FOOD & RETAIL


New website lists businesses that believe in freedom of medical choice

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 15 2021

Many Windsor area business have signed on to a new national website where businesses let consumers know they make no judgement on the Covid vaccine debate. “NoPass List supports all Canadians who believe in freedom of choice and don’t believe in discrimination or segregation based on medical choice," the website nopasslist.ca states. Area businesses such as Mindful Body Nutrition and Thomson Baking Co. in Windsor, Wheatley’s Lonestar Exteriors and Stoney Creek’s Lindsay’s Landscaping, have added their names to the site. As of today, 1185 businesses across Canada have signed on to the website, which only started Sept. 5. The website - and the businesses which have signed-up – “don’t believe that you should be discriminated against based on medical choices,” says website spokeswoman Brea Osler. Nor does it necessarily mean those businesses won’t enforce any provincial vaccine passports, as some provinces including Ontario, are introducing. “There have been businesses that have signed up who have openly said that they’re not going to implement the vaccine passports,” Osler said. “But it’s not true for every single business on there as they haven’t come out and made those statements yet.” Osler said the site was created by a group of friends, not business owners but consumers, living north of Toronto in East Gwillimbury. “I’m not actually a business owner, I am a consumer and I do feel very strongly on this topic,” she said. Osler said the site is useful for consumers who may have similar philosophical positions and might like to support businesses that have the same. As Osler said, “People want to know what businesses follow these values and what businesses they can support.” Once vax passports are implemented, could the website publish a list of those retailers that will refuse to enforce them? “It’s something that we’re still discussing. At this time it’s really hard to make that call just yet,” Osler said. The website not only provides photos, logos and descriptions of listed businesses but maps so consumers can easily find them.


Those disappearing floor arrows

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 19 2021

Directional arrows are coming off supermarket floors or at least some of them. The arrows, along with stickers indicating social distancing protocols at check-out counters, became an early feature of pandemic measures in spring 2020. But as Canadians get vaccinated in large numbers, stores are starting to remove the floor markers, which sometimes were sources of friction between shoppers. “At the very onset of the pandemic, we immediately introduced several health and safety measures to help keep our teammates and our customers safe,” Sobeys public relations told WON.com. Among the measures were the “one way aisles” (which the arrows served as guidance), plexiglass cashier shields and cancelling product sampling. Sobeys, whose store chain banners include discounter FreshCo, isn’t specifically removing the markers en masse. Said its PR dept., “The ‘one-way aisles’ and floor markers are currently still being used in the majority our stores. However, as these markers are subject to general wear and tear from floor cleaning and sanitization efforts, we will not be replacing them.” Sobeys said it will continue to “evaluate” health and safety measures, including floor markers, as provincial requirements evolve. Meanwhile, at Loblaw, whose banners include No Frills, Zehrs, Real Canadian Superstore and Shoppers Drug Mart, a similar policy is in place. “In stores where arrows are present in the aisles, they will remain until they are worn and must be removed,” the chain said in response to a comment request. However, “We can confirm that at this point we have no plans to remove the plexiglass shields from our stores in Windsor.” Representatives for Walmart and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers did not respond.

Image: Floortapestore.com


"Chain of custody" may be way to dent catalytic converter thefts

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 5 2021

The theft of a catalytic converted from the van of a local charity is only the latest theft – and a higher profile one - of thousands of thefts each year across the province and Canada of the highly-valued pollution control devices. And it’s a plague the scrap industry and government are having a hard time coming to terms with. “It’s a problem all over.” John Bruner of Coreline Auto Parts in Mississauga told WON.com. Thieves “crawl underneath a Prius to get $1400 US for the converter.” He said there is no “chain of custody” in Ontario to identify the source of stolen parts. Steve Fletcher, executive director of the London-based Ontario Automotive Recyclers Association (OARA), said his members don’t buy “loose cats” from the public or businesses. “We are in the used parts business and technically a cat separated from a vehicle is no longer considered a part, it is conserved scrap metal,” he said. “We acquire our cats by processing end-of-life vehicles.” The Canadian Association of Recycling Industries (CARI) has a metal theft alert program. “Our industry suffers from more material theft than any other,” its website says. CARI works with law enforcement to combat theft and report suspected items at www.ScrapTheftAlert.com. Alberta appears the province most advanced in tackling the problem. Ken Sorensen, executive director of the Alberta Automotive Recyclers and Dismantlers Association, said if dealers buy cats “as an auto recycler you have to record certain information” such as a driver’s license from the seller. Sorensen said he knows of one new car dealership where vehicles had their converters poached. “Because pick-up trucks are brand new and so high off the ground they’re easy to slide under and with these battery powered cut saws the one dealership lost 12 – they were all lined-up in a row.” Cat converters can fetch more than $2000 but more often in the mid-hundreds. “It all depends on what unit it is,” Sorensen says.

