The Hudson's Bay Company's 114-year history in Yorkton came to an end last week with the closure of the Zellers store in the Parkland Mall.
Zellers made its first appearance in the city in the late 1960s as a lower-range retail competitor to The Bay, itself a Yorkton fixture since 1898. In 1981, the Hudson's Bay Company, owners of The Bay, acquired the Zellers chain.
In 1988, Zellers moved from its original location in the West Broadway Mall to its final location in the Parkland Mall, taking over the space occupied at the time by Kmart. For a period, Zellers and The Bay anchored opposite ends of the mall.
But the following decades were a time of declining relevance for North America's oldest corporation as it faced stiff competition from cheaper or trendier retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon. In 2008, after 110 years in business, The Bay in Yorkton closed down its operations.
That closure was both a commercial and a historical loss for the city. In its early years, the Hudson's Bay Company's mere presence in Yorkton was a mark of prestige, notes Yorkton Heritage Researcher Terri Lefebvre Prince.
"It is remarkable that this important company with the trade status they had chose Yorkton to open a store. In 1898, Yorkton only had 'village' status."
The primary legacy of The Bay in Yorkton is perhaps its classically styled building on the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North, constructed in 1912. Recently renovated and now home to several businesses, the building is today known as Hudson's Square or the Hurst's Building.
The Bay's closure was the beginning of the end for HBC in Yorkton. In 2011, the leases to 189 Zellers stores across Canada, including Yorkton's, were sold to Target Corporation of the United States. Liquidation procedures began at these locations shortly afterwards.
Then in February of this year, HBC announced that as part of a "strategic decision" to focus on its more upscale operations, the company would close all 167 of its Fields store locations across Canada. The discount department store, the only other remaining Hudson's Bay Company property in Yorkton, shut down when its liquidation process completed in July.
After several months of winding down, Zellers in the Parkland Mall closed its doors on August 1. To date, no official plans to replace the store with a Target have been announced.