suggestion. Tim's right across the road is hiring, but you will have too smile and SERVE customers all shift long. Good Luck !! I don't know why PERSONAL slurs were allowed in some comments, but to clear up a few let me say that after 40 years of hard work in 6 SUCCESSFUL service businesses, I am now semi-retired and living off the proceeds of my hard work. I don't know who you are calling "welfare trash" but it shows your true opinion of the customers who paid your wages. Those folks on welfare spent more at Zellers tha most others. Best of luck with the job search folks. Just remember, it's a job, not a social club. 100% of the time you are punched in your time belongs to your employer. PERIOD !!

    • Catherine
      April 04, 2013 - 21:06

      I know that we are paid to help customers. :) I'm not saying I didn't go up and ask them if they needed help or not. I enjoyed going up and asking if they needed help or whatnot. Though there are those customers who jsut want to shop around and seem annoyed when we ask if they need help.... I unfortunately discovered. lol. When i mean "bugged by customers" I don't mean the ones who come up to us for help if we are talking, as we'd be happy to help them but I mean the ones who may be bothering us to help them even while we are currently helping another customer or just finishing up a job. Just to give us a minute to finish up what we are doing is appreciated before we are able to help them. We worked hard at that store to have good customer service. I know it wasn't always perfect but we did as best as we could. Yes, compain to management as it does better than complaining directly to the employee as that just makes them upset or angry... or both. I know it will affect my family cause, even before I worked at Zellers, we shopped there all of the time... there, Country Fair Mall, and Sobey's. And with more stores closing in the mall.... I dunno what they're going to do. I'm up in C'town right now so I'm kind of excited to see what compitition Target brings to Wal-mart. Thanks you for the last comment "Be Happy". :) I agree and sure we all appreciate it.

  • Shirley
    April 03, 2013 - 15:55

    LADIES(Denise&Catherine)...... Don't waste your time trying to defend yourselves against someone that has no idea of customer service ... Ppl just like to get someone going ... Denise , I do remember you while I worked at Zellers .... VERY smart woman and yes you do know your job .... Stores open and close ... It's called business ... Good and bad .... No matter where anyone works ... There will always be those ignorant customers.... It's too bad we didn't have the stock for them the day they get their welfare checks isn't it ?? That's when all the Trash come out to play .. But they don't play nice , do they ?? Catherine .....NEVER let any customer make you cry ... All employees have rights and the management are there to protect them ... Walk away or smile and say ... Have a nice day ...u have the right to refuse a rude customer , don't matter where u work ... Enough said anyways .... Best of luck to both if you in your future ...

    • Catherine
      April 04, 2013 - 20:53

      Thank You Shirly. Yes, luckily we had great management and my suporvisor helped in that situation. I was grateful. It's a nice comment or two or words of encouragement or two that really help us workers.... or all workers in fact (especially in retail). Not comments like certain ones below. And I'm sure many others are thinking this but thank you to all of the customers who have supported Zellers over the years. We appreciate it.

  • Chris
    April 02, 2013 - 11:00

    My previous comment seems to have hit a nerve ! According to Thane, I shpuld have to search out customer service and politely interupt the conversations of those employees who are being paid to serve customers, not to chat. Catherine says I was late for the sales and not to blame staff for shortages. When I see a sale tha tI want I am always there at opening time on the first day. The fact that merchandise is not available is no reason for the short, rude answers I always got from the "friendly " staff. HA! You state in your comment that you chatted when customers weren't "bugging" you. You where there for the customers, not your own chat sessions. Attitude like that is what "people say they saw" and what closed Zellers. All stores are SERVICE businesses and if the employees don't give service they should be told to hit the road. It's not a "family", it's a business.

