Towers Tales

As I find stories, Towers related odds and ends, and reminiscences about Towers/Bonimart, I'll add them here. If you have something to add here (or correct), please contact me.


Updating vital to growth; warehousing-distribution
Chain Store Age Executive with Shopping Center Age (July 1984) 

The distribution systems of retailers are the nitty-gritty of their operations. If there's "nothing really new in materials handling" itself, as one retail distribution expert put it, there is nonetheless a need for constant improvement in distribution plants and equipment.

In recent years the distribution portion of total capital expenditures in the retail environment has grown in line with management's view that the distribution function is an increasingly vital strategic advantage. In fact, retailers have predicted almost a doubling of capital expenditures for distribution over the next two years, according to a Chain Store Age executive study (June 1983).

Illustrative of the work being done in the retail climate are some of the recent improvements in Heck's distribution system. According to Bob Griffiths, vp-warehousing and distribution, the company's main distribution center (350,000 sq. ft.) has had a complete refurbishing this year.

Tow lines, flor racks and new conveyor belts made by Bushman were installed. The shelf-goods pricing area was revamped. A new soft goods processing area was added and climate-control equipment was installed in the 30,000 sq. ft. soft goods section of the center.

While Griffiths does not disclose the cost of these improvements, with further improvements in plant and systems planned for the next three years, he does project the payback on these capital expenditures at six to eight months. In some cases the equipment is already showing a payback.

Heck's is also mapping out new computerized controls to manage purchase orders. The goal is to track every carton from vendor to store in a manner similar to what is done at Walmart or Ayr-Way--two companies where Griffiths worked prior to joining Heck's last August. The purchase order management system will be run on headquarters' IBM 3764 twin units, and Griffiths expects the system to be up before Sept. 1 in time for the fall rush.


Towers Department Stores of Ontario, Canada, a 48-unit chain, has been concentrating its effort on software to improve the exchange of information between distribution center and headquarters' mainframe to plan labor functions more efficiently, according to John Share, vp-distribution and warehousing.

Since Towers adopted the "push" system, where all merchandise is distributed through buyers and nothing is ordered directly by the store personnel, the subsequent tracking of units being sold at the store level has created more efficient ordering.

When deliveries to the distribution center were stepped up, vendors and carriers found their delivery appointment times were sometimes backed up for weeks.

"Slot transfer" reports were developed through Tower's MIS department to give warehouse managers an up-to-the-minute status report on space availability at the warehouse. This has made workers more productive since no one has to walk the floor to look for available space to place shipments in.

Shipments can be adjusted well in advance of incoming shipments, trucks are not kept waiting and vendors can make delivery appointments in peak periods without long waits.

Share is now working in conjunction with Tower's systems development people to design software that will forecast labor requirements for order picking three days out to provide more efficient worker scheduling and avoid unnecessary overtime payments.


J. C. Penney has an addition to one of its distribution centers under construction in Buena Park, Calif., that will expand the existing 700,000 sq. ft. structure by 350,000 sq. ft. This is a multipurpose facility which serves all southern California stores and provides selected functions for national distribution. Michael Todres, director of distribution, explains that Penney expects a 23% return on investment from this project.

In 1985, J. C. Penney plans to add about 150,000 sq. ft. of distribution capacity in New Jersey. The site has not yet been finalized.

Penney has optical scanning at its six catalog distribution centers and the company is installing scanning at other distribution locations as "time and money permit," according to Todres. "In under three years, we'll have scanning in all our facilities," he says.

Todres explains that Penney uses laser scanners. The suppliers of scanners change frequently to keep pace with improvements in equipment.

"Updating vital to growth; warehousing-distribution." Chain Store Age Executive with Shopping Center Age 60 (1984): 74+. General Reference Center Gold. Web. 21 July 2011.

Little Blue Monster Hat

Little Blue Monster Hat and can also be made with a smaller circular loom as a hand puppet. This pattern is worked in a garter stitch method.

  • row 1- knit

  • row 2- purl

  • row 3-knit

  • row 4- purl

  • so on and so forth.

