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New Simpson-Sears Store – 1970

With the news of the impending demolition of the Sears Store at Devonshire Mall, here’s a look back at when the store was new and getting ready to open as a brand new Simpsons-Sears. Simpson-Sears was a joint venture between the two companies, in 1984 the company officially became just Sears, while stand alone Simpsons stores eventually became The Bay, and Simpsons name vanished from the Canadian retail landscape in 1991.

From the Windsor Star August 10, 1970

Every shopping centre requires a major attraction, and there is little doubt the huge Simpson-Sears

department store takes pride of place at the Devonshire Regional Shopping Centre.

First planned three years ago, the store was designed as the largest single building ever undertaken by the company. “Windsor was the last large market in Canada that we did not have a store in, and we felt a store of this size was required for the market that is here,” explained Dave Collyer, architect on the job.

The interior of the two-storey structure offers a wide range of facilities to make shopping an enjoyable and convenient experience.

“It will be a most beautiful, up-to-date interior,’ said Bill Duredoth, general manager of store planning. ‘‘We have used carpeting extensively. The new miracle fabrics have enabled us to put carpeting on all main aisles.”

All colors of the rainbow have been used in the exacting job of merging nearly 100 departments into an harmonious, complete environment.

‘‘In the fashion area, we will cater to the young set with vibrant colors, but we have more subdued, more

contemporary areas as well,”’ Mr. Duredoth added. ‘The men’s divisions will be given a strong masculine treatment, and all clothing sections will have beautifully-carpeted fitting rooms.”’

He stressed the Windsor store will be one of only a few which carry the entire line of Simpsons-Sears merchandise. “‘This is very important — you can get what vou want,” said Mr. Duredoth, who noted his company has maintained a high reputation in catering to all interests.

Another highlight will be a pleasant 150-200 seat cafeteria on the second floor done in “‘semi-garden” decor, along with an 80-seat snack bar on the first floor for people on the go. Only five of about 30 stores in the chain offer these facilities.

Customer pick-up facilities, especially valuable for farmers and other customers purchasing large items like refrigerators and furniture pieces, will be located on the warehouse dock at the rear.

Some 60 telephone positions will be installed for another important customer service, telephone orders. Mr. Duredoth noted that no one will wait for long, as there will be a panel over all lines and a light will flash for every ring. It will be picked up either by the supervisor or other personnel.

A full line of Simpson-Sears unconditionally – guaranteed hardware will be carried, as well as complete suites of building, plumbing and heating supplies. Carpeting, bathroom and kitchen goods will be arranged so the consumer can begin on a small scale and work his way up.

Full service shops — including television and radio, furniture and draperies — will be in the basement, which has been designed so that it can be converted into another retail floor if required. This is only the second time this provision has been made.

A 12-bay, 23,000-foot-square service station offering up-to-date gas island service and all service features, is being constructed separately and will be the second largest in the company’s inventory.

An elaborate “seasonal sales’’ area at the rear of the main building will give customers the feeling of being able to purchase sporting equipment outdoors all year long. It will be enclosed in walls, with a roof covering only half the area.

Merchandise such as snowmobiles, camping and fishing equipment will be displayed here on a seasonal basis said architect Collyer.

Construction of the store has proceeded on schedule, and Mr. Collyer noted the company was fortunate in selecting a pre-cast structure over a poured-in-place one.

‘The structure was laid down in December, January and February during one of the coldest winters on record,’ he recalled. ‘‘If we had selected poured-in-place, we would not have gone anywhere.” –

An unusually large sum — more than $30,000 — has been invested in landscaping outside the store. And Mr. Collyer is hopeful the city will arrange for the area between the store property and Howard Ave. to be sodded.

When asked about the lack of display windows in the store, Mr. Collyer was quick to point out there are no Surrounding sidewalks either. He said the company does not believe display windows are required in a suburban shopping centre, where people are there to shop.

Mr. Collyer said Simpsons-Sears went ahead separately from the rest of the mall, giving a contract for $4,600,600 to W. A. McDougall Ltd. Of London, because it has always preferred putting big jobs out to tender rather than negotiating a contract.

He pointed out this is the second project in which Simpsons-Sears is working together with Cambridge Leaseholds Ltd. as developer on the other section.

One of the interesting developments during the foundation construction was the transfer of all excavation material removed from the basement to the site of the E. C. Row Expressway interchange at Howard Ave., to be used for construction of a ramp.

Simpsons-Sears top attraction at Devonshire Some idea of the size of the store can be guaged in the fact that if all the fluorescent tubing used was put together’, one would have an unbroken line extending for many miles.

As for cost, the cash registers alone cost about $250,000.

The Windsor store is one of seven Simpsons-Sears outlets opening in 1970.

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