Photo: TechWiki


Masks off but plexiglass may stay

WindsorOntarioNews.com July 9 2021

Face masks might disappear before check-out plexiglass shields in supermarkets as vaccination rates go up and Covid-19 cases come down, suggests an industry publication. Already in the United States major retailers like Aldi, Costco, Publix and Target have removed mask mandates. In Canada, with lagged vaccinations though increasingly catching up or starting to surpass, one epidemiologist said he wouldn’t be surprised if stores could go “fully open” as early as September. However, Raywat Deonandan of the University of Ottawa told Canadian Grocer, there still could be capacity limitations. Of course all this depends on the easing by provincial governments of safety protocols, with some provinces moving quicker to dispense with them than others. But Deonandan said expect plexiglass shields at check out to stay up at least for the time being. This could be simply to ensure customers of an ongoing level of safety but also may reflect the enormous cost retailers spent on installing them early last year. He also suggests that grocers will continue to provide more wrapped and bagged produce and baked items, for example, into the future. But Sylvain Charlebois of Dalhousie University said continued “deep cleaning” of stores is unnecessary. “We have a better understanding of the risks,” he says. “And the illusion created by staff cleaning everything won’t change the risks consumers are exposed to.” Meanwhile, as society edges out of the pandemic retailers face a new concern: allowing customers into stores mask free. In the US Costco won’t demand proof of vaccinations but ask members' “responsible and respectful co-operation." Others worry that their staff may become “vaccine police” and endure more abuse from some in the public after their enforcement of mask rules over the past year.


Walking a ghostly Devonshire Mall

WindsorOntarioNewsw.com June 24 2021

By Ron Stang/WON.com publisher

It was a sad, bizarre sight walking through a lonely cavernous Devonshire Mall in what normally would be prime time shopping hours late on a Saturday morning. Only a few people, and a janitor picking up litter, could be seen walking through the, for decades, once bustling mall. With provincial Covid-19 restrictions allowing only 15 per cent occupancy most stores were darkened with their according glass doors locked. A few, like Lululemon, were lit but closed and a couple of employees could be seen inside. According to the mall’s website while these stores were closed – brands like Aldo, Roots and Sephora - did provide curbside pickup. Even the mall floor kiosks, which used to sell products like cellphone cases, had tarps draped over them. Perhaps most depressing was seeing a forlorn Dollarama, the peoples’ store! According to mall management, “select” stories, such as smart phone shops and eyeglass vendors, could open and were oases of retail, almost like pre-pandemic times. They’re considered “essential.” Also, “street facing” stores like Old Navy and Indigo, were open. There were about 20 people in line for Old Navy and a few for Indigo with staff ensuring entrance only when the same number of shoppers had left. Since on principle I don’t wait in line, despite being told it would “only be a second,” I turned around and went back to my car. While a few people walked the mall, official mall walking, of the exercise kind, is suspended. And wheelchairs and electric scooters were unavailable. The province today announced the move into Step 2 of the so-called Roadmap to Reopen June 30, a few days prior to when Step 2 was thought to take place. That’s due to lower Covid case counts and high vaccination rates. But “non-essential” retail will only be increased to 25 per cent capacity. The lineups, at least for exterior “street facing” retailers, will likely continue.

Photo: Wikipedia


Windsor-based fitness program breaks aging stereotypes worldwide

WindsorOntarioNews.com June 8 2021

Sixty-five isn’t what it used to be. And it’s time the media, institutions and the public stop treating older people as “vulnerable” and “at risk.” So says Windsor-based fitness company owner Emily Johnson. She owns StrongerU Senior Fitness. Its aim is to work with seniors organizations and train instructors to promote better physical activity for aging people. Providing better fitness breaks the myth that older people have to be inactive. “We refuse to accept that,” Johnson says. The idea is to “smash ageist stereotypes and change perceptions.” Johnson says weight gain, loss of mobility and chronic illness aren’t necessarily related to aging. “Inactivity is the real culprit,” pointing to centenarians running marathons and 90-somethings doing CrossFit. Johnson has a wide background. Besides being founder and creative director of StrongerU Senior Fitness, she appears regularly on CityTV’s Breakfast Television and has been feature in AARP, Authority and Impact magazines as well as Livestrong.com. Johnson graduated from UWindsor’s human kinetics in 2014 and moved to Calgary but returned home last year. She developed the seniors’ instructors’ course – which provides initial certificate instruction plus ongoing education - because she saw the “widespread opportunities” to improve senior fitness and get older adults moving again. Her course offers instruction in cardio, strength, stretch and circuit. Graduates now work across Canada, the US, as far away as Australia and New Zealand. Visit www.strongeruseniorfitness.com.

