One man’s loving tribute to Zellers

We’re honestly not even sure how to categorize this “music video” from Canadian content creator Stewart Reynolds (AKA Brittlestar).

It may have been conceived as nothing more than a simple time-waster—and to be honest, that’s why we’re sharing it here on a Friday afternoon—but it’s also a perfect encapsulation of the power of nostalgia and branding, and a pointed rebuke of Canadians’ tendency to elevate America’s cultural exports, no matter how mediocre, at the expense of their homegrown equivalent.

“I think all comedy has some social commentary at its core,” said Reynolds in a note to The Message. “That said, I just wanted to create something that was a complete distraction from our current scene. A reminder of when we were upset about much more trivial things… like department stores.”

Essentially an ode to Zellers—which didn’t officially cease operating in Canada until January —Reynolds sings about the discount retailer’s closure and the ill-fated arrival of American retailer Target in 2013.

Reynolds said that the video, called “Moving Target,” was mostly inspired by our culture’s seemingly boundless appetite for nostalgia. “Plus,” he adds, “it’s super funny that we remember Zellers so fondly, despite the reality.”

Assembled over five days, “Moving Target” begins as a near note-perfect recreation of a 1980s music video, the screen covered in a Zellers-red film as Reynolds pulls up outside an empty storefront bearing the vestigial remains of both Zellers and Target signs. In reality, the Stratford, Ont. store is now a Michael’s Craft Store, with Reynolds adding the sign outlines in post-production.

The three-minute video goes on to reference key hallmarks of the Zellers brand, from teddy bear mascot Zeddy, to its longstanding slogan “Where the lowest price is the law,” and its proprietary clothing brand, Cherokee.

He laments how the closure both Zellers and Target left customers with few shopping options for things like a decent shirt. “I mean, sure Giant Tiger’s an option but…it’s not the same,” he sings over a mournful chord, while performing dance moves that will be familiar to anyone who grew up during the early days of MuchMusic. 

“I’m so sorry, Zellers. I’m so sorry,” he says as the song comes to an end. “I guess the lowest price was my love.”

Chris Powell