Sunday, September 27, 2009

What happened to Eatons?

Growing up, if someone had told me that Eaton's would cease to exist, I would never have believed them. The department store was a Canadian icon. It had prime locations in downtowns and malls across the country, produced an aspirational Christmas catalogue, sponsored the Toronto Stanta Claus parade and, in Winnipeg (where I'm from), was the book end of a Portage Avenue stroll that started at the Bay and finished at the venerable merchant.

Yet here it is 2009 and Eaton's hasn't been a part of the retail landscape for several years. There are many reasons for that: different shopping needs, complacency, an inability to change.

I thought about Eaton's after reading Matt Hartley's article in the Financial Post on Canadian business's reluctance to embrace online advertising (and I would say the same applies to other social networking opportunities, too).

It made me realize that a lot of what we consider certainties are time (and trend) sensitive. Sure it's comfortable relying on the familiar. But in business, as in life, innovation, ideas and growth come from risk-taking and knowing when to try something different for a change.


Gini Dietrich said...

It's like Marshall Field's here. Icons and traditions are disappearing.

Steve said...

You've said a mouthful there Martin. Portage without Eaton's is surreal. Is the Bay next?

Martin Waxman said...

Thanks Gini & Steve. I think that part of the reason some icons disappear is they fail to evolve.

And while social media isn't the silver bullet, if a business is unwilling to consider it, that may be like taking a bullet.