Photo: Emily Johnson


More murals coming to brighten Windsor's business districts

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 26 2021

More murals are coming to city business districts. The Sandwich BIA is refurbishing one that shows the area’s historic French roots. “The BIA is restoring it as the years have not been kind to it,” BIA coordinator Marty Ann Cuderman said. “It should be reinstalled later this spring or early summer. Of course, we will have it coated to address any graffiti.” Recently the Sandwich area was hit by two attacks of vandalism. In March, a plaque honoring Canada’s first two Black journalists - Mary and Henry Bibb - was stolen. And in May, two of 16 side by side African-Canadian mural panels in Paterson Park – were vandalized. One was that of Howard Watkins, one of Canada’s first Black detectives, which was marred with blue paint. Another area of the panels had the words “Hi Gramma” scrawled on it. Meanwhile in Ford City, two more murals are schedule in addition to the three dozen that already adorn the east side neighbourhood, the biggest mural cluster anywhere in Windsor. “We do not have anything concrete yet as to the themes,” BIA coordinator Bridget Scheuerman said. “We will be sending out a request for artists.” And on Ottawa Street, one mural on the side of the Bourbon Tap & Grill (photo) was completed this spring by well-known local muralist David Derkatz (DERKZ) (see ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT). “It was commissioned by the owner of the Bourbon,” Ottawa St. BIA president Ettore Bonato said. It's a Prohibition speakeasy scene. And a second mural, also by DERKZ, is being done specifically for the BIA and is called “Hands.” It is being painted at the Legal Focus law office. It’s a collage of human hands in different positions showing the give and take of human nature. Said Bonato, “He (DERKZ) has a way of approaching the artwork he produces by breaking it up into sections, then using colour to configure placement of different parts of his artwork, then filling in the gaps he created to have a beautiful, completed mural everyone can enjoy.”


City ends vacant property rebates

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 7 2021

The city has eliminated a commercial property tax rebate program that saw tax reductions for vacant properties. A report to council cited much less demand for the program as economic conditions improved over the past decade. But the major factors were the province pulling funding for its share (education tax) of rebates, new municipal development incentives and favorable provincial assessment reductions in response to claims by property owners. “This decline can be attributed to improvement in general economic conditions,” the report says. This was prior to Covid, which has placed many businesses under duress due to emergency closure laws. But the city points to a phalanx of 11 short term programs specifically tailored to Covid relief. Otherwise, the decline in applications had dropped precipitously since 2009, from 516 that year with $3.1 million in rebate value approved, to 251 and $1.1 million in 2019. Overall in 2019 the city approved 251 applications for $1.14 million in property tax relief. Specifically in Windsor’s nine Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) in 2019 almost $178,000 was returned as rebates. This was for 58 applications out of a total of 833 properties. Most of the rebates went to property owners in the downtown BIA (for 29 of 304 properties for $139,000) followed by nine of 93 properties in Erie St (Via Italia) for $11,520. The BIA which had the least applications – for just one of 78 properties – was Ford City, and the amount was only $129. Said the report, “there are very few applications received when compared to the overall number of properties within the designated areas as the majority are occupied.”


Big box sales finally limited but goal is overall equal playing field - CFIB

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 23 2021

The recent decision by the Ford government to have retailers tape off non-essential areas of big boxes – and other stores like Dollarama – is finally acknowledgement that the small retail sector has been unfairly harmed during the pandemic. Up to now smaller retailers have incessantly complained of the double standard. "We viewed it that the third time around (the latest lockdown) they finally recognized the imbalance that they were creating in favor of the bigger guys and helped level the playing field to a point," Ryan Mallough (photo), Ontario director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), said. While small stores weren’t allowed to open for business or with restrictions, shoppers could easily wander into a Wal-Mart or Costco and purchase housewares, toys or electronics to their hearts’ content. “So, if the government is deciding that we have to shut things down we like this approach in that at the very least it maintains fairness.” But his organization’s position isn’t one or the other. “Ultimately what we’d really like to see is all stores being open to be able to sell all goods – again with capacity limitations, by appointment, or whatever it takes to keep people safe,” he said. Despite seemingly an unfair approach Mallough thinks the reason the government targeted small business was because it wanted to limit, “the number of places that you can go in the hopes that you won’t wind up going out anywhere.” As well, there was the perception that because of their small footprints smaller businesses have more frequent traffic. “Not because cases or spread are necessarily happening there but because ‘we want to communicate to you the public this is how serious it is.’ ” Nevertheless, Mallough said, small retailers have felt themselves the scapegoat. “They’ve been used to set the example to the public as opposed to shut down for direct health and safety reasons.” He said that the CFIB has been trying to encourage government “to think of something that isn’t a blanket lockdown.” He said an example is businesses in northern Ontario “in a region that’s doing pretty well case wise being beholden to the same rules as Toronto.” Or businesses like retail or hair salons that have not seen the same outbreaks as warehouses “yet they’re the ones being shut down.” Methods to level the playing field would be rapid testing or service by appointment. “We’re looking for something that allows some trickle of economic activity to keep these businesses going while we’re still in the heart of the pandemic period.”

