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Merry Christmas from the ghosts of retailers past

Posted by Ed Conroy / December 21, 2012

Woolco TorontoAs clocks tick hurriedly towards the big day, and shoppers across the city scramble to find perfect gifts, ample food and tasty drink for houses full of hungry and thirsty family and friends, let's spill some spiked eggnog out for our favorite departed retailers from Christmas' past, and for one who is about to join their ranks after bidding adieu this shopping season.

Goodbye Zellers, we probably won't ever forget you and your laws of toyland!

And many happy returns to the holiday-glo memories of Eatons, Simpsons, Towers, Boots, WHSmith, Woolco, HiWay Markets, I.D.A, Miracle Foodmart, K-Mart, Knob Hill Farms, Dominion and of course the Rainbow Centre in Niagara Falls.

Merry Christmas!

Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at



Sandra / December 21, 2012 at 10:07 am
Good old Knob Hill Farms. My Mom & I were just reminiscing last night about Knob Hill as it would be around this time that we would be dodging the crowds there to do our Christmas grocery shopping there (Hwy 401& Islington location). Knob Hill would carry these delicious glazed donuts made by Primrose Bakery(I think) we always stocked up on them.
Laurie / December 21, 2012 at 10:34 am
I miss the days when Boots and Marks and Sparks were in Canada!
Knob Head replying to a comment from Sandra / December 21, 2012 at 10:37 am
Knob Hill Farms donuts were the best!
Steve Stavros / December 21, 2012 at 10:59 am
Knob Hill Farms was not at the 401 & Islington, but at the 401 & Weston.
Bailey / December 21, 2012 at 11:10 am
That Simpsons one is a gem.
BH / December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am
I worked at Woolco back during my university days around the time it got taken over by Walmart--not a bad place to work really. I was wondering when Zellers would finally join the ranks of the "ghosts" of retailers past. It held out a long time, a lot longer than I expected.
helen / December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am
Of retailers past - remember Woodwards in the west and GW Robinson's in Ontario.
NG / December 21, 2012 at 11:53 am
Makes me sad to see all the Canadian stores that have gone under.
I still have Christmas decorations in their original Woolworth's box. Bought at the Bloor/Bathurst store Dec 1965, a month after we arrived in Canada.
rick mcginnis / December 21, 2012 at 01:21 pm
HiWay. I've lived in Toronto all my life and I have no memory whatsoever of HiWay.
rick mcginnis replying to a comment from Bailey / December 21, 2012 at 01:25 pm
I was working at Simpsons when that commercial was made, but I was a poor student with no TV and never saw it. The '80s really did look like that, but with less singing.
Al / December 21, 2012 at 01:27 pm
IDA is still around. There's one at Bay and College and another one in Chinatown.
Skye / December 21, 2012 at 01:59 pm
I TOTALLY REMEMBER THAT DOMINION COMMERCIAL. I thought it was so neat as a kid, and I'm pretty sure my parents still have it on VHS, as part of our taped-off-TV Christmas specials collection.
cathie / December 21, 2012 at 03:33 pm
Anyone remember Sayvette?. There was one at Centrepoint Mall (I still call it Towne and Country) and it was bought out by Woolco. There was a Miracle Mart there too, where the current Canadian Tire is.
Joe replying to a comment from cathie / December 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm
Yes, I remember Sayvette, and think there was one at Jane & Wilson. I too still refer to Centrepoint Mall as Towne & Country. Not many people remember that name anymore. No mention of Kresge in the article?
Scott Thomas / December 22, 2012 at 12:13 am
Wish you a Merry Christmas
bill kennedy / December 22, 2012 at 04:03 pm
Yes I certainly remember Sayvette there use to be one in Thorncliffe Plaza around Don Mills and Overlea Blvd.
Timmy / December 22, 2012 at 04:34 pm
There was also a large Sayvette store at Dixie Plaza in Mississauga that became a Knob Hill Farms. Now it's a Sears warehouse / No Frills.
Craig replying to a comment from rick mcginnis / December 22, 2012 at 05:41 pm
There was a HiWay Market in Kitchener, near highway 8 and webber road. I'm not sure if there were more.
Harry / February 10, 2013 at 10:09 pm
It breaks my heart to see Zellers go, as it did when Wooolco and Eatons went into Retail Heaven. It hurts more because I have a soft spot in my heart for Zeddy having won the grand prize in the 1987 Club Z-Kodak Bonus sweepstakes -a brand new Cadillac Allante convertible (somebody else in Ottawa won the second prize, a 1947 Cadillac replica). I will never forget Zellers.
Harry / February 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm
I have been searching for copies of the Bay TV commercials from 1975 with the catchy jingle, "...ask us for anything, almost anything at the Baaaaayyy..."
Lee Edward McIlmoyle / December 16, 2015 at 11:58 am
I still fondly recall poring through the Consumer's Distributing Catalogue before Christmas, back when Eastgate had an outlet.
Gwen / December 17, 2015 at 04:41 pm
I worked at Simpson's, then Miracle Mart and then at A&P. All 3 are now gone.
Sandi / December 19, 2015 at 01:12 pm
Still remember Woodwards. Worked there for years. Was in British Columbia and Alberta only. Went Bankrupt in 1993. Was a great place to shop and work. Had the best $1.49 Days along with Woolco's $1.44 Days. Will never be forgotten.
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