By Hannah Brunn, September 24 2019—
Humanity’s materialism has resulted in a very interesting relationship with ‘mom and pop’ stores, big multi-corporations and now, the new online retail giant Amazon. With the last Zellers soon closing its doors, many Canadians are up in arms, bringing nostalgia to something with no heartbeat, creating the illusion of a first-time childhood love, when really, we should take a step back and take a deeper look into the relationship between where we get our products from and what that means for people everywhere. This is my eulogy to Zellers, as well as, at least for this writer, the terms and conditions for my new relationship with one of the world’s biggest monopolies, Amazon.
Honestly, I haven’t seen Zellers in ages and haven’t heard anyone mention it until recently. Sometimes, I forget it exists. I took full advantage of it when I was young, but turned my back on it as I grew older. Zellers was mine and many others ‘first’ introduction to the materialistic world of back-to-school shopping and the desire to look good in front of our friends. As we grew older, we grew further apart. Zellers, Walmart, Sears and others were simply not cool enough for us. Back-to-school shopping included being lured in by the mysterious teen department stores, while my mother dragged me by the hand back to Zellers.
“What’s wrong with Zellers? It gives you so much for so little,” she’d say. I just hoped my friends didn’t see me in Zellers. Yes, Zellers gave so much for so little, like an overzealous partner, trying, failing, to win me back with bedazzled shirts and toe socks. This was for naught, as from an early age we were bombarded by the need to achieve a certain look — one that did not include Zellers. So we cut ties, not noticing that Zellers started to disappear, being replaced by large international corporations. Now we’re noticing, as the last two Zellers are set to close in January 2020.
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Zellers’ simplicity was welcoming in light of our latest relationship — our dependency rather, is more like it. A dependency in which the independent is the key actor in destroying what we once loved. Zellers isn’t perfect by any means. There are reasons why in a more interconnected, globalized world, we no longer go to stores like Zellers. However, the situation we’ve found ourselves in is as scary as it is exciting. Amazon has taken over our lives, collecting those ‘mom and pop’ stores like trophies, shoving department stores into their unmarked graves. Rarely does such corporate brutality faze us. Perhaps it does, but honestly, can we give up the convenience that the bad-boy of online shopping provides us?
We’ve heard the rumours, we know the facts, but human rights abuses — although apparent — are no match for the web that monopolies tangle us in. Ideally, we would make such things stop but our world is dictated by technology, making it hard to take back control. It’s easier to say you should ‘be a responsible shopper’ than to actually be one. Sustainability often comes with a price — usually too expensive for the day-to-day person. The cheapest option was once to stay with department stores, now it is to remain with Amazon. Manipulative in their materialistic ways, any means of escape is short-lived. I for one am not so high and mighty to deny deals and coupon codes. However, an awareness is seeping in, perhaps with the closing of Zellers and other stores, as well as our access to information and now we can see what exactly we want from businesses. A change in our outlook equals a change in market, so thank you Zellers, for all the good times you selflessly gave. Hopefully as we move forward we can use our power as consumers for the good.
This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet‘s editorial board.