The end is near for 16 Target Canada locations shutting their doors to the public next week.
The company confirmed to CBC News that the Target stores in the following locations will close at the end of the shopping day on these dates.
Closing on March 18:
- Stratford, Ont.
- Longueuil, Que.
- Edmonton (Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre).
Closing on March 22:
- Saint-Georges, Que.
- Fergus, Ont.
- Chatham-Kent, Ont.
- Smith Falls, Ont.
- Oshawa, Ont.
- Kitchener, Ont.
- Niagara Falls, Ont.
- Burlington, Ont. (2000 Appleby Line).
- Winnipeg (35 Lakewood Blvd.).
- Medicine Hat, Alta.
- Calgary (5115 17th Ave. SE).
- Chilliwack, B.C.
- Cranbrook, B.C.
U.S.-based Target is expected to close all of its 133 Canadian stores by mid-May, putting about 17,600 employees out of work.
- Target to close all 133 stores in Canada, gets creditor protection
- Target Canada workers frustrated by inflexible schedules during retailer’s final days
Some of the ill-fated locations are already counting down the days.
CBC News discovered on Thursday that the Niagara Falls location carried signs advertising, "Last 10 Days!"
This Wednesday, the Stratford store had plastered a sign on its front door declaring, "Last 7 Days!"
Nigel Howard saw the Stratford sign earlier in the week when it read, "Last 9 Days!" But he didn’t fully comprehend the brief message until he heard the news from CBC.
"I'm very surprised," said Howard about the early closing date. A habitual Target shopper, he insists there’s still plenty of merchandise left in the store.
Howard is also chair of the Stratford and District Chamber of Commerce and says the city’s Target will be missed.
Stratford’s Target leaves a hole
'It has more of an impact in a smaller community.' — Nigel Howard, Stratford Chamber of Commerce
"It employed a lot of people, around 100 people. And so any time in a small community when you lose that many jobs, it's of a concern," he said. Stratford’s population is about 31,000.
Howard predicted some workers will land jobs at other local retailers, but he worries that the majority will struggle to find employment.
"It's tough, it's going to be tough for families. It has more of an impact in a smaller community than Toronto where there are so many more work options."
Target’s retreat will leave a big hole in the Stratford Mall, he said. The retailer had replaced Zellers after that store also went out of business.
"It's hard to think who is going to go into that space, and I kind of wonder if they'll end up chopping it up into multi-commercial units."
Target isn’t the only big-box retailer in Stratford. A Walmart superstore sits just across the street. The two stores opened around the same time in the fall of 2013.
While Target failed miserably in Canada, Walmart appears to be on a roll.
Last month, the retail giant announced plans to add 29 supercentre stores in Canada over the year. That will bring Walmart’s Canadian store count to 396 by the end of January 2016.
Critics of Target believe the company rushed its Canadian expansion and missed the mark on keeping merchandise in stock and offering competitive prices.
Longueuil, Que., resident, Ruth Angel, agrees. She said she and many of her friends won’t miss the local Target when it closes next Wednesday.
"When I go to the States I usually stop there. But here, no, I never liked it," said Angel. According to her, the Longueuil Target had higher prices and less selection compared with the retailer's U.S. stores.
Although Target is shutting down in the city, two Walmarts remain. Angel said Walmart beats Target both on price and selection. "I get in Walmart and I want to buy everything, but not Target."
But, back in Stratford, Howard said he’s mystified by the critics, maintaining that his local Target was a well-run operation.
"It was always reasonably well-stocked. The staff in Stratford were well-trained, very friendly. It was always sparkling clean in there. You almost felt like you could eat your breakfast off the floor. It was a nice experience going in there."
'It had no loyalty to the town.' — Marion Isherwood, Stratford Ont., resident
But not every Stratford citizen feels the same way. Retired restaurateur Marion Isherwood said she’ll be happy to see Target leave town, calling it "American garbage."
She believes Target added nothing to the community. "It had no loyalty to the town. What loyalty could it give? It gave nothing," she said.
Isherwood also dislikes Walmart. She prefers to spend her money at small, locally run shops that often struggle in the winter months when tourism for the local theatre scene dies down.
"We don't need low-quality merchandise here in Stratford. We've got some very good … boutiques that are wonderful," she said.