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Aug. 9, 1996: Consumers Distributing closes the book on catalogue shopping

Customers who enjoyed catalogue shopping were disappointed when Consumers Distributing announced the closure of all 129 stores outside Ontario and Quebec.

More than 60 employees lost their jobs from 16 Alberta locations

On Aug. 9, 1996, customers and employees of Consumers Distributing learned all 16 Alberta locations would be closing. 1:27

Customers who enjoyed catalogue shopping were disappointed when Consumers Distributing announced the closure of all 129 stores outside Ontario and Quebec.

"If this is closing due to Walmart moving in, that's unfortunate," one Consumers Distributing customer said.

The shopping model for the chain was to have customers browse through a catalogue to select items and then have an attendant retrieve the items from the warehouse. The idea was to keep costs low by not having a large display of products in the store.

A customer flips through the Consumers Distributing catalogue. (CBC)

The retailer struggled to keep up with larger chain stores like Walmart and Zellers, with losses pegged at $15 million the the year before the closures were announced.

More than 60 employees from 16 locations in Alberta found out they would soon be unemployed, but not all of them learned the news from their employer.

"I heard it this morning from a customer," one Edmonton employee said.

Some Consumers Distributing employees found out the store was closing from customers. (CBC)

Consumers Distributing had hoped the remaining 90 stores in Ontario and Quebec could continue on. However, the company couldn't make that work and ended its 38 years in the Canadian marketplace.

In the video, CBC's Brett Harris visits an Edmonton location of the doomed retailer on the day customers and employees found out Consumers Distributing stores were going to close their doors.