Tools needed: Crochet hook that matches the yarn measurements/ weight, knitting hook tool, green KK circular loom, Yarn of your choice. I used to ply 4 weight 100% acrylic. I actually used a recycled yarn. I asked family members to donate their unused yarns to me. The yarn brand that I used is from Towers dept store which went out of business in the early 80's. If you are using old recycled yarn, test it to see if the yarn retains its shape. All you have to do is hold the yarn in both hands. Pull on the strand and if it snaps apart the yarn is no good. If the yarn doesn't snap back into its original shape, it to is no good.
Hop the Train to Towers

6) at lunch time we'd hop the train to Towers dept store  (Niagara Falls) and raced (fast walked) from one end of the crowded store to the other. dave barnett (twitter)

60¢ at Towers

I received a little Q&A survey from someone who's interviewing cartoonists for their blog. I don't have time to answer all the questions right this minute, but took a quick look at what he was asking.

One of the questions is: Which comics did you read as a kid?


Aside from Archie comic books, I always read the comics page in my local paper, The St. Catharines Standard. Where else could you read comics? (Oh wait...I remember finding those little paperback Peanuts collections... 60 cents at Towers department store. Does that date me or what?)

Towers Sundress

My 14-year-old will walk the gymnasium floor tonight to pick up his Grade 8 diploma. He is now taller than I am, his voice sounds deeper than Justin Bieber’s, and there are some days I truly think an alien has taken over. Who is this child?  Some days, he only needs me for movie money, and rides to his buddies. Or to help in the search for clean socks. And then he does something that surprises me.

My baby. 

My mom called yesterday, and we recalled my Grade 8 grad night complete with a white swiss dot sundress from Towers department store ( remember that place??) and my first pair of “heels”, which were really bright blue canvas wedges. Apparently we had a mother-daughter “discussion” over them. I somehow have erased that from memory, but still remember those happening shoes! Loved this story from our 570 Morning News run today.

Spot Chateauguay
Spot Chateauguay opened in July 14, 1964, and later sold to IGA Bonimart in late 1970's.It featured the "crayon, mark your own price", and BBQ chickens at 99 cents each. 

The one my grandmother (on the dad's side) went for groceries way back (she lived in Chateauguay). She always went to Towers (Bonimart) first and then to Spot.I remember this storefront was made after the Bonimart face-lift. As the original storefront had huge bay windows and had the "Marché DISCOUNT-O" sign in front...
Crappy Batteries

I can still remember the cardboard carbon batteries we used to buy at Towers Dept store under the brand name "Flying Bomb" made in China for 10 cents a battery back in the 60's. They used to leak, corrode and lasted about an hour in a battery powered toy...but they were only a dime, so we got what we paid for! :lol:

Retail dental clinics opening in local shopping centres - Trident
Ottawa Citizen, May 3, 1984

Mall dentist plans chain
The Montreal Gazette, June 14, 1980

Towers - Record store of choice

(and for cheap makeup)

Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2003 07:35:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Catherine McKay 
Subject: Re: Joni Epiphanies NJC

Growing up in Burlington, Ontario- not too too far from the burbs of Toronto, my hunch is that your record store of choice may have been Towers Dept. Store??!! That was the closest for me, and I still remember when albums were $3.17 CDN of course! and then jumped to $3.21. LOL! You know, it probably was Towers. They were within walking distance of our house and it's where my sisters and I used to go to hang out, buy records and cheap makeup. Ironically, some years later I would take a part-time job at Towers - a job which I quit within a few months because I was tired of cleaning up after slobby people that just threw stuff around when they were looking through it.

Smashed into Towers, and then out,
with drugs

Toronto Star, February 13, 1987


David George Fitzgerald pleaded guilty last month to forging drug prescriptions and to robbing a pharmacy while wielding an axe. Fitzgerald, 30, is a fourth-year honors student at York University with an intelligence quotient in the top three per cent of the population, court heard. He began university after spending 12 months in jail in 1983 for drug offences, defence lawyer Tamara Stomp said.

On Nov. 18, 1986, Fitzgerald marched into a Towers department store pharmacy on Dundas St., assistant crown attorney Rick Bennett said. He went behind the counter swinging an axe, smashed the lock on a cupboard and ran off with $200 in narcotics.

