Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

One Word Photo Challenge: Eggplant

 Eggplant-coloured minerals first and then it’s story time!



Stichtite from  South Africa

3.0 x 2.6 x 0.7 cm

Eggplant, eh? I immediately thought of the more elegant French variation “aubergine”. If you are Canadian you may understand that my next thought was “Eaton’s”.

In my late 20’s I worked for Eaton’s. It was a great part-time job. Within walking distance of home and the employee discounts were awesome. Too bad I was scared sh*tless of facing the customers who came to pay their bills. Most were pleasant enough, but at least once a day someone would vent their displeasure about the amount owing on their accounts.

I was also a bit scared of the manager of the customer service department. She scolded me when my handwriting was not clear enough. She had to stay late to balance the tills because my “7” looked like a “1”. Oops. 😦

In 1999 the iconic Eaton’s department store declared bankruptcy. Sears acquired the assets and in 2000 devised a campaign to rebrand the shopping experience centered on the colour aubergine.  Judging by the video shown below, Sears obviously sunk a boatload of cash into the venture. Apparently the world wasn’t ready for the purple known as aubergine. The rebranding efforts failed and in 2002 any remaining Eaton’s stores were converted to Sears. [NB If you were in the US, you wouldn’t have seen the ads, unless you watched a Canadian channel like CBC or CTV.]

I remember seeing these TV ads. They were created in the style of 1940’s and 1950’s musicals and romantic comedies that might have starred Debbie Reynolds or Cary Grant. The One and I used to poke fun at them. If we saw something purple… em, excuse me “aubergine” we’d adopt a snooty tone and exclaim, “Aubergeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!” So often in fact, the sound was imprinted in my synapses. Even today, if I hear the call of the Red-wing Blackbird, I hear him calling for eggplant.


Inspired by Jennifer Nichole Wells One Word Photo Challenge

Categories: Mineral Collecting, Work, work, work

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. Isn’t that funny? – I remember Eaton’s going bankrupt (there’s a multitude of sad stories in there) but I don’t remember the experiment in Aubergine stores. hmmm – I did however have an aubergine leather couch once. It was a beauty – just like the stone that graces the opening of your post 🙂


    • Really? I wrote this with you in mind, figuring you’d relate! LOL Isn’t that interesting, Joanne, that the campaign didn’t hit your radar. I suppose I was more aware of Eaton’s since I was a past employee. Then too, at the time I was living in London and as I understand, London is used as a test market. Perhaps media efforts were limited to our region?


  2. That’s pretty awesome. Next time I hear the red-winged blackbird, I’ll think on that. I can’t believe they had a four-minute ad! I can’t remember an Eaton’s. Perhaps we don’t have them here? Sears, tho, is ubiquitous.
    My dining room was once aubergine. I loved it. People loved it. But no one thinks it’s going to look good when you tell them your dining room is aubergine. Much like no one thinks “cantaloupe slice” will look nice in Moo’s room, until they see it.
    I look great in aubergine. I’d like to see it more often!


    • Hey Joey, glad you think so! The ad played in segments, usually, but on occasion you’d get the whole enchilada. After the “big reveal” they played the big dance number only.

      Eaton’s was solely a Canadian concern. My hubby was telling me the other day that Sears parent company in the US is considering selling it’s majority stake in Sears Canada.

      Aubergine is a rich luscious colour. I love it in velvet, and Joanne up there ^^^ talks about a leather couch. Makes my mouth water just imagining it.

      I had a sunroom done in cantaloupe. It’s a beautiful colour.

      Thanks for stopping in!


  3. This is so funny. Thanks for sharing. I honestly don’t even remember this campaign. But I guess you’re right, the world just wasn’t ready to be painted aubergine 😉 Also, beautiful mineral. How many rocks would you say you’ve shot over the years?


    • Thanks, Jennifer. I’m glad you think so! If you were in the US, you wouldn’t have seen it, unless you watched a Canadian channel like CBC or CTV. I should probably edit the story to reflect that.

      Interesting you should ask about the number of rocks. Probably around 3500.

      Just yesterday I was looking at my profile on Mindat and, stats addict that I am, was delighted to see that out of 2000 registered users of the site, I rank 13th with about 6200 photo uploads. That’s not counting all of the shots I’ve taken for selling our rocks on eBay and e-Rocks. So, I’d say close to 7500. Give or take. Remember Malcolm Gladwell and his Outliers book? It takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at something. Well, if it takes 5 minutes to pose and shoot a specimen, another 10 to upload, edit and format the picture, that’s 15 minutes x 7500 shots = 1875 hours.

      I’ll never make it.



  4. Reblogged this on Elen Grey and commented:
    I’m reblogging this today, because I want everyone in the land to see epic video — Aubergine. It was a sad day, indeed, when Eaton’s Department Store went bankrupt.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie Wilson’s post. Click on over and check out her blog.

    Thanks for posting this, Maggie!


  5. Congratulations, Maggie. You wrote an epistolary on aubergine 🙂 we have red-winged blackbirds here. I’m going to listen closely to their song!


  6. Isn’t it funny the different names for colors? Purple is Eggplant is Aubergine. You and The One had it right–you have to say it snooty! 🙂 I remember once in school, the instructor was calling on the girl in the cerise dress. Well, who in the heck was wearing cerise? We all looked around to see who she was talking about. Me? You mean me? Hell, I thought my dress was dark pink.


    • Yeah! Chartreuse is another. I bet you that I have never, up until this moment, used the word “chartreuse”.

      That’s funny about your teacher and the cerise dress. I can see the looks of confusion and the subsequent realization – moi?


  7. I can see how that could get in your head and stay there! Wouldn’t want a hangover with that bird outside the window either. 🙂 Wonderful take on Eggplant.


  8. Your rock collection must be amazing! Love this aubergine piece. The ad is quaint Maggie.


    • Hi Barbara. Since the pieces in our collection are “thumbnails” (no bigger than 3 cm) and kept in small plastic boxes, stored in drawers, it is out of sight and out of mind. Until I start to take pictures. That’s when the fun starts and I can see things with the camera that my aging eyes cannot. Always a surprise.


  9. What an interesting post–so many varied components! I chose aubergine for one wall of the dining room in my last house, and remember with great fondness an aubergine floor-length tent-coat I had for thirty years. My children used to hide under it like little chicks when it was cold out.



  1. One Word Photo Challenge: White | Jennifer Nichole Wells
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