Canadian Tire knows you want to exploit Charles Dickens' legacy this holiday season
December 20, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

If you lived in Canada in the 80s and 90s, then the holiday season meant one thing: Give like Santa, save like Scrooge.
posted by mightygodking (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter: Exposing me to the absurdities of other cultures, every single day.
posted by ACair at 11:37 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey, it's my childhood! On the internet!
posted by blue_beetle at 11:41 AM on December 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, didn't realize that the C128 disk drive was that expensive. Thanks Dad!

I would also like a list of the top businesses whose names sold one thing while the stores themselves sold all sorts of things.
posted by circular at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's always enjoyable watching video from my childhood. It's an interesting sensation. The images are entirely familiar (especially since I saw a lot of these commercials or shows or movies dozens of times) but I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next.

I guess that though at that time my ability to make sense of my sensorium was well developed, my ability to construct and recognize, and thus retain narrative structures was not. Which is why I could watch the worst drivel and be blown away by the story (he was the BAD GUY!?! But he was their FRIEND!!! *world crumble*)

Also: TEDDY RUXPIN
posted by Alex404 at 11:51 AM on December 20, 2010


Well, I'm in Canada too, but this was my holiday season!
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:52 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Heh. I always try to explain Canadian Tire to Americans and somehow never quite manage to get my ideas across. Also, it took me forever to figure out where to buy certain things in the US due to the lack of Canadian Tire stores. (why am I looking for a garden hose in a tire store? what do you mean that makes no sense? and where do you keep the camping supplies?)
posted by GuyZero at 12:01 PM on December 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


In that second link, where Scrooge says "Saaww-ry" at the end -- was that an American actor playing a British character in a Canadian commercial?
posted by maudlin at 12:06 PM on December 20, 2010


GuyZero, Canadian Tire is an odd mix of things, but I think a big part of its expansion into household appliances came after the collapse of Consumers' Distributing.
posted by djfiander at 12:07 PM on December 20, 2010


If you lived in Canada in the 80s and 90s, then the holiday season meant one thing: Give like Santa, save like Scrooge.

That's two things.
posted by flarbuse at 12:09 PM on December 20, 2010


Oh man, now I'm having flashbacks of flipping through the Consumers catalogue every December to make my Christmas list.
posted by aclevername at 12:10 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Canadian Tire is an odd mix of things, but I think a big part of its expansion into household appliances came after the collapse of Consumers' Distributing.

Oh, man. Consumers'.

For Americans who don't understand, Consumers' was really the big Canadian catalogue distribution chain up until the mid-1980s when it died. Sears had a catalogue too, but Consumers' always beat them because it had better prices, and the reason Consumers' had better prices is because their "stores" were just these kiosks with a big warehouse in the back; you went to the store, filled out a form with the SKU numbers of the things you wanted, and then stood around and waited for ten minutes until they showed up with your boxes of stuff.

I see it now as a pre-internet version of the Amazon business model in a lot of ways.
posted by mightygodking at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Did you know that CT has food now? They put fridge cases in our neighbourhood one a few weeks ago. I think their formula is CT = Walmart + NAPA Auto. Now I can get milk and eggs when I pick up that brake kit.
posted by bonehead at 12:16 PM on December 20, 2010


I thought they just sold tires!
posted by i_have_a_computer at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2010


I always thought the Canadian Tire money was fun.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:26 PM on December 20, 2010


you know what drives me mental? the canadian tire at bay and dundas (sorry everyone not from Toronto, feel free to ignore this comment) they have organized the place as more of a "lifestyle store" or something like that. You just try to find the tool you want - you'll have to wade through 4 aisles of debbie whatsername's throw afghans. duct tape? it could be anywhere. sure as hell won't be in the heating and cooling section, if they even have such a section anymore. grumblemumble nobody there knows a damn thing about building stuff either rackinfrackin...
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:32 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