    • Denise Grant
      April 02, 2013 - 17:20

      Where do I start so that JP's horrible censoring doesn't kick in... You hit nothing other than whooshing air. If you can't find customer service, is not the first thing you do go looking for it? Due to budget cuts, at most times there were 2-3 staff on the floor. I'm not sure about you, but 3 staff to cover a 50,000sqft store is.. well, a little bit lacking. If they are chatting, a simple "hello, can I get some help" would suffice. Yes, we're there to serve customers: But we're also there to put out stock, clean, and do other things. And yes, while we're stocking shelves, we might be chatting. But guess what? Other stores staff chat too. I don't know what you've gone in for, but I don't understand how it's always "Zellers" that never has anything in stock, when I've walked in to Canadian Tire AND Wal-Mart plenty of times on the sale day to NOTHING in stock that was advertised. I'm not bad mouthing the store. Stuff happens. Logistics happen. Sometimes, stock is LATE or something the store, for whatever reason doesn't receive the allotted stock they were suppose to get. Sometimes, plans change since the printing of the flyer. In the past two years, I don't remember all too often of not having a sale item in stock. In fact, we took up the practice of pulling items off the floor if we knew there was going to be a shortage. If something WAS sold out the day of the sale, then chances are, guess what, someone came in the night before and bought it. Yes, it happens. People come in before the sale, buy the item and then bring their receipt in for an adjustment. Is that that staffs fault? Hardly. From your attitude, I'd treat you rudely too. You sound like a real peace of work. And you know what, if there is NO customers and NOTHING to work on (like, a storm day, where it seems only mothers and small children venture out in whiteout conditions and then comment once they arrive "Oh my, the roads are terrible!") then by all means, I'm certain I can stand there and chat. But hey, I guess I can't. I'll just stand in my electronics bullpen and pick my nose while I wait on your graciousness to grace me with your presence :) What closed Zellers was the fact HBC doesn't know how to run a discount retailer. They tried several restructuring ideas that just brought frustration. Cause if Zellers closed because of attitude, then how about when I get ignored at the another stores electronics when I politely ask for a game out of the showcase? If you want perfect one on one service, go shop at a store dedicated to it, and pays staff more than minimum wage and actually has enough staff on so we can wait on people hand and foot. Don't walk in to discounter and expect to be tripping over staff. I hope wherever you work (assuming you do) it has nothing to do with interacting with anyone human. Because you sir, are a fine piece of work. On that note: Yes, I plan on going back in to Customer Service. I enjoy helping people, so long as they aren't expecting me to think for them. I troubleshoot problems, offer suggestions, and generally have a wide knowledge of electronic products AND video games. I had customers who would come back to me because I've recommended several good items to them, or because suchandsuch a store doesn't know anything. I've had people BRING IN their items from other stores for help. And no, you didn't hit my nerve. I'm made of thicker things than that. But if you wish to parlay, by all means, let us parlay. I will meet your every comment with a wonderful response that befits customer service. I loved the staff at the store. I loved the regular customers at the store. I'm sad to see it go, as it was a home for MANY people, staff and customers included. You might be jaded in your views, but please remember, the Earth rotates around the sun, not around you. And please, you might want to add a little more sugar to your coffee in the morning. It seems too "bitter" for you~♪ :)

