It is always sad to see an iconic business, event, institution, or legacy leave, and the Ottawa Holt Renfrew is no different. For the past 78 years, the Ottawa Holt Renfew has taken residency on along the historic Sparks Street. It will close it’s doors for good on Sunday, January 25th, 2015.
From a branding perspective, it is always questionable and iffy when a retailer closes up shop. The Ottawa location is not the only one closing; Quebec City is too (where the retailer originated from). Holt Renfrew has decided to streamline it operations and focus more on the bigger Canadian fashion markets like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. Some of the employees at Holt Renfrew have worked at that store for 20 or more years. I can only imagine how hard it would be for them to leave. Some employees will inevitably retire and others will have to look for new opportunities. Having Holt Renfrew on a resume will be sure to work to one’s benefit since they are known for their great clientele skills.
When I walked into the Ottawa Holt’s a couple of weekends ago, it was in a sad state of affairs. I have never seen the store in such shambles. It honestly looked like Honest Ed’s or a Giant Tiger (no offense to people that shop there). There were liquidation signs everywhere with the traditional yellow cardboard and red and black fonts. Everything was at a minimum of 50% off. Merchandise was thrown onto hangers without a care. Half of the store had been cleared out. The store’s furniture and fixtures were up for grabs. If you have ever wanted a mannequin bust, a rolling rack or a glass table, now is your chance to get it! I walked away with a bag full of beautiful wooden hangers, and a couple of wooden crate boxes. I paid $30 for everything.
Holt’s in Ottawa has been good to me. I had a personal shopper for a little while, and she was a sweetheart who would transfer in items for me from the Toronto or Montreal stores. This location did not house an extensive library of luxury brands that some shoppers may be used to seeing at some of the flagship locations. What this location did give, was a taste into the luxury world and enabled a strong clientelle to gain access to beautiful things.
The luxury fashion scene in Ottawa will not be left vacant for long. The US retailer, Nordstrom, is coming to town and will be opening it’s doors on Friday, March 6th at Rideau Centre.