Towers on fire!
Ottawa Citizen - March 10, 1982

Everything DOES connect

June 13, 2010 - Blog
In the small eastern Ontario city where I lived in the early 1970's, there used to be a department store called Towers. (In view of the possibility that anyone wonders what happened to it, the fact is that all 51 Towers stores were purchased in 1990 by Zellers. Swallowed alive and so gone from the world as we know it.) 

Without further ado, let me get to the point that before they disappeared, Towers stores advertised with a slogan which, strangely and a little annoyingly, I still remember all these years later. 

Here it is. 

"At Towers, everything connects. The last day of one sale is the first day of the next." 

So I have one favourable thing to say about Towers department stores. Their slogan was right. And that's why I think it is a good and profitable idea to develop a talent for walking past a candy dish without taking a candy. 


There happens to be a candy dish on a shelf of the bookcase immediately outside my office door. You may feel free to drop by and help yourself to a mint anytime you please. That's why it is there and is kept topped up.


But I recommend that you don't.

My view is that there is far more value in dropping by so as to practice declining the urge to pop a tasty little blob of sugar in your mouth. On principle. The value of the experience is derived from the fact that when it comes to living a disciplined life, and "not being conformed to the former passions which were yours in your ignorance." 


Towers was right. Everything connects --- and sometimes the last moment of one of life's little battles is the first moment of the next. 


What I've picked up over the years is that when I develop and maintain a discipline of some sort, practically of any sort, it influences me to discipline myself in other issues of life. 


The opposite is also the case. Slackness and sloppiness and lack of self-control in one aspect of life leads to the same sort of attitude in other aspects. 


So a little bowl of candies can serve us well as an opportunity to practice saying "No" to our impulses and appetites and desires. 

Fitting with this is what A. W. Tozer once said. Tozer, the world's only famous Alliance pastor other than A.B. Simpson, apparently once answered the question of how long to fast by saying, "As long as it takes to show your stomach that it's not in charge." 

I'm not entirely sure that he actually ever did say that, but if he did, I agree with him. And if he didn't, I like to think that he would have if he had ever thought to. I also like to think that he had a little dish of candies in his office that stayed strangely full because he always walked past it without taking one.

Cryptic Collectibles: 50 Years
of PSYCHO Collectibles! 

James Burrell on September 30, 2010

I’ve long had a special fondness for Psycho. The first time I remember seeing it was probably back in 1980 or ’81 when I was 8 or 9 years old and although the film’s themes (voyeurism, sexual repression, duality, among others) and Freudian concepts went completely over my head, I could still appreciate how tense and frightening it was. 

On top of that, I was in total awe of Bernard Herrmann’s shrill score – reminiscent of screeching birds – with which I would later realize nicely

tied into the whole bird motif that ran throughout the film.

When I bough my first VCR (a huge, top-loading model from a Granada

rent to own store) at age 14 from the earnings of a summer job, the very

first movie I bought was Psycho. 

Purchased brand-new at the then-bargain sale price of just $24.99 at the Towers department store at Jane and Finch Mall, I played it that same night and noticed several things I had not observed before. It’s now 24 years later, and I still have that tape.

And I still notice something new every time I watch Psycho.


His North Stars melted. So did his Mom.












Good memories








Worst job at Towers? Pet department

Re: Past Jobs that we held just to pay the bills Posted by: Mar (IP Logged)
Date: October 12, 2005 11:16PM

High school, worked in the main office filing report cards..mi did know what all di uppity gyal dem marks was..dwl, some a dem did dunce nuh fawt.

swiss chalet, couldn't handle the hot plates up the arms, plus the waitress training me pocketed all the tips so mi go fi break after 3 hours work....well I'm still on break 25 years later and have only had eaten dem food once since then.

worked at Mcdonalds, 6 months...quit, church's fried chicken, 6 months...quit, bulk food store, couple months, towers dept. store for about 5 years, the worst of that job was working in the pet dept....sold pets....cleaned hamster and bird cages and the fish tanks...after that mi decided I didn't want any pets in my house....but di pickney dem won out on that one


"Towers was right.


Everything connects --- and sometimes the last moment of one of life's little battles is the first moment of the next."


