Towers Department Stores

Towers, operating as Bonimart in Quebec, was a Canadian discount department store chain owned by the Oshawa Group, a now-defunct grocery retailer and distributor. [1]

IndustryDiscount department store
FateConverted to the Zellers name
Founded1960 (as US-based chain)
1963 as Allied Towers Merchants Limited
ParentAllied Towers Merchants Limited 1963-1967
Oshawa Group 1967-1991


Towers Marts began as a New York-based chain. The first Canadian store was opened in November 1960 in Scarborough, Toronto (at the corner of Lawrence Ave. East and Midland Ave.).[2] After the chain went bankrupt in 1963, a group of Towers concessionaires, incorporated as Allied Towers Merchants Ltd., purchased the 13 Canadian stores and began operating as a Canada-only chain.[3]

In Quebec, the chain traded as Towers in the 1960s but the name was changed to Bonimart in April 20, 1971, starting with the stores in the Greater Montreal, as part of a program by owner Oshawa Group to promote the French character among its subsidiaries in the province.[4][5][6]

Each selling department within a Towers store was operated as a licensed concession. Some Towers/Bonimart stores offered services such as restaurants, photo labs, and pharmacies within the store. Some stores were also paired with an IGA or Food City grocery store.

On October 22, 1990, Towers/Bonimart's 51 stores were purchased by Hudson's Bay Company which intended to merge them with its Zellers subsidiary.[7] The transaction was met with strong opposition from the New York-based F. W. Woolworth Company (owner of the Woolco stores in Canada) which also wanted to purchase the chain.[7]

On April 15, 1991, 46 of the Towers/Bonimart stores were rebranded into the Zellers banner.[8] The remaining stores held closeout sales under their original name, some of them lasting until the fall of 1991. While ownership to the Towers name is unclear, the Bonimart trademark is the property of Sobeys, the successor of the Oshawa Group.[9]


  • "At Towers everything connects - the last day of one sale is the first of the next".
  • "Extra Special For Your Family--Towers."
  • "You made us part of your family at Towers."
  • "Towers. Your family's extra special store."
  • "At Towers, we've got the right idea!"


Towers' mascot was an animated squirrel named Sparky. At the time of the Zellers buyout, print ads featured Sparky arm-in-arm with Zellers' bear mascot, Zeddy.


Greater Toronto Area

See also

  • List of Canadian department stores


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