As this Sunday passes, we bid a fond farewell to fabled and perhaps locally famous store at Yonge and Edward…The World’s Biggest Bookstore! Not only have we seen this one time giant fall but also we said goodbye to Sears (formerly Eaton’s) and in the near future Honest Ed’s.
To be perfectly clear this post is not to point out the politics or hardships that have led to the demise of these stores. I am just simply a fan that would like to pay tribute by sharing memories of what these places meant to me as a kid growing up in Toronto.
It was sheer irony that the week Sears finally closed its doors at the Eaton Centre, in February, coincided with Yorkdale Shopping Centre began to celebrate its 50th anniversary. A few days after Sears officially closed I snapped this picture. Hard to believe such an iconic brand was leaving us.
Maybe I’m showing my age but, I recall when this was Eaton’s not Sears. As a kid growing up in Scarborough, coming downtown to Eaton Centre was like a wonderland for me. The draw of these big stores, so many escalators, usually fast paced all the time, the two food courts, two McDonalds (yes I was easily impressed back then) and of course Eaton’s. Why does Eaton’s hold a special place for me personally you may ask?
Well, I had a family member who worked there. Visiting them was my excuse to go downtown and just be a kid with my eyes opened wide, especially at Christmas time with that Christmas tree dangling from the mall ceiling and the Santa with sled and reindeer. You could even sit on Santa’s lap, yes that’s right no Skype appointments! Eaton’s was that go to store when you wanted to be in style and it had a floor strictly dedicated to TOYS! Yes, Floor 7 a.k.a Toyland I remember you. The first time I ever saw a Nintendo or Sega Master System was on that toys floor.
Tell me you remember that shopping bag? That’s actually my Eaton’s bag I found it while rummaging through that closet most people have filled with bags and boxes that you haven’t checked in over a decade. When Eaton’s transitioned into Sears in the mid 90’s my family member sadly was no longer working at Eaton Centre and I did kind of resent Sears for a bit because of that. It didn’t matter what new Kenmore appliances they had on display I probably did not set foot into that Sears for like 2 years. Eventually, I caved and did shopping here and there but as I grew up I discovered other stores and I kind of lost touch with Sears unless I was seeking a fragrance or a watch perhaps.
When I heard Sears was closing its doors, my first reaction was ‘Hmmm will the Jays Store have awesome deals?” followed by the thought of that another piece of my childhood swept away. So for the last few months, while cutting through Sears, to either get to the rest of the mall or get to Yonge Street, I would kind of wander around and reminisce of those days but sadly I was blinded by the discount wholesaler vibe I was getting where literally everything was on sale even the fixtures and storage cases.
So I have lived through Eaton’s to Sears to now Nordstrom in 2016 wow where does the time go? While the ending for Eaton’s and Sears was kind of ugly to me I will hold on to that memory of the grade school version of me endlessly playing with the new toys in Toyland. Sometimes the simplest memories are the best ones.