vintage department store toronto

This is what department stores used to look like in Toronto

The department store in Toronto might not be dead, but it sure has changed in the last few decades. Gone are the days when a diverse array of companies battled it out for consumers who expected to buy just about everything under the sun in such stores.

Before the death of Eaton's in the 1990s, the department store wars involved many more players.

If you've been around long enough, you'll remember names like Kresge (later K-Mart), Simpson's, Woolworth, Woolco, and Morgans, not to mention discount shops like BiWay, Bargain Harolds, Towers, and the much loved Zellers.

Through the 1980s, the retail economy had yet to centralize in massive corporations to the degree that it has now.

There were the big players like Eaton's, Sears, Simpson's, and the Bay at malls across the city, but despite their reach, they never came close to the size, sprawl, and buying power of big box stores like Walmart and Costco.

It's hard not to look back at these store's with a bit of nostalgia. These were, after all, the places where a kid's dreams came true in the toy department.

In the days before the internet made consumer choice endless, these retail hubs were repositories of desire, as evidenced by the advertisements of the time.

Behold, what department stores used to look like in Toronto.

vintage department store toronto

The Bay at Fairview Mall.

vintage department store toronto

Simpson's at Fairview Mall.

vintage department store toronto

Towers at Midland and Lawrence.

vintage department store toronto

The mighty Woolco.
20140917-Eaton-Centre-Eatons.jpg

Eaton's at the Eaton Centre in the 1990s.

vintage department store toronto

Wide view of the anchor Eaton's at the Eaton Centre.

vintage department store toronto

The Yonge and Dundas entrance to Eaton's in the late 1970s.

vintage department store toronto

Simpson's at Yorkdale Mall.

vintage department store toronto

Entrance to Simpson's at Yorkdale in the 1970s.

vintage department store toronto

Eaton's at Yorkdale Mall in 1965.

vintage department store toronto

The Eaton's location at College Park.

vintage department store toronto

Woolworth flagship at Yonge and Queen streets.

vintage department store toronto

Eaton's at Shopper's World.

vintage department store toronto

The exterior view of the Bay at Fairview Mall.

vintage department store toronto

Simpson's location at Sherway Mall.

vintage department store toronto

Morgan's Department Store at Lawrence and Bathurst.

vintage department store toronto

The old Eaton's at Queen and James streets.

vintage department store toronto

The opulent interior of Eaton's at College Park ca. 1940s.

Lead photo by

Toronto Archives. Other photos from Chuckman's Nostalgia and Vintage Toronto.


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