    • Catherine
      April 02, 2013 - 17:56

      Chris, I think it was your TONE that hit a nurve. I would of accepted it fine if it was a more polite way of complainging such as something simple and straight as "I did not like Zellers. I found that there was bad customer service and now I will rely on Wal-Mart as they are a good business." Something along that line would of been more polite (kinda ironic isn't it that you said the STAFF were not polite while.. well... look at how you are wording things on here). I will admit that would still probably hurt me but I wouldn't feel the need to explain myself on why the statement was wrong to say, as a nicer version wouldn't of had a reason. I would of accepted it. Thane is correct. If you are AT customer Service then yes, there should be someone there and you just have to wait your turn. Sometimes, when we are switching shifts, there may not be someone there for a few minutes but be assured that someone would be coming. As for us workers on the floor, like Denise and I both said, we have other customers that we could currently be helping and just to wait a turn. And if we are "chatting" we are at least working. I've been to plenty of other stores where the workers are just standing there, sometimes reading or on their phone. Though I will admit that there have been those issues before with newer workers not being aware that they must be working constantly, I will say that management did take that into account and did their best to make sure everything was getting done. But it gets to the point where there is almost nothing to do. That is when any chatting starts but again... it does not mean we were not working. I'm sure you've chatted on the job a few times and MANY other people at other stores- no hate words to them though. Chris, do you KNOW why some of us workers aometimes answer in an almost rude way? It is because we get SO many customers complaining to us that we do not have a sale item in and it can get frustraiting sometimes to just have complaint after complaint about something that you have no control over. And as Denise said, sometimes we do ahev the stock but it is sold out before a sale as some people may not be aware of sales that are coming up. So there is that along with not getting stock in in general, which again, we have no conrol over. Can you PLEASE try to imagine having rude customers complaining to you constantly about stock? :( It isn't the most fun. I've had one customer who was YELLING at me that got me to the point of tears. We also have to deal with customers who try to even lie to get a good deal and sometimes to the point of bringing a worker to tears. :( We were never there to be yelled at And yes, we were all there for the customers but COME ON! Let us say a few words or two without bitting our heads off. We were still there to help you. We were not closed because of bad customer service but because we were sold. We were a Canadian company and then sold to someone in the States, and then the Liquidation cmapany. Hey! I am AWARE that it was a business but when you work together for SO LONG with people, whether that is at a job, school, etc, sometimes if you get along and get to know each other over the years you become sort of a family. Please tell me you know where I am coming from. If not, why not? Because building relationships outside of your family and circle of friends is a great experience and nly makes you want to work harder for the people and the company and gives you pride in what you do.

  • Shirley
    April 01, 2013 - 21:31

    Very much missed ..... I worked at zellers for many years before moving to Ontario ... I worked in the restaurant ... It miss it very much especially the staff and the customers ..... It's Not the sales that bring the customers in ... It's the ppl there ... The staff are very amazing ppl to work with ... It's like family ... I remember Scott Flinn was the store manager when I left ... Barb Pye ... She was there when I was there ... Ppl use to call us twin sisters lol ... The customers always put a smile on your face .. Never a dull moment ... Seniors always lived the bingo mornings ... Barb would call them , The assistant manager at the time was Gail DesRoches , manager was Irene Gallant ... Both I have missed soooo much .... In summary ... Great staff and great memories ... Thanks Zellers store #177 for giving me great memories ... Miss all the staff .. Good luck in the future ...

    • netnanny
      April 08, 2013 - 15:36

      Way to go, Denise. You were the smartest one in the store. As for "Chris" he sounds like a disgruntled "former" employee. I can,t imagine Summerside without Zellers. I, for one, will miss that store

  • Thane
    April 01, 2013 - 19:56

    As a Zellers employee of Charlottetown that closed on March. 14, It breaks my heart to see the closure of Zellers in Summerside and witness another round of great, happy, employees get laid off and lose a job they loved a lot with people that they loved even more. I fell bad for them trying to find a new job when it's had find a job in Charlottetown let alone Summerside especially when they had no say in the closure, and for the ones that found a new job it will be hard for them to adjust to the different atmosphere and people, because working at Zellers you know were everything is, and the people like your family, because they were. I hope that they all find new jobs that they enjoyed as much as Zellers and they all do well in there future endeavors, whatever they may be. I was happy to hear though our beloved Zeddy will be finding a new home at Camp Trillium! Chris- What a rude comment that was, I don't know if you ever went through a store closing, but it can be a very hard time for some people, it was for me, it can turn your life upside down, and for you to be as inconsiderate as you are is unbelievable, you are not worthy of good customer service, and I imagine no store, no matter how they try, could appeal to your King like attitude. They didn't have items because you worn't in, in time, if the staff were talking, politely say 'excuse me' to get there attention, not rocket science. With the respect you have your not even worthy of the job; village idiot.

