Calgary’s Newest Department Store: Simons Says What?

Credits: Photo - Anonymous, Styling - Sarah G. Schmidt, Location - CORE Shopping Centre


Simons – the Quebec-based department store - just opened in Calgary. Thoughts, fashion friends? Many clients and loved ones share with me how overwhelmed the get in a department store. It appears that anxiety is exasperated when it is a discount department store such as Saks Off 5th or Winners. “There’s too much clutter,” “Everything is jammed in there,” “It’s a pig sty,” are some of the common comments. All true.

In Calgary I believe that consumers have fallen back in love with the department store model. Thanks to the higher end experience that Nordstroms provides. At the very least they are curious about the higher end places as there is always people in the store, cars parked outside their doors, and plenty of silver bags waltzing through other areas of Chinook Centre.

This past week, our city at long last welcomed Simons to the downtown mall. People lined up and people went inside. After a couple kicks at the can, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a doozie. It zig-zags five stories. Five! Men’s start at floor four, continue onto three, home and restaurant take up half of floor 2, women’s and extras occupy the rest of two and main, and services round out the basement level. Whew.

For some it’s exhilarating. For others it’s a terrifying, overwhelming pulsating maze. I get both takes.

On the one hand, I love a store that takes the consumer on a bit of a ride. If I’m going to leave the comfort and ease of shopping online, the store should step up the in-person experience. Bring it on.

On the other hand, how is an average shopper going to find what they want without feeling a crushing wave of FOMO as they try to sift through all the various mini-collections? Can you expect the average person to walk away having a good experience with all that stimulation?  

In the meantime, if you are up for the challenge of navigating this behemoth – or another department store - here are a few tips for ensuring you walk out happy.

Go in with a plan

Are you looking for work wear? Party dress? Bathing suit? Pick one or two wish list items per trip and that’s it. Otherwise it’s just too much. I’d put money on it that if you take on too much you’ll walk out frustrated, empty handed, or purchased things you don’t really love. Better check that return policy.

Set a time limit

It usually takes 20-30 minutes minimum per item to shop for. That includes finding it, trying it on, deciding to purchase or not, and either moving on or ringing up the till. When you are in that change room and about to look at yourself in the mirror, if you do not immediately love the item, pass. HARD PASS. Please know that your body is not the issue, it’s the garment. They are many fish in the sea, so keep fishing. 

Use the sales staff

Especially in the higher end - ie: not discount – places. They are trained and bored. Ask for their help with locating your wish list, sizing, and if they have similar styles at a range of price points. I have two pieces of friendly advice to share with sales staff. The first is to not be afraid to stand your ground on things like budget. Know yours and stay within it. Second, take style advice from people who are stylish. If you don’t like how they put themselves together, find another in the store that you do and ask them for help.

Be loyal

If you find a brand that fits your body, taste, and price range, keep going back. Telling the sales staff that you like a brand that they carry and why you like it will serve you well. The staff can use that information can as a baseline for other recommendations that are similar.

Have fun

It’s just shopping after all. Purchase items that make you feel and look good. That’s it.

Sure, it’s too soon to know what Simons will say for Calgarians. We have to wait until the “newest thing” dust settles and a few rounds of stock cycle through. There’s no rush, don’t be a bossy pants, and let’s wait and see. That’s what I’d like to say to Simons.