John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

It is about to happen, the Zellers store that is twenty-years-old will be closing in the next ten days. It will be all cleaned up and turned over to Target Canada by the 29th of the month.  Construction will then begin on the new Target store for the Orchard Plaza shopping centre.

Ledcor Construction is set to start the reconstruction of the Kelowna store by the end of the month. The Ledcor Group is doing thirteen incredible makeovers of Zellers stores in the province for Target Canada.

In the Kelowna store they have some major construction because, to start with, the builder is going to move the south wall ten feet to make the square footage of the store larger. Then they have another outside job with changing the look of the front of the building and closing up the space that was formally the restaurant. In the end Target will have spent somewhere in he neighbourhood of $11.5 million. It should be opened in May.

That restaurant was the number one food server in all of Zellers' Canada stores. They captured the breakfast and lunch trade with their menu and made the best Denver sandwich.  I was wondering when I was writing this column where all those people have gone.  It was a meeting place.

It seems like just yesterday when the Minneapolis based Target stores made their offer to The Hudson Bay Co. to buy the Zellers chain of store location for $1.8 billion. Target has 139 stores on their list for remodeling. The first thing Target did was sell 39 stores to the Walmart stores. There are sixty-four Zellers locations that The Bay still owns and according to their source, these will be closed although some of them have long leases.

But let me tell you, I have been following that rumour for at least ten years. At the time my son-in-law who was also marketing his wares to these big box stores would sit in those archaic waiting rooms for companies ready to pitch the big guys. The rumours in the room were priceless and he would feed them to me each time something new came up.  At one time the lead was on the fact that Target would buy The Bay stores, but that didn’t last long. It switched to Zellers where it continued to build for years but there was really no admissions from Target headquarters that they were even looking towards Canada as their next expansion. When the Target officials came to Toronto and called a press conference we then knew something was about to happen. It will be a new shopping experience for most Canadians. Target already has over 30,000 credit card users in this country from Canadians cross border shopping.

The Canadian stores will be supplied with food products by Sobeys who are second behind Loblaws in retail food sale in the country. I don’t know exactly what foods will be featured but it will be a major department. Sobeys have such a good reputation.  The stores I have had the pleasure shopping in have always been outstanding. I was always impressed with their deli offerings


We just got our Sears Christmas Wish Book. I immediately thought about those days when I was a youngster and how the catalogs meant so much to me. We received a catalog from Simpson’s and Eaton’s - both of them gone now. Simpson’s was bought by Sears and Eaton’s just went out of business. The catalogs would always come in the mail.

I would read those books for hours and make lists of all the things I wanted from Santa Claus. It never did work but I never gave up. They were books made for the kids in the family. I never did get tired of looking at the things in those catalogs. They took me into another world.


This past weekend Sears closed their store in downtown Vancouver after a massive closing out sale that brought $25 million into the till.  Now reconstruction will begin to make over the building totally. Nordstrom, the giant Seattle merchant hopes to open their store in that location in Vancouver in 2015.

Nordstrom has plans for stores in Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto. The Calgary store will be the first to open.

The Vancouver location will be completely changed as the owner adds more retail to the ground floor. The Nordstrom store will start with a street location and go up two more floors. I believe they are also going to add some office space to the complex.


I read some facts in Canadian Business magazine that are quite impressive for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The team made a profit last season of $3.7 million dollars. This is the team that has a sea of green facing the TV cameras every week because the fans who are so loyal to this organization buy these expensive shirts and wear them to every game no matter what the weather is. They lead the league in sales of team stuff with $7 million in sales.


He has been my friend for thirty-four years and Doug Rutherford was in town for a little golf on the weekend with his wife and they have bought a home here for the future.

Doug was the news editor at Walter Gray’s CKIQ radio station way back when and that was an award winning news room. Then onto news director at New Westminster’s CKNW and later being named the production manager of that station.

His next move was to Edmonton where he was the GM in charge of the Corus (Shaw Media) radio stations in the province then became a VP at Corus and was in charge of their stations across the west. He was an executive who brought Howard Stern to Canada for his Toronto station. I’ll bet there is a good story there.


I read your column regularly and thought I would bring to your attention to an attempted fraud that we recently experienced.

My son had an engine for sale with ads posted on both Castanet and Kijii.  On Saturday, he received a call from someone from Penticton stating they were interested in buying the engine.  He also received a text.  All my son had to do was open a Paypal account and they would deposit the funds and arrange for getting the engine moved.  My son opened a Paypal account and prepared the engine for shipping.  A couple of days later, he received an official looking email from Paypal stating that the full amount had been deposited at Paypal plus the shipping charges.  All my son had to do was to go to a Western Union Office and send $850 to a shipping company.  He started getting suspicious about how this was going to work.  Why would it cost $850 to ship an engine to Penticton? 

As it turns out, he replied to the email and it went to a different email address not associated with Paypal.  The shipping company was out of the States and all funds were payable in US dollars.  We checked with Paypal and sure enough it was a scam.  This isn’t the way they do business.  The $850 would have gone to a company in the States and the scammers would have been able to claim the funds. 

The email he received was sent to Paypal for them to upload onto their files as potential scams.


I was in talking to Marlon Weidlich, the director of the SelectYourTickets operation at Prospero Place. I was there on some other business but I asked why the phones were so busy. His answer surprised me.  He said it’s all about the Grand Slam of Curling coming in December. The Kelowna tournament will feature 18 men's teams from around the world. There is $100,000 in prize money. It will be televised.  Tickets are on sale now.                      

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