Comment 42265

By Baxendale (anonymous) | Posted June 22, 2010 at 05:41:51

I wonder if the large downtown department stores that we remember so fondly -- Robinsons (d. 1989), F. W. Woolworth (d. 1990), Kresges (d. 1994) and Eatons (d. 1999), possibly the Right House (d. 1983) -- weren't the ones most enthusiastic to the switch to one-way streets, because they thrived off high volume of sales. Though it's tempting to see their demise as a karmic side-effect of support for urban freeways, I'm not mistaken they withered less as a result of traffic dynamics and more because of larger changes in the North American retail universe; they were not simply outside-owned chain stores but more importantly holdovers from a Victorian/Edwardian commercial model. As such, they were eventually outmanoeuvred by the realities of the late 20th century marketplace, which was entering the mega-mall stage of its evolution by the mid-'80s and big boxes not long after.

While we're on the topic, the same people who get vicious hives about the idea of plopping a WalMart or Zellers in Hamilton's CBD should reflect upon how much different those retailers would ultimately be from the departed Woolworth's and Kresge's, big-name discount department stores whose cost-slashing business model and lowest common denominator appeal is often forgotten.

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