Wise Stores was a department store chain located in Eastern Canada. It was founded in 1930 in Montreal by Alex Wise.[1]

Wise Stores inc.
IndustryDepartment store
FounderAlex Wise
HeadquartersMontreal, Quebec, Canada

By October 1988, the company had 28 stores and acquired 15 Continental outlets in eastern Quebec, New Brunswick and Ontario to bring to 43 the total number of Wise locations.[2]

In 1992, the company acquired the even longer running and competitor Peoples department stores from British retailer Marks & Spencer.[1] Under the terms of the purchase, the Wise and Peoples chains could not completely merge until the outstanding balance owed to Marks & Spencer for the transaction had completely been paid in full.[3] Because of this restriction, Peoples was instead operated as a subsidiary of Wise.[4]

Wise was basically a discount department retailer with store dimensions averaging those of Hart, Greenberg and Peoples; in contrast to the larger-sized Zellers, Woolco and Kmart.[5] Wise launched in June 1993 the chain Wizmart, a wholesale concept specialized in the sales of good derived from bankruptcies and closings.[6] At its peak, the company operated five divisions: Wise Stores inc. (48 stores), Peoples Stores inc. (178 stores), Wizmart, KLHR Liquidation, and NRMA.[7]

On December 15, 1994, the company announced the shuttering of 13 Wise and Wizmart stores.[8] The announcement would leave the Wizmart division with only location.[9]

Peoples declared bankruptcy on January 13, 1995, while Wise avoided it but would still get liquidated anyway.[10] Wise eventually went bankrupt too on January 31, 1995.[11] Wise's incapacity of paying the amount it owed Marks & Spencer for the Peoples acquisition was the main reason for the demise of both chains. There were 53 Wise and 73 Peoples stores in operation at bankruptcy.[10][12] The original Wise store, located on 6751 St-Hubert street in the La Petite-Patrie neighbourhood, operated throughout the entire 65 years of the company.[13][14] Its founder Alex Wise was still chairman of the company as late as December 1994.[15] He died on January 12, 2004, at the age of 97,[16] and one of his three sons who presided the company with him, Ralph, died on October 21, 2015.[17]

29 of Wise and Peoples's vacated spaces became Hart Stores in August 1995.[18] Another 27 former locations of Wise/Peoples were acquired also in August 1995 by Winnipeg-based Gendis which used them to open mainly new Metropolitan Stores and to a lesser extend stores from its other banners such as Red Apple and Greenberg.[19] Six other stores (all Wise locations) had already been sold in March 1995 to Rossy by the liquidator in charge of disposing the bankrupt retail chain.[20]

Peoples logo





Nova Scotia


New Brunswick





  1. ^ a b "Supreme Court of Canada - SCC Case Information - Search". January 2001.
  2. ^ "Wise buys 15 stores from Continental". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. October 15, 1988. p. F3.
  3. ^ "Les dirigeants n'ont pas à tenir compte des intérêts de leurs créanciers". La Presse. Montreal. 30 October 2004. p. 6.
  4. ^ "Our Publications | Law Firm in Montreal". Archived from the original on 2019-12-08.
  5. ^ "Hart, Greenberg, Wise and Peoples Discount department stores face markets squeeze". The Record. 29 May 1989. p. 5.
  6. ^ "Wizmart joins stable of banners run by Wise Stores". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 30, 1993. p. F1.
  7. ^ "Inauguration de Wizmart". Le Soleil. Quebec City. 17 June 1993. p. B10.
  8. ^ "Wise closing 13 of its 53 stores". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. December 16, 1994. p. D1.
  9. ^ "Wise closing 13 of its 53 stores". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. December 16, 1994. p. D2.
  10. ^ a b "Peoples chain goes bankrupt". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. January 14, 1995. p. D1.
  11. ^ "Creditors pull the plug on Wise". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. February 1, 1995. p. E4.
  12. ^ "Peoples placed in bankruptcy: Marks & Spencer prompts move". Globe and Mail. Toronto. January 14, 1995. p. B3.
  13. ^ "Phone directory (1931-1932)". Lovell. p. 542. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  14. ^ "Phone directory (1995)". Lovell. p. 1372. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  15. ^ "Wise trying to restructure debt Retailer still open for business after seeking protection from creditors". Globe and Mail. Toronto. December 13, 1994. p. B10.
  16. ^ "Remembering the life of Alex WISE".
  17. ^ "Remembering the life of Ralph WISE".
  18. ^ "Who's afraid of Wal-Mart?; Not Harry Hart - he's itching to compete". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 16, 1995. p. C1.
  19. ^ "Winnipeg firm to open 16 outlets in ex-Wise, People's stores in Quebe". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. August 4, 1995. p. D8.
  20. ^ "Liquidator sells six Wise stores to Rossy". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. March 18, 1995. p. C3.

See also


Peoples Department Stores Inc. (Trustee of) v. Wise