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][3] It expanded outside of Quebec by opening its first stores in the Maritimes provinces in 1986 and eventually Ontario in 1988.[4]

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][5] 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.[6] Because of this restriction, Peoples was instead operated as a subsidiary of Wise.[7]

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.[8] Wise created in June 1993 a larger liquidation stores chain under the banner Wizmart.[9] At its peak, the company operated five divisions: Wise Stores inc. (48 stores), Peoples Stores inc. (178 stores), Wizmart, KLHR Liquidation, and NRMA.[10]

In 1994, the company shuttered 13 underperforming Wise and Wizmart stores.[11]

Peoples declared bankruptcy on January 13, 1995 while Wise avoided it but would still get liquidated anyway.[5] Wise eventually went bankrupt too on January 31, 1995.[2] 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. 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.[12][13] Its founder Alex Wise was with the company for practically its whole existence and was still president in 1994 though he was retired by the time it went bankrupt in 1995.[14][15][16] He died on January 12, 2004 at the age of 97 and one of his three sons who presided the company with him, Ralph, died on October 21, 2015.[17][18]

32 of Wise and Peoples's vacated spaces became Hart Stores in August 1995, a department store chain with a similar concept.[19] 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, but also stores from its other banners such as Red Apple and Greenberg.[20]

Peoples logo



Nova ScotiaEdit

New BrunswickEdit



  1. ^ a b "Supreme Court of Canada - SCC Case Information - Search". January 2001.
  2. ^ a b "Wise en faillite". La Presse. Montreal. 1 February 1995. p. D5.
  3. ^ "Gazette officielle du Québec". Government of Quebec. p. 35.
  4. ^ "Wise s'étend hors Québec". La Presse. Montreal. 10 December 1986. p. D4.
  5. ^ a b "Peoples fait faillite; Wîse l'évite mais sera tout de même liquidée". La Presse. Montreal. 15 January 1995. p. F3.
  6. ^ "Les dirigeants n'ont pas à tenir compte des intérêts de leurs créanciers". La Presse. Montreal. 30 October 2004. p. 6.
  7. ^ "Our Publications | Law Firm in Montreal".
  8. ^ "Hart, Greenberg, Wise and Peoples Discount department stores face markets squeeze". The Record. 29 May 1989. p. 5.
  9. ^ "NOUVELLE BANNIÈRE POUR WISE". Le Devoir. Montreal. 17 June 1993. p. A5.
  10. ^ "Inauguration de Wizmart". Le Soleil. Quebec City. 17 June 1993. p. B10.
  11. ^ Wise Stores Inc closes 13 stores.
  12. ^ "Phone directory (1931-1932)". Lovell. p. 542. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  13. ^ "Phone directory (1995)". Lovell. p. 1372. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  14. ^ "Ralentissement chez WISE". La Presse. Montreal. 25 June 1994. p. A17.
  15. ^ "Wise en faillite". Le Soleil. Quebec City. 2 January 1995. p. B6.
  16. ^ "Wise serait-il à l'abri de la récession". La Presse. Montreal. 20 June 1991. p. D3.
  17. ^ https://montrealgazette.remembering.ca/obituary/alex-wise-1066565170
  18. ^ https://montrealgazette.remembering.ca/obituary/ralph-wise-1066565275
  19. ^ https://www.ledevoir.com/economie/actualites-economiques/122137/portrait-hart-au-coeur-des-meres-de-famille
  20. ^ "Les ex-magasins Wise et People revivront sous la bannière de Métropolitain". Le Devoir. Montreal. 4 August 1995. p. A4.

See alsoEdit

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