Gawd awful red polyester uniforms



Towers 100% drip dry nylon! The wonder skin tight fabric. Now in brilliant psychedelic prints that never fade!

"This blouse is made from a once in a lifetime fabric find. I was given a box of fabrics from someone cleaning out her stash. In the bottom was a paper bag from the old Towers Department store, which closed in the late eighties. In the bag was five yards of this fabric, complete with receipt and hang tag. The tag read "100% drip dry nylon! The wonder skin tight fabric. Now in brilliant psychedelic prints that never fade!" All true! The pattern is a modern one, from a commercial catalogue, from a retro inspired collection. The skirt and belt are my own creations also."

Towers Clowns
From Daily Gleaner:

The man behind the carefully applied face paint is Ray Mulholland. He's been clowning around since 1975, when he lived in Summerside, P.E.I.

"I couldn't come up with a name," he said. "I was looking in the mirror and no name came to me, so I was just 'The Clown.' "

The name Tinsel didn't come until the early 1980s. It was given to him by someone who said that his outfit made him look like a Christmas tree covered in tinsel. Mulholland first got interested in being a clown thanks to a Halloween dance, where everyone dressed up in costume.

"At Towers department store, I found some interesting material on a remnants table in the curtain section. My wife, the seamstress, put it all together and she and I had matching costumes," he says.

The couple won first prize for their clown outfits. That original costume lasted until 1998 or 1999, he says.

"My wife is not as adventurous as I am. She only wore it the one time," he says, laughing as he adds, "So I had a backup costume."

Being a clown was a good fit for Mulholland, as he has "a bit of a sense of humour" and enjoys putting a smile on someone's face.

Towers Nightmare!
From RetroJunk:

I liked the Woolco at Centrepoint Mall (Toronto or immediately outside it on Yonge and Steeles). I have even warmer memories of the Towers department store at Jane Finch Mall (bought by Zellers in 1990). In the 80s it had all a kid could want. Got some of my first transformers there (I specifically recall getting Blaster and Blurr there). As a small boy (3, not more than 4), I was at this Towers and there was this little toy hen on wheels. That night or sometime after, I dreamed that it was nighttime and I saw the hen about as big as a car and wheeling down the mall's parking lot.

Bonimart Hypermarché now rubble

1974- Hypermarché- Oshawa Group wanted to create a Towers/Food City combined store in Laval. For about 3 years, this store did offer all. However, both sections were separated, and as Hypermarché did keep the name for the food section, the department store section was named Bonimart (however, after many changes later, the store is just now rubble...)

Walmart reminds me of Towers
From Wal*Mart Facebook page (October 5, 2009)

Walmart is so much better than Zellers. Wal-Mart stores are much cleaner, the staff is much more knowledgeable, and when the sales happen, they have everything in stock. Walmart reminds me of the old Towers Department Stores in a way.
NCR POS (Point of Sales) at Towers

GJH Enterprises Inc. started in South Western Ontario as an Electrical Services Contractor in 1984. Our specialty at the time was working on NCR Point of Sales systems for Towers Department Stores and Food City Grocery stores throughout South Western Ontario.
Kewel Site

"What a cool web site, i grew up in the famous jane&finch area back in 1972, worked at towers dept stores, and lived at 21 potsdam rd. always loved the jane&finch area but moved to nova scotia in 1984 when i married.(thanks for the memories)"

J/F Towers

"My children and I lived in the area in the early 1960's where there were still lots of open spaces, the J/F corner had Towers, a Dominion store and a few other stores in the mall, and it was a safe area to walk around at any time. My children went to Topcliff school, and then we lived up by Steeles Avenue where they were among the first children to attend an open concept school, and that was Shoreham Public."
A Towers Donkey Kong
October 2002 blog:

Start a new thread! Is it going to be another D&D thing? If you want it to be cool, have lots of dungeons. Running around big flat maps makes me stop playing the game very fast. Ideally it won't be same-old armour/swords/spells, but what else is there? I would love a horror RPG influenced by H.P. Lovecraft. There's a gold mine that nobody has ever successfully transmuted into a movie or computer game yet. Oh, I remember Donkey Kong on the Colecovision. Too bad I could only play it at the local Towers dept. store. That chain is dead, now, btw. How I wished for a Colecovision. That surely would have ruined me!
PJs? Really?
From a web page "Retail rants: The worst/weirdest customers in the world....." (posted May 13, 2003):

In regards to the person asking if you sold "toes"... I once had a woman from an Eastern European country asking about something that sounded like "pyjamas". This was when I worked at Towers Dept. store, so she could have been looking for anything.

