Mini Memories of Retail Stores, Au Bon Marche, Liberty Stores, Orientique, and Flash Cadilac 1976

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Mini Memories of Retail Stores, Au Bon Marche, Liberty Stores, Orientique, and Flash Cadilac 1976

David Ellis–Downtown Sherbrooke’s Au Bon Marche at the corners of King & Grandes-Fourches Streets in the 1960’s





Liberty stores in Ottawa came to Ottawa from the Eastern Townships in Quebec.

Another person I owe who I am today is the late Morty Vineberg from Au Bon Marche in Sherbrooke, Quebec. I learned the retail trade from the bottom up from him, and to this day, if there is a spot for just 50 items, and I have 300; I can whip that into shape as fast as you can say “bargain designer clothes”. In those days you took pride in your work, listened and worked hard, and you learned from those that knew.

How do you explain to kids today that’s how life was? You don’t– you had to be there.

 


Memories of Au Bon Marche in Sherbrooke. 1969? –This was an ad for the Sherbrooke Daily Record for Au Bon Marche..Me on the left and the other model on the right– my fellow friend and Au Bon Marche employee Pauline. Worked at Le Chateau and manager of The Knack in the store. Where do those years go? Miss my Sherbrooke years and Au Bon Marche. Cherish what you have today because they disappear..

1982 flood in Sherbrooke Quebec . Le Chateau was part of Au Bon Marche as you can see the Le Chateau sign on the building.

It was 1972, and I was being transferred from Au Bon Marche in Sherbrooke, Quebec to their new Liberty Stores in the old Bingo Palace just after the Cummings Bridge in Ottawa — which connected Rideau Street to Montreal Road in Vanier. The Vinebergs, who were the owners, were taking a big chance on opening that store as gossip said Ottawa people did not cross the bridge into Vanier.

1896 Cummings Bridge

The first wooden bridge over the Rideau River was constructed in 1836 by Charles Cummings, rebuilt in 1845, and replaced in 1890 – draws settlement to the area that will become Vanier. Many merchants and civil servants take advantage of the opportunity to move out of Ottawa’s Lowertown, already densely populated. Janeville is founded in 1873, followed by Clarkstown some 20 years later. In 1909, the Ontario government merges the two settlements with Clandeboye to form the village of Eastview.

And so I was transferred to the other side of the bridge and I lived at Pestalozzi College. read-I Lived in Pestalozzi College – Life in Ottawa 1972

1974

Liberty Stores Montreal Road Vanier

Liberty Stores 1974 – I think the gal’s name on the right was Brenda.I managed Le Knack

Liberty Stores 1974 – I think the gal’s name was Brenda.I managed Le Knack

CLIPPED FROM
The Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
02 Apr 1980, Wed  •  Page 79

CLIPPED FROM
The Ottawa Journal
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
29 Apr 1978, Sat  •  Page 9

I only worked there a few years. If remember correctly I left because there was just a lot going on at that store in Vanier and actually developed a bad case of retail anxiety.

Orientique

Six months later I was working for the Orientique Company as a merchandiser and was thrilled to be working with a great couple, Irwin and Wendy Kruger that had all these neat stores in Ottawa, Toronto and Windsor. As my friend Connie said: Crinkle cotton skirts, batik printed bohemian wrap around skirts and Jesus sandals! (soaking them in water to mold them to your feet and of course) and Tie Dye Shirts. The scent of Patchouli forever in my memory.

After that it was off to open Flash Cadilac on the second floor at Rideau and Dalhousie

Ready-Steady-Go! Dear Sheila- 1976

Dear Sheila,

I am about to open within the next two weeks, hopefully. I have had a lot of issues getting a Vendor Permit because the landlord was doing renovations in another part of the building without a building permit. So Ange got mad, and that is all it took, and we are about to open. We also had to file for a Health Permit because I am selling recycled clothes. Yes, they have to check the cleanliness of your washroom to be able to sell anything that is not new. I am so excited, we have a 9:30 am appointment with the Mary Quant cosmetic rep tomorrow.

You remember how I used to wear her makeup all the time in Montreal when I worked in Le Chateau years ago. I still remember the day she was at the Oglivy store on Ste. Catherine Street and I shook her hand. I think it was even better than when I grabbed Paul McCartney’s hand in Seattle!I was telling Ange that we have set it up just like Biba was like in London, but I will never be a Biba!

I have just added a huge Japanese-style round table with seating pillows in front of the change room. This is what have so far:

Ray Straight-Leg Jeans

Old Fur Coats

Recycled Dresses

Cozy Sweaters

Scarves

Jewelery

Russian Flowered Shawls with Fringe

Gauze Embroidered Tops

Stockings

Hanes Hosiery

Make-Up

Recycled Suede Purses and Vests

Ballet Shoes

Mary Jane Chinese Shoes

Ballet Leotards and Tights

Japanese Fans

Paper Wallets

Feather Boas

Fur Boas I make out of Fox Tails

Cigarette Holders

Ladies Pipes

I would love to carry Laura Ashley too, but, wonder if it would go with the things I have. My dream is to go to San Francisco and touch Gunne Sax clothes designed by Jessica McClintock! I am going to put a dancing girl (with clothes on of course) in the window Thursday and Friday night to draw attention. Randy, the hairdresser has offered, but I think I will pass.

If you didn’t know Randy the hairdresser acrossthe hall that was another story LOLOL

Driving into Rideau Street

The early 1970s was a cruel time for Ottawa’s locally-owned department stores. Familiar companies, which had serviced Ottawa residents for generations, seemed to fall like nine pins, replaced by national chain stores. Freiman’s on Rideau Street was bought out by The Hudson Bay Company. Murphy-Gamble’s, the grand old lady of Sparks Street, became a Simpsons. Meanwhile Eaton’s moved into the Ottawa market, launching an anchor store in the new Bayshore Shopping Centre in Nepean. But perhaps no loss was felt as badly as the closure of Larocque’s, the Lowertown emporium that catered primarily to Ottawa’s francophone community. On 11 September 1971, the Ottawa Journal revealed that the venerable store, a fixture at the corner of Rideau and Dalhousie Streets for more than fifty years, would be closing its doors for good at the end of the year. Staff had already been given their notices. It was the end of an era. Read more here click

Hidden Creeks, the Bywash and Sinkholes

Documenting Mr.and Mrs. William Fest Transportation Building or—I Want Candy

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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