So: that slogan. Did they have other slogans during the not-Holiday season? Or did they just run with the Santa/Scrooge dichotomy year round?
posted by penduluum at 12:35 PM on December 20, 2010


Make sure you use the full name: Consumers Distributing. I still have my CD card somewhere. I think the last thing I bought there was the pots and pans I'm still using decades later.
posted by clvrmnky at 12:35 PM on December 20, 2010


and also, about that bay and dundas, they kept pushing a huge, suburban sized Crap Tire into a v. v. tiny space, so its all overwhelming and panic inducing. And the service, oh the service. It took me 30 minutes to get mouse traps there once --and there is such a dearth of hardware stores downtown, so I was hoping that this would be a place I could get the basics of home shit.

Also, do they even have a tire counter?

(I once saw Debbie Travis at the Yorkville Williams Sonama while filling out job apps, she was yelling and abriding this cashier because she would not return a obv. fine but used toaster--she actually said do you know who i am)
posted by PinkMoose at 12:40 PM on December 20, 2010


I see it now as a pre-internet version of the Amazon business model in a lot of ways.

Your Consumers' Distributing sounds a lot like our Service Merchandise. Did most of their business out of catalogs, but had actual locations: you went to the showroom, gathered up the SKUs of what you wanted from the catalog, took it to the teller who entered it into a computer. Or later, entered it into the computer yourself. And then, from the back/warehouse area, out came your products! With no human intervention. On a CONVEYOR BELT. As a kid, this was essentially like visiting the brick-and-mortar location of Santa's Workshop. Toys appeared literally as magic, through the same kind of split-rubber-sheets that protect the conveyors at airport baggage pickups.

But then they tried putting a whole department store on the front, which drove their costs way up and destroyed the business model. Also this was around the time Walmart was having its scorched-earth way with the retail landscape. But I still have my memories.
posted by penduluum at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


But then they tried putting a whole department store on the front, which drove their costs way up and destroyed the business model.

This is in large part what similarly killed Consumers.
posted by mightygodking at 12:44 PM on December 20, 2010


That and the fact that their employees were stealing them blind. Stock control apparently was non-existant. There were guys in my highschool who could get you anything you wanted from the catalogue at substatial "discounts".
posted by bonehead at 12:47 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you so much for this! A buddy and I heard a radio ad just recently while carpooling to work, and it was a local business that used 'give like Santa, save like Scrooge' as their tagline.

We both looked at each other kind of askew. Hearing it from someone that wasn't CT just left a bad taste in our mouths.

I guess we were both properly imprinted as children!
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:50 PM on December 20, 2010


So: that slogan. Did they have other slogans during the not-Holiday season? Or did they just run with the Santa/Scrooge dichotomy year round?
posted by penduluum at 2:35 PM on December 20 [+] [!]


Strictly a holiday thing. I can't even recall what their normal slogan was though.

Right now the slogan is 'For days like today, there's Canadian Tire'.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 12:52 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


So would the American equivalent of Consumers Distributing be Service Merchandise?
posted by SirOmega at 12:53 PM on December 20, 2010


Bah, darn you penduluum.
posted by SirOmega at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2010


Call me racist, but my childhood bargain shopping in Southern California was totally White Front.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:12 PM on December 20, 2010


You know what would really spin my chakra wheel? If someone could dig up the audio for

♫ Honest Nat's department store
48th and Fraser ♫

posted by Meatbomb at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Strictly a holiday thing. I can't even recall what their normal slogan was though.

There have apparently been a number of slogans over the years. Besides the Scrooge ones though, "There is a lot more to Canadian Tire than tires" is the only one that's wormed its way permanently into my head.
posted by bethnull at 2:18 PM on December 20, 2010


As mentioned up-thread, Service Merchandise is the equivalent of CD in the US. For any Brits on here the equivalent would be Argos.

