Fields to close by fall 2012

Houston’s Fields store will soon shut its doors, along with all 166 other Fields locations across Canada.

Houston’s Fields store will soon shut its doors, along with all 166 other Fields locations across Canada.

No specific closures dates have been set yet, but the entire chain is expected to be shut sometime this fall.

Tiffany Bourré is a spokesperson for Hudson’s Bay Company, which has owned the budget-priced Fields chain since 1981.

Bourré said the move is part of a company strategy to focus on its other stores: The Bay, Home Outfitters, and Lord & Taylor.

Zellers, another budget chain owned by HBC, is also under review.

Early last year, Hudson’s Bay Company sold 220 of its Zellers stores to Target Canada for $1.8 billion. The  Smithers Zellers is one of the 84 remaining stores being reviewed.

Hudson’s Bay Company will not disclose how many staff work at Fields, but Bourré did say the company will provide staff with “comprehensive career training and transition support services.”

Those services will include workshops on resumé writing and interview skills, she added.

Several shoppers told the Houston Today that Fields is the only place in town that sells a wide variety of children’s clothes, and that it’s a favourite for staples like towels, soaps, pillow cases and other everyday things.

Councillor Bob Wheaton, a member of Houston’s economic development committee, said the Fields closing will be a big loss to the town.

“It’s another reason that someone has to go out of town for some basic merchandise, unless someone steps forward,” he said.

Fields is the only store in Houston that has the supply chain needed to offer household items like bedsheets  and pillow cases at a budget price, he said.

Wheaton, who worked for 20 years as a buyer for Eaton’s and HBC’s northern stores, said it would be tough for a “mom and pop” retailer to try and take over the Fields business model.

Given the large-scale supply needed to offer such low prices, Wheaton said it’s more likely that another chain store will step in.

Wheaton noted that Hudson’s Bay Company’s decision to shut the whole chain doesn’t speak to the viability of the Houston location. It could be a good business opportunity for someone with the right mix of suppliers, he said.

Joseph Segalopened the first Fields store in Vancouver in 1950.

There are currently 58 Fields stores in B.C., many of them in small towns. In the northwest, there are Fields stores in Kitimat, New Hazelton, Smithers and Burns Lake.