By SARAH SHAW
Marshalls, an American department store, has finally made the leap across the border to the Great White North and settled in Kitchener, one of their 12 new locations in Canada.
In addition to their usual customers, they are targeting a more youthful demographic of 14- to 25-year-olds not often seen in department stores.
Marshalls is also setting themselves apart from competitors by not selling jewelry or home décor items.
The only Marshalls store in the tri-cities held its grand opening on March 29 at the Boardwalk on Ira Needles Boulevard.
“We used to shop across the border because we liked the diversity of the products they offered there and, depending on the Canadian dollar, it was cheaper to shop in the States,” said Donna Coutts, a Kitchener shopper.
“Now that the stores are located in Ontario, I’m more likely to shop here and it’s nice to have some of these brand names more accessible.”
While these new stores bring in big business, many feel that bringing the American favourite here could hurt small cities and towns by taking away from locally owned and operated smaller
businesses in the area as well as negatively affect Canadian stores.
“I don’t think there is any particular need for American chains to come to this area, especially since they can be so devastating to individually owned and operated businesses that provide everything that we already need,” said Kitchener resident, Marianne Pennings, who added that she “can also understand that people may like the diverse options that foreign-owned businesses can bring.”
Many shoppers might be surprised to know that Canadian-based companies such as Winners and HomeSense are owned by TJX, an American-based company operating out of Framingham, Mass., that also owns Marshalls.
And it’s not just Marshalls that has a cult following in Canada. Next year Target will open 30 new stores in Ontario alone, including ones in Guelph, Fergus and Cambridge.
And just like any other big-name American company that has made the move across the border, such as Wal-Mart, Canadians will embrace the growing variety of brand name merchandise at cheap prices.