Horney Stockboys
An entry in a 2008-11-18 blog:

"...and here's to Towers Dept. Store where I worked as a stockboy and the cashiers wore yellow mini dresses as short as a midget's crewcut and I went home with a boner after every shift!"

at Towers department store I saw a Rubik's cube
Mookie Wilson Blog, January 27, 2009

I miss it!!  One day, years ago, at Towers department store I saw a Rubik's cube on the shelf for $1.99, and I found my new love. I spent every last second with that multi coloured square... and enjoyed every second of it. Back in my day, there was no internet to go source out the pattern to solve it, so we relied on classroom chatter. All you do is 5 turns to the right, followed by 3 spins up, one left, another right and so on, and so on.


Remember how happy people were when they could do one side? High fives filled the hallways of every public school... but not ours. It was the day the school changed forever when I solved all 6 sides. From that day on, I got all the ladies! LOL I brought it to school one day after a long night at home twisting and turning, sweat pouring from my brow as I wanted to impress the two hotties at the time, Tara and Judy. 

I had a flashlight under my covers with me, so not to give away what I was doing into the wee hours of the morning. My parents would have killed me!! Then at about 5 that morning, I DID IT!! I solved the whole thing, and couldn't wait to show it off to my classmates. This was unbelievable, and unchartered territory for Fairfield Public School in Burlington. There was no way I could sleep then, so the 4 hours before school started was the longest wait of my life. For once.. I wanted to go to school! 

The kids at school didn't believe me. Soooo, I had to do it again. The pressure was on. Could I do it again? God, I hope so. This is my ticket to popularity and... the ladies! Not only did I do it, but I did it in about 20 minutes after school. Sighs everywhere, followed by some loud "Whatever's" from some of the Rat Pack. 

A few years later I brought a few cubes to St. Lucia to be used as currency. You could get whatever you want with little gems like these. What did I trade it for? Great big chunks of sugar cane. I was 15 at the time, and looking for a little rush. God was that good! You just sunk your teeth into it a little bit and got the juices. You couldn't eat it, as it had the consistency of cardboard or bamboo. 

But now to make a long story even longer... I miss my rubik's cube. I'm not sure I could even find one again, but I will be on the lookout. 


What do you miss? Mookie

Towers shopping cart washes up in

Maritimes winter storm 

An old busted TV, birthday balloons, a toilet seat, ancient action figures,

a child’s toy stethoscope and a 20-year-old shopping cart.

Here is a photo of the Towers shopping cart minus the wheels. I don't

have a photo of the family that found it, but spoke to them. 

The shopping cart was found in the sand on Maugers Beach on McNabs Island in Halifax Harbour. This is a popular beach so the shopping cart

must have washed up last winter during a storm. 

I googled your website and found out that Towers was taken over by Zellers in 1990 so we know that the shopping cart is nearly 20 years old. There was a Towers store in Bedford near Halifax. Perhaps that is where the shopping cart came from. 
barrie me not
Posted by spatherdab February 19, 2008 

barrie is so boring, there isn’t even a mall. all we have is mother’s pizza and towers department store. when i was in high school we didn’t even have a freakin’ mcdonald’s, just root beer and teenburgers at the dub; and it was all we could do to convince the waitresses at the crock & block to serve us draft beer in their frosted mugs, because we were only 16 but not bad enough girls to have fake I.D. MORE


The Bonimart story 
Current mood: happy, Wednesday, August 22, 2007, Category: Blogging (Facebook - Kaiser Von Doom)

