According to Marketing Magazine (May 27, 2002), the flagship store of the Ailes de la Mode chain of department stores will open in Montreal on August 7, 2002. It will occupy the old Eaton’s store on rue Ste. Catherine at rue University. The acquisition, renovation, and preparation is costing $40 million.
The store will employ 1000 people (all bilingual), and will feature such luxuries as a concierge, free coat check, a Bell business center, and a shoe shine service. It will also feature a 49-seat “multifunctional” room for movies and (no kidding) Saturday morning karaoke events. There will also be an in-house Berlitz language school teaching English and Spanish (but apparently not French).
Other upscale shopping necessities include a lingerie fitting service, a vodka bar, a water bar, a sushi restaurant, and a so-called French café. The very hungry can contemplate their $30 socks while eating at the 140-seat “Mediterranean-style” restaurant.
The Ailes flagship will not fill the entire Eaton’s building. Before it closed, the 1.5 million square foot Eaton’s store was the second-largest department store in the world, behind Macy’s in New York. The space not filled by Les Ailes will be occupied by “selected” retailers, such as an Archambault music store (which will be the largest one in the chain) and yet another SAQ outlet.
The piece d’ resistance of the store will be an elegant staircase, modelled after the one at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, which is not only bombastically gorgeous, but is architecturally interesting in that it has no visible means of support. Les Ailes CEO Paul Delage Roberge anticipates it will become a major destination for wedding pictures. (While waiting for the photographer to set up the lights, the wedding party can get their lingerie fitted, or can get soused at the vodka bar.)
Unclear at this point is if they will get the permits for the planned specially-branded “Les Ailes” taxis (all of them PT Cruisers).
Me? I’ll stick with Schreter’s.