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Remembering iconic Vancouver retail giants we thought would never die

Nordstrom is in good company
750 Burrard St in Downtown Vancouver has been home to multiple big chain stores we never expected to see close. Here are seven other iconic retailers we were shocked to see die.

Nordstrom was a monster department store on the corner of Granville Street. It takes up a lot of real estate, and it came as a shock that it is closing.

The news has prompted many people to speculate about what might fill the space next with some expressing concern or doubt that another retailer could maintain such a large space for an extended period of time.

It's a valid concern.

Not only are we entering a potential recession, but Nordstrom is not the only retail giant to attempt a mega-store in Downtown Vancouver only to close unceremoniously.

We take a look back at all of the big iconic stores that tried to make it in Downtown Vancouver.


Remember CDs? Before Victoria Secret, the corner of Robson and Burrard was dedicated to music and pop culture. From 1957 to 1995, 750 Burrard Street was the main branch of the Vancouver library before Canada's first (and only) Virgin Mega-store moved into the space in 1996. The southeast corner of the building was also Vancouver's first Planet Hollywood which opened a year later but closed in 1999 due to bankruptcy.

Multiple TV stations and media outlets have also had their headquarters on the upper floors of the building since the 90s.


In 2005, Virgin sold the retail space to HMV but and not before a cameo in the 2001 Josie and the Pussycats movie. HMV lasted for seven glorious years and in that time multiple shows were held in the space and Robin Williams even stopped by the store.


The closure of Nordstrom shouldn't come as a surprise because the next two entries on this list, also once occupied the massive department store space.

Eaton's was one of the first anchor stores of Pacific Centre at took up a whopping eight floors from 1971 to 2002 before being bought out by Sears. There was a lot of criticism about the Eaton's wing of Pacific Centre due to it's white tile facade (dubbed the "Great White Urinal”) which replaced the more characterful Strand Theatre, Birks Building, and second Hotel Vancouver.


Eaton's went bankrupt in 1999 and was bought out by Sears Canada in a $50-million deal.

After acquiring Eaton's corporate assets, Sears lasted in the space from 2002 until 2012 but only occupied seven floors. In 2012, Sears sold the space back to Cadillac Fairview (the current owners) for $170 million as part of a downsizing effort before liquidizing in 2017.

Future Shop

Future Shop was Canada's largest electronics retailer in the 1990s and occupied the multi-level store opposite Sears for several years before closing abruptly in 2015. Best Buy bought Future Shop in 2001 for $580 million and when the Granville Street Future shop shuttered it was converted to a Best Buy which is still there today. 


Ah Zellers, the prodigal child that will be returning to Vancouver soon (just in a different form).

The 1950s was the era of the department store, Feilds was established in Vancouver that by entrepreneur Joe Segal who also bought Zellers in 1976 before selling it to Hudson's Bay in 1978. The Vancouver Zellers was located at 650 W 41st Ave.

A&B Sound

The first A&B Sound was founded in Vancouver by Fred Steiner in 1959. In 1970, the store moved to 556 Seymour St before opening more Metro Vancouver locations in the late 70s and 80s and expanding into Western Canada throughout the 90s. The store sold TVs, stereos radio equipment,  records, cassettes, and later, CDs. The chain was known for its affordability and was popular among Canadians until the likes of Future Shop and HMV came on the scene in the early 2000s.

In 2008, after closing multiple locations including the original Vancouver store, A&B Sound officially announced that it had gone out of business.


Woodward's was a Vancouver-founded department store that first opened on Main and Georgia in 1892 before moving to the flagship location of Abbot and Hastings in 1902. The store was around for over 100 years before selling to the Hudson's Bay Company and closing its doors in 1993. Many may recognize the towering W Eiffel-tower-eque sign which was once part of the Vancouver skyline and has since been replicated many times over to make up for the demolition of the original Woodward's building in 2006.