Years ago, when I was around 4 or 5, there was a transformer that I have always wanted. His name was Kup, and he was my favourite character in the original 1986 Transformers movie. I was at Bonimart with my parents, (which is now Zellers in Chateauguay.) I don't remember what we were there for, but I saw the toy of Kup and I asked my parents if they could buy it for me. They told me "not now, next time." funny thing is; Bonimart went out of business before "next time" came around. I never saw the toy again in stores. All these years later I've still been wanting the toy, even though newer Transformers toys are better. I still wanted the old school toy that was denied to me as a kid. Now, after so many years later, I finally have the Transformer that has eluded me for 18 years. Even better is the fact that it still has the original box! (you can see it in my pics.) All I have to say is: it may not be as articulated as newer toys but this toy is bad ass and worth the money I paid for it. 
Save our signs of the times
Excerpt from The Expositor, February 2, 2008

The Expositor had a story last week about the Brant Museum and Archives wanting to save a fluorescent sign from the old Moody's strip club downtown. The sign isn't of the usual strip club sort. It shows the fashionably smart 1920s woman wearing a fashionable hat. 


Another sign that would look good on the museum's front wall, if anyone has one, would be a sign from an old Towers department store. Remember how the capital T in Towers resembled the Eiffel Tower? That was class. 

Rampant Nostalgia Alert!
1974. I'm 11 years old. It's a cool and cloudy Saturday afternoon. We're at the Towers department store in North Bay, Ontario. I've spent a lot of time and money in their rows of paperback racks, buying Mad magazine reprint books, Charlie Brown books, UFO and Chariots of the Gods-type stuff (I grew out of that within another year or two), and Star Trek books. So I'm looking through the SF books and -- hey! a Star Trek book I haven't seen before! 

It doesn't even look like the other ones! Wait, there are two of them here! Ballantine Books, not Bantam, Alan Dean Foster, not James Blish, but still based on episodes, according to the back cover. Are they an alternative version of the Blish books? Took me a minute to realize that the front covers were stills from the animated series I'd barely seen any of yet. (I don't like that sentence structure. "Any of yet." But I am possessed and writing at white heat and cannot stop to change it.).

The Bubble Gum Caper

From My Space
I stole Bubble Gum in Bonimart at 6 years old to know how it felt and I felt HORRIBLE! I still feel the shame!! 

Paraplegic comes a long way 
Al Ramji, whose father works at the Towers Warden and Finch store, is presented with $2,500 to purchase wheelchair, walker, and braces. (February 1982) 

Better paying jobs for women aim of

government program
Women's Equal  Opportunity in Employment division of the Ontario Ministry of Labour works with Towers, and other "blue-ribbon" employers, to help women get better jobs. (October 1977)

Towers gains a satisfied customer 
Towers customer wants to return a dress.  Head Office steps in. (August 1970) 

John Candy @ Towers?

Nick: "John Candy was a guy who worked at the Towers department store at Midland and Lawrence where I grew up in Scarborough!  I kid you not! "

Bonimart had THE best yarn

Alana: "Towers department stores in Atlantic Canada went out of business a number of years ago. They carried a brand of yarn carrying their name  and made by a company called Bonimart in Canada. This is the best Sayelle I've ever knit with and it washes like an old rag without any worries, and I can't find anymore that is both machine wash and machine dry. Does anyone know what name it is now being sold under, or where I can get some more. When Towers went under I bought a whole bunch, and it's almost gone. Failing that, can anyone recommend another Sayelle that is machine wash and machine dry and nice to knit with??"

"...thank you for shopping bonimart"

A 3/6/2007 post by nostra-YOUPPI!: 
Yeah a friend of mine worked at the one in chateauguay (bonimart post bill 101) it was a consumers distributing/bonimart/IGA (iga was owned by the same company as towers at the time oshawa group) there was one zellers didn't take in st hubert quebec, became a huge flea market and there still was a sign over the door saying "thank you for shopping bonimart".

canadian and quebecois chains that have equivalent stuff at competitive price

We "quebecois" like to pass protectionist laws and expect the government to protect our asses economically yet we don't give to shits about shopping at walmart for all our stuff, there are canadian and quebecois chains that have equivalent stuff at competitive price. Ie : zellers, tigre geant, geant des aubaines, hart. If we were so proud of our own enterprises oshawa group wouldn't have had to liquidate towers bonimart, The movie elvis gratton shows these qualities perfectly

janefinch_streetsign (1).jpg
rubics cube.jpg
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