If you thought national politics are a heated topic, wait until you hear about the great Canadian department store war.
American-favorite Target famously pulled out of the Great White North in 2015 after a massive, incredible, and downright spectacular failure to accommodate the local clientele, but they weren’t the first to go. It all began in the 1850s, when a mister Robert Simpson founded The Robert Simpson Company to sell dry goods in good ol’ Newmarket, Ontario – exciting, I know. After a fire forced him to relocate to Toronto (where he promptly died – poor guy just couldn’t catch a break), his wife sold the company to a trio of businessmen who turned it into the city’s top department store. It even held a renowned restaurant called Arcadian Court, which later gave birth to the Arcadian Loft where I met Dave Lackie in October. In 1952 the company joined forces with American mid-market suburban retailer Sears, Roebuck and Company to create Simpsons-Sears Limited, a $40 million project to expand The Robert Simpson Company’s mail order business and replicate the American Sears format across the nation. The catch was that it couldn’t open stores in Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Regina and London (in other words, the country’s most substantial markets) since Simpson already had successful standalone retail locations there. So they opened the first Simpsons-Sears store in Stratford on September 17th, 1953, at precisely 9:15 AM (it was a Thursday), and things took off.
Meanwhile, The Hundson’s Bay Company was slowly creeping along, a living fossil based on Canada’s primordial fur trade in the 17th century. They’d been expanding their general merchandise posts steadily, and had their eyes on the big cities, as well. To keep ahead of the competition, Simpson stepped aside to allow a strictly Sears branded store to open in Mississauga in 1972, just 30 km from Toronto’s recently renamed Simpsons operation. All was well until 1978, when The Bay purchased Simpsons and folded it into the HBC brand. Simpsons-Sears Limited became Sears Canada the same year Zellers accidentally sold itself to The Bay, too. That year was like a giant high school reunion party for department stores where everyone except the old student council president and ex-football captain died – classy, right? The moral of the story is that the top players remained, and Sears is indeed alive and kicking in 2016. They’ve got a great selection of fashion, home furniture, and of course beauty and fragrance. From Biotherm to Clinique, Shiseido to Lancôme, they’ve got something for everyone.
Today I want to take a look at some of their best picks for this winter season, starring Clarins, Clinique, and Estée Lauder. These are companies with histories nearly as rich as Sears itself, to be explored another day. First I want to tell you about the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum ($75-108*) – seriously, this stuff is magical. When I visited the EL Brands Warehouse Sale in December (see Instagram) the lineup to get a bottle extended about half the exhibition room. Using exclusive technology, this weightless serum works while you sleep to intensely hydrate skin and reduce every key visible sign of aging: fine lines, wrinkles, puffiness, dark circles, dryness and uneven skin tone. The application is awesome, too: apply a drop to each finger on one hand, tap both hands together, and massage onto skin from the center, outward. The routine comes complete with a rich gel crème and eye serum ($65 and $75*). For winter skin that needs extra love, the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm ($50*) instantly moisturizes, brightens, and tightens the contours of the face so you can look more like Kim K. It also works as an “energy mask” and makeup primer – talk about multitasking! With rice starch, olive leaf extract, witch hazel leaf extract and algae extract this product is the brand’s bestselling booster.
For help with this red-hot Clarins Joli Rouge lipstick ($27*) in shade #742 I enlisted Toronto-based makeup artist Angela Lee. Of the beautiful berry red bullet she says: “It was very hydrating to my lips, even the way it went on was very smooth and hydrating. The scent was so lovely, too! It was fruity and sweet just like Jolly Rancher candy. It’s long lasting, and it also stains your lips (slightly). However, because the texture is so creamy, for mature skin I would recommend pairing it with a lip liner or lip primer because it might bleed into the lines around the lips. Overall, I really like this lipstick!”
Luckily we had Clinique’s Quickliner for Lips Intense ($20*) on hand in Intense Jam to do the trick. Something I don’t like about it is it won’t retract if you twist too high, but the sharpener-free, silky formula is a no-brainer. What do you think of Angela’s makeup look using the lippies? Let me know what beauty and makeup items you’re loving from Sears this season, and what you have your eyes on! Who knows, we might just host a giveaway… Thanks to Stephanie for organizing this fun review!
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