No Frills to launch online Hauler-branded clothing shop

By Aleksandra Sagan, The Canadian Press

Discount grocer No Frills will launch a new clothing line dubbed “Hauler” in a celebration of savvy, frugal shoppers on Monday.

The Loblaw Companies Ltd.-owned grocery brand is the latest retailer to offer limited-edition items for die-hard brand fans, following in the footsteps of McDonald’s onesies in a Big Mac burger print, Kentucky Fried Chicken pillow cases bearing Colonel Sanders’s face and Taco Bell bodysuits, saying things like “born saucy.”

The Hauler brand is a nod to how No Frills views its customers: individuals smart enough to know healthy, fresh food doesn’t have to cost more.

“It’s a cool way of celebrating these customers, and doing it with this No Frills swagger,” said Mary MacIssac, vice-president of marketing for Loblaw’s discount division.

There wasn’t a formal plan to create a clothing line, she said, but it was born from customers’ loyalty to their local No Frills shops and excitement around previous No Frills branded swag. The company has handed out boxers, scarves and other items during prior marketing events.

“They’re kind of wearing this as a badge of honour,” said MacIssac, adding the company picked up on this enthusiasm and started working hard to make the clothes available to its fans.

The Hauler Shop will start accepting online orders for two T-shirts on Monday, with a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt in stock soon, and more items likely to appear later. A reusable yellow Hauler bag will also be available in limited quantities at the roughly 250 No Frills stores in Canada.

While no prices are visible yet on the website, MacIssac said the items won’t be priced to make a profit and the company hopes to break even on them.

The online shop is part of a broader marketing campaign for the discount grocer, including a music video and original song. The chain’s been anonymously hyping the launch on social media, with a Hauler Instagram account that first posted in late April.

The publicity led to speculation about who is behind the label, with many guessing No Frills based on the yellow-and-black colour scheme, font and other clues scattered in posts.

Not everyone seemed happy about the apparent connection between the clothing and the grocer.

Parkdale Life, a blog about one of Toronto’s neighbourhoods, expressed some displeasure via its Instagram account, implying No Frills may be trying a bit too hard.

“No Frills, beloved, what is you doing,” it wrote in response to a post from the Haulhard Instagram account. “You were cool already just being you.”

About a year ago, Parkdale Life created and sold a number of T-shirts to mark the reopening of the neighbourhood’s local No Frills. It donated the proceeds to a food bank.

No Frills loves Parkdale Life, MacIssac said, though stopped short of addressing the group’s criticism.

The shop responds to what the chain’s customers are asking for, she said.

“This isn’t a corporate initiative where we’re pushing clothing out there. This is honestly, sincerely us responding to hundreds of thousands of asks to make some of this available.”

The clothes are limited quantity, she said, and the company will base any future plans on what customers may ask for.


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