Canadian-Owned Big Box Stores


Consumer pro-tip:

Canadian-owned big-box stores are a little different.

It’s most noticeable in Canadian Tire, the Real Canadian Superstore, the Hudson’s Bay Company, London Drugs, and Army & Navy.

What you expect is, you know, a comprehensive digital system that knows the exact location and quantity of every object in the store, staffed by a legion of underpaid, busy teenagers who are disinterested in everything but standing in their department, waiting in a cat-like state of readiness for someone to unshuffle their socks.

Instead, it’s a different, completely Canadian system where a tiny cadre of disinterested middle-aged folk in red vests smoke in the stockrooms while customers are forced to deal with a large, inchoate black-box that may or may not contain the object that they are looking for, but definitely contains several square miles of windshield wipers.

A small group of confused families have set up a tent-city in the Camping section waiting for someone who can help them get a bike off of the top shelf in the nearby Sporting Goods department. They have formed a set of religious rites focusing on the rare and some-say spiritual sightings of potentially helpful staff members. Some in the tent society say that these staff members are just a myth, a story told to children, and that the only way to truly retrieve something from the top shelves is to find an unguarded ladder.

The entire housewares section has been sitting, abandoned and untouched, since 1978. It is said that none who go there return.

There is sort of an electronics section, but nobody in the store has heard of or interacted with any technology more complicated than the integrated chips that came standard on coffee-makers in the early nineties, so it’s mostly stocked with Tamagotchi Pets and video games with names like “Halloween Solitaire Mega-Pack” that cost $2.99 and only run on Windows 95.

You can’t find the exact thing you’re looking for, but what you can find is something that costs $38 more and is a slightly different brand. You can’t find any online reviews for this object - as best as you can tell, you are currently staring at the only object of this brand that has ever existed.

The cash registers are somehow located in the least convenient possible place, and despite the existence of several registers, only one of them is currently active. The person in front of you is attempting to buy an entire deck-chair set in a small box that has clearly been opened once already and haphazardly taped back shut. A single gray pole sticks out of one side of the box. This customer is attempting to haggle the price down with a cashier who has neither the authority nor the ability to participate in such a transaction.

and somehow our big box stores fail to be competitive on the world stage