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Then & Now: The downtown Zellers store

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THEN: Walter P. Zeller launched his Canadian retailing empire in 1931 during the Great Depression, and one of his first 15 stores was in downtown Sarnia. This photo shows the storefront at 182 Front St. North in 1950, three years before its roofline adornments were obliterated by a tornado. The same block was also home to Kresge’s, Woolworth’s and a Metropolitan store. But Zellers flourished, in part, because it hired the best, paid generous employee benefits and promoted women, historians say. Having outgrown the downtown location, a new Zeller’s store opened in 1966 on London Road, near Murphy, then the outskirts of town. The “new” store closed last year, ending Zeller’s 81-year history in Sarnia.

Photo courtesy Marty Raaymakers


NOW: These days 182 Front St. is home to Presents gift shop and Norton Hairstyling, with private accommodation above on the second floor. The facade has undergone numerous alterations, although the central doorway and pilasters between the windows provide a few points of reference in both photos.
Journal Photo

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