Wise Stores was a department store chain located in Eastern Canada. It was founded in 1930 in Montreal by Alex Wise[1] and constituted on March 31, 1949, as Wise Stores inc.[2] It expanded outside of Quebec by opening its first stores in the Maritimes provinces in 1986 and eventually Ontario in 1988.[3]

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

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.[4] Because of this restriction, Peoples was instead operated as a subsidiary of Wise.[5]

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.[6] Wise launched in June 1993 the chain Wizmart, a wholesale concept specialized in the sales of good derived from bankruptcies and closings.[7] At its peak, the company operated five divisions: Wise Stores inc. (48 stores), Peoples Stores inc. (178 stores), Wizmart, KLHR Liquidation, and NRMA.[8]

In 1994, the company shuttered 13 underperforming Wise and Wizmart stores.[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 ScotiaEdit

New BrunswickEdit



  1. ^ a b "Supreme Court of Canada - SCC Case Information - Search". January 2001.
  2. ^ "Gazette officielle du Québec". Government of Quebec. p. 35.
  3. ^ "Wise s'étend hors Québec". La Presse. Montreal. 10 December 1986. p. D4.
  4. ^ "Les dirigeants n'ont pas à tenir compte des intérêts de leurs créanciers". La Presse. Montreal. 30 October 2004. p. 6.
  5. ^ "Our Publications | Law Firm in Montreal".
  6. ^ "Hart, Greenberg, Wise and Peoples Discount department stores face markets squeeze". The Record. 29 May 1989. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Whizbang expansion; Wizmart joins stable of banners run by Wise Stores". Montreal Gazette. Montreal. June 30, 1993. p. F1.
  8. ^ "Inauguration de Wizmart". Le Soleil. Quebec City. 17 June 1993. p. B10.
  9. ^ Wise Stores Inc closes 13 stores.
  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 alsoEdit

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