I usually try to explain Canadian Tire as a Walmart that assumes Rugged Canadian Outdoorsmen(TM) do all of the shopping for the family.
posted by mzanatta at 2:32 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall Consumers Distributing lasting about a year after you know who began its invasion of Canada in 1994. My mother was the manager of one of their stores, and I remember finding her name in the big fat list of unsecured creditors.

Also: some of us remember when Bea Arthur was Mrs. Claus.
posted by evilcolonel at 2:58 PM on December 20, 2010


Canadian Tire is an odd mix of things

So far the closest I've found is OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) here in California which is like Canadian Tire without tires or camping supplies or clothes (well, actually I guess OSH has some work clothes) or food or hunting supplies or electronics or auto service. So it's close. But Target is so darn clean and well-lit and could take Zellers in a fight with one hand tied behind its back, so it evens out.

And, like Canadian Tire sells very few tires relative to everything else, OSH doesn't exactly supply hardware to orchard workers much anymore, so it has that same "why are you called that?" vibe to it.
posted by GuyZero at 3:25 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have not missed these ads one bit.

I would, however, gladly take them back if it meant doing away with that stupid whistle jingo piped through their stores EVERY FIFTEEN GODDAMN SECONDS.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:32 PM on December 20, 2010


I would also like a list of the top businesses whose names sold one thing while the stores themselves sold all sorts of things.

Have you been to London Drugs lately? My recent purchases include cookies, a coffee grinder, and computer supplies. Oh and I did find cough medicine in one corner of the store.
posted by binturong at 3:45 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a short-term resident in BC, London Drugs did indeed confuse me greatly when I went in looking for cough medicine.
posted by GuyZero at 4:17 PM on December 20, 2010


I moved from Vancouver to Ottawa 4 years ago and still long for London Drugs. It took me forever to figure out where to buy stuff.
posted by Abbril at 5:23 PM on December 20, 2010


For the record, Consumers Distributing died in the mid 1990s. At the time my company was working with some smart people there on an e-commerce web site, which would have been a perfect business for a catalog store.

When we presented the designs to the CEO, he looked at us, stroked his chin and told us, in no uncertain terms, that the internet was a fad and only good for publicity stunts.
posted by KS at 7:14 PM on December 20, 2010


i totes miss london drugs, living in toronto now but growing up in ontario
posted by PinkMoose at 11:15 PM on December 20, 2010


growing up in alberta
posted by PinkMoose at 11:20 PM on December 20, 2010


living in toronto now but growing up in ontario

Sadly there are some people who think that actually describes their lives correctly...
posted by GuyZero at 11:31 PM on December 20, 2010


Ahhhh...Crappy Tire...what I liked was their relatively recent commercial music that had lyrics like "I'll start with youuuuuu", and my sister would shout "DON'T YOU START WITH ME!!!!" in a threatening voice.

I gave my now-husband a gift of Canadian Tire money on his first visit to Toronto, and informed him that it was a national tradition.

Still, you can get pretty much everything at Canadian Tire at a good price (I adore the irony of the revamped store at Leslie & Sheppard in TO, where the actual TIRES are now hidden away in the basement level, while the majority of the rest of the store sells you anything and everything else).

(and Consumers' Distributing was where my family bought our very first Nintendo console)
posted by biscotti at 6:41 AM on December 21, 2010


I hate Canadian Tire Money. You can never get rid of it completely, so it just sits in your wallet forever getting dingy and taking up real estate. I have 20 cents in banknote sitting in there right now.

But I've always found their automotive folks helpful.

Also: "4 aisles of debbie whatsername's throw afghans" Debbie Travis. I saw her speak at a conference and she basically insinuated that all twenty-somethings everywhere have no work ethic. I'm not even twenty-something anymore, but I'll never buy anything with her smug little grin on it every again.
posted by Kurichina at 1:51 PM on December 21, 2010


I still think of the Canadian Tire actor as the definitive Scrooge. Alastair Sim has nothing on this guy.
posted by krunk at 6:34 PM on December 21, 2010


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