Commentary Feature

I Get Why You Canadians Love Marshalls Now

Marshalls' grand opening in Fredericton. Image: Diana Chavez/Huddle Today

FREDERICTON – The cloudy and cold Tuesday morning didn’t stop Frederictonians from lining up outside of the new Marshalls in Uptown Centre hoping to be one of the first few customers that would get a gift card.

The line up went around the store’s corner, said the security guard in the entrance after giving me a smile followed by a “welcome to Marshalls.”

I, an international student who has been in Canada for only two years, had never been to a Marshalls before. I went inside the store not knowing what to expect – I had heard mixed opinions from “I found $120 Guess boots for $20” to “it’s just the American version of Winners.”

As soon as I walked into the store, I bumped into the shoe section. It was crowded, but I made it to the accessories section.

Oh, my – I stayed for at least 10 minutes contemplating different purse designs and comparing prices between brands (and fighting with the logical side of my brain that wanted to save money).

A $50 Guess cute backpack? Doesn’t seem too bad, considering that above the price it read, “compare to $120.”

I see what you’re doing, Marshalls.

The grey Guess backpack in question. Image: Diana Chavez/Huddle Today

As I kept walking through the store, I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a couple of conversations.

“I’m coming back after work,” said a young woman to another in the home section.

“I need this doll! I need it!” cried a child around eight years old to her grandmother as they were leaving the toy section.

I stopped to look at planners and decorative pillows. Then to the make-up section, where I couldn’t believe I could buy an Urban Decay NAKED eyeshadow palette for only $20. Moreover, I couldn’t believe that 169 people – according to one of the salespeople – entered through those doors at 8 a.m.

I found potential Christmas gifts for family members and friends in my first half-hour at the store. That’s when I realized it: at Marshalls, you can find anything for anybody – including a Spiderman cologne for my younger brother and a dog bowl that read “Rescued” for my rescued dog – and that’s part of its magic. There will always be something that catches your eye, and you don’t feel too bad about buying it because you’re trapped in the illusion that you’re saving money while purchasing brand-name products.

Finally, I navigated the deep and crowded waters of the women’s clothing section. As I had expected, all the name tags read the same: “made in” Bangladesh, Vietnam or China.” For a moment, I couldn’t help but wonder if the people shopping around me also reflected – at least for a millisecond – on how these clothes are made and how privileged they are for being on the better end of the tail.

Yet even after all these thoughts, I found my feet dragging me to the accessories section again. Back to that Guess backpack.

Did I need it? Probably not.

Could I live without it? Most likely.

But I still ended up admiring it for 10 minutes more. I managed to resist the temptation, knowing that most of the customers around me could not.