  • Arden Gardiner
    April 01, 2013 - 19:37

    I have been the merchandiser for Coca-cola for the past 5 years and although i8t was sometimes frustrating trying to get some good floor space for our product, I always looked forward to seeing and talking with the staff, who in my humble opinion were some of the nicest people I had the pleasure of dealing with. I wish the entire staff the best of luck in securing new positions, and know that anyone hiring them will gain a valuable employee. A special congratulations to Larry on his retirement, a man I truly respected and know that the respect was a 2 way street. I wish all the staff the best.

  • Chris
    April 01, 2013 - 14:24

    What a crock ! The Summerside Zellers was the poorest excuse for a store that I ever shopped at. They hardly ever had the advertised sale items and their staff where rude. Customer service was an unheard of luxury because the staff were too busy chatting with their "friends" (other staff members usually). I wish Walmart etc. the best of luck taking up the slack for this dinosaur of a store. Hopefully the staff get new jobs that don't involve SERVICE, because they just weren't up to the job.

    • Catherine Bailey
      April 01, 2013 - 15:45

      Chris, When it comes to sales and what products that we have in us workers do not have control of what we get in. The flyer goes for every store in the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario. Please do not take the lack of product anger out at us workers, as it is not our fault. If you want to complain it is the people who RUN Hudson's Bay Company. Personally I think we gave good customer service. Have you ever gone to any other Zellers? I find that other stores the people were not as friendly. We are allowed to talk to staff members and have to most days as we have to work together to get things done. And if we are chatting it was while we were working and had no customer bugging us AT THE TIME. Maybe if you gave people a CHANCE to walk to a department to help you (as workers can be quite tied up at times helping other customers) and not get frustraited if we do not know all the answers as we didn't have them all because we were not TOLD everything by the company. And especially during Christmas we have many seasonal employees who are not as experienced. Not because they didn't train them but because it takes a while to get used to the work environment. I wish the best of luck to Wal-Mart too but only because now they will ahve REALLY good compitition with Target coming into Charlottetown. And personally I have never found Wal-Mart service the best "either." And we did not slack. If you had to deal with customers or people to talk about stores and workers like you do, you'd ahve troubles to. For what we've all been through I think we've all done very well. Especially dealing with liquidation. As for me, I hope that people I worked with DO get jobs in service or ANYWHERE in fact because many of them deserve a good job as they work very hard.... despite what people say they "see" in the stores. Please, if you have comments like these please keep them to yourself and/or your family/friends as some people loved Zellers and had a great work family there and do not appreciate the criticism as we've all heard it before. And it doesn't matter anymore now that we are closed. Go do you shopping at another store since that is what it seems like you're going to do anyways. Thank You.

    • Denise Grant
      April 01, 2013 - 18:37

      Please go take your negative nancy attitude elsewhere. Do you not have anything better to do with your time than waste peoples time by reading your rude dribble? If you don't have something nice to say, shush up and keep walking~♪ :)

  • Catherine Bailey
    April 01, 2013 - 11:08

    I worked at the Summerside Zellers for the past 4 years during Summer seasons and Christmas Seasons. They were the best bunch of people I ever worked with- friendly, hard working, great friends. I'll never forget them or the store or my times working there. So many memories from working there such as the blackouts (with flashlight tag, Christmas music, and a bat flying around) and just the everyday working and joking around with friends I made there. :P I appreciate SO much how they would hire me back with open arms every year (without even re-applying!) as I know that that does not happen very often. The supervisers (Rhonda, Darlene, and Anna) and manager (Larry) were great and always made you feel welcome and comfortable at work. Over the years I've also gotten to know a few regular customers and will really miss helping them and enjoying their visits to the fashion department and the jewlery department. I was happy to be able to participate in their last day, be there when they closed, and take group pictures for them to keep. I wish the very best to everyone