Tuesday December 8, 2020 Smile of the Day: T. Eaton Co

On this Day:

Timothy Eaton founds T. Eaton Co. Limited in Toronto, Canada.  The T. Eaton Company Limited, commonly known as Eaton’s, was a Canadian department store chain that was once Canada’s largest. It was founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton, an immigrant from what is now Northern Ireland. Eaton’s grew to become a retail and social institution in Canada, with stores across the country, buying-offices around the globe, and a mail-order catalog that was found in the homes of most Canadians. A changing economic and retail environment in the late 1900s, along with mismanagement, culminated in the chain’s bankruptcy in 1999.

Eaton’s pioneered several retail innovations. In an era when haggling for goods was the norm, the chain proclaimed “We propose to sell our goods for CASH ONLY – In selling goods, to have only one price.” In addition, it had the long-standing slogan “Goods Satisfactory or Money Refunded.”

At the beginning of the 20th century, Eaton’s conducted a large business in Western Canada through its catalogue. Eaton’s considered Winnipeg, Manitoba, as the most logical location for a new mail order warehouse to better serve its western customers. A store was not originally part of the plans.

John Craig Eaton, the son of Timothy Eaton, became an early proponent of building a combined store and mail order operation in Winnipeg. Although Timothy Eaton initially had misgivings over the difficulties involved in managing a store 2,100 kilometres (1,300 mi) from Toronto, John Craig was eventually able to convince his father. Eaton’s acquired a city block on Portage Avenue at Donald Street, and the five-storey Eaton’s store opened to much fanfare on July 15, 1905.

Timothy Eaton and his family were on hand for the opening of the second Eaton’s store, with the Winnipeg Daily Tribune [Ed: “The Trib”, as it was known, was the competitor to The Winnipeg Free Press] noting in its front-page headline: “The Canadian Napoleon of Retail Commerce Reaches the Capital – Views His Great Store for First Time – Well Pleased”.

The landmark red brick store, known as “the Big Store” to Winnipeggers, [Ed: I always heard it referred to as simply “Eatons” when I was growing up in Winnipeg] was a success. The initial staff of 750 grew to 1,200 within a few weeks of the opening.

By 1910, three more storeys were added to the store and other buildings were constructed. By 1919, the Eaton’s operations in Winnipeg covered 21 acres (85,000 m2) and employed 8,000 people.

For many years, the Winnipeg Eaton’s store was considered the most successful department store in the world, given how it dominated its local market. As late as the 1960s, Canadian Magazine estimated that Winnipeggers spent more than 50 cents of every shopping dollar (excluding groceries) at Eaton’s, and that on a busy day, one out of every ten Winnipeggers would visit the Portage Avenue store (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

When a department store Santa loses his job, does he get the sack?

Second, a Song:

There are a few things that you couldn’t buy at Eaton’s Department Store. “Can’t Buy Me Love” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles that was released in March 1964 as the A-side of their sixth single. It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. The song was also included on the group’s album A Hard Day’s Night and was featured in a scene in Richard Lester’s film of the same name.

The single topped charts in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden. In the UK, it was the fourth highest selling single of the 1960s.

“Can’t Buy Me Love” was released as a single, backed by John Lennon’s song “You Can’t Do That”. The release took place on 16 March 1964 in the United States and four days later in the United Kingdom. In the US, “Can’t Buy Me Love” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for five weeks. With the success of the song, the Beatles established four records on the Hot 100.

When “Can’t Buy Me Love” reached number 1, on 4 April 1964, the Beatles held the entire top five on the Hot 100, the next positions being filled by “Twist and Shout”, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please Please Me”, respectively. No other act has held the top five spots simultaneously. During its second week at number 1, the Beatles had fourteen songs on the Hot 100 at the same time.In the UK, “Can’t Buy Me Love” became the Beatles’ fourth number 1 and their third single to sell over a million copies. By November 2012, it had sold 1.53 million copies there (per Wikipedia). 

Unfortunately, today also happens to be the anniversary of John Lennon’s passing.  Here is Paul McCartney performing Can’t Buy Me Love July 4, 2010 in Red Square, Moscow.  

I hope you enjoy it!


Thought for the Day:

“Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.” – John Lennon


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2020 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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