Photo: CFIB


All those tinted vehicle windows? Most of them are probably illegal

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 9 2021

Windsor-Essex may be the Sun Parlour of Canada but that’s not likely why so many local drivers have their vehicle windows so heavily tinted. Under Section 73 of the Motor Vehicle Act drivers can’t have their windshield or front row windows tinted in a way “that substantially obscures the interior of the motor vehicle” when viewed from outside. A 2017 law did allow a maximum 30 per cent tint on front row windows and no restrictions on backside or rear windows. Yet a Toronto lawyer and well know road safety expert says drivers violate these standards all the time likely because of lack of police enforcement. Patrick Brown of McLeish Orlando law firm says he “continuously” sees vehicles with illegally tinted windows. “I see them in Toronto all the time.” But drivers get away with it due to lack of enforcement. “It really isn’t something that they (police) enforce.” Brown said people tint their windows not to keep the sun out – there are inexpensive visors for that - but because they simply don’t want to be seen. “This is so people can’t look into their cars and see what they’re doing whether it’s police or other people,” he said. And it has “huge” implications. For example, distracted driving and cell phone use. Police have to see drivers to lay charges. “I think some people actually get the tinting so that they can obscure themselves from what they’re doing inside the car like using their phone, like eating, like doing all kinds of distracted stuff that’s going to hurt someone." Sure, the lawyer allowed, some people might tint their windows because “it’s esthetically good looking.” But tinted windows are also a danger to pedestrians and cyclists. Brown, who has led the province's most comprehensive coroner’s review into pedestrian and cyclist deaths, said people need to make eye contact with drivers. “If you’re coming up from behind on a bike, you want to take a pretty good look to make sure they’re not going to door you. You get to a crossing area, yeah, you want that eye contact with pedestrians so that everybody understands what each is going to do.” The lawyer doesn’t understand why retailers still offer tinted window services. “I’m surprised they sell it at all,” he said. But the bottom line is that it’s “another layer of safety that’s been removed. That’s why it’s illegal.”


This unique Walkerville hair salon keeps, well, bouncing to new heights

WindsorOntarioNews.com March 19 2021

“That name Bounce refers to a positive hair experience – ‘Get Bouncy,' ” says Jannessa Couture, owner of Bounce Hair Boutique. Bounce might also be a good metaphor for the salon itself, which keeps, well, bouncing to new heights in only a few short years. Bounce recently opened on the second floor of 1645 Wyandotte St. E. (above Envy Boutique) in Old Walkerville’s thriving and fashionable business district. It’s just a block away from its previous location next to Vito’s Pizzeria. It was located four years there. But the boutique started nearby on Windermere Rd. five years ago in a 200 sq. ft., cubbyhole. With the recent move it has 2700 sq. ft. “It’s absolutely perfect,” Couture says. “And the light! There’s windows everywhere. And natural light is so immensely essential for hair.” Hard to believe, but the key reason for the boutique’s success is that it was the only local one specializing in curly hair. “I was the only one in southwestern Ontario that had that as a specific specialty,” Couture says. ”So it’s special advance training. Curly hair styling that comes out of hair school is really very basic.” As a result, she gets customers from all over, some four thousand clients and with the recent Covid business lockdowns, no doubt like other boutiques, has had hundreds on the waiting list. "On top of that we’re an inclusive salon so we do all kinds of hair, every level of hair – all levels of curliness I guess you could say,” Couture says. In its five-year history it has drawn clientele from throughout southwestern Ontario, even as far away as Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Couture calls it the “curl spectrum, from wavy to very super curly.” Traditionally, she says, hair salons have taken a “straightening” approach to cutting hair while at Bounce “we celebrate and enhance natural curly hair.” Curly is starting to become mainstream. “Something that is sought after is a stylist who celebrates and understands natural texture and curls,” Couture says. But Bounce got in on the ground floor and grew - or should that be, sprung? - the trend, literally, in Windsor.


'No and low' beer sales fueled in part by the 'Sober Curious' movement

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 24 2021

Forget the bland taste of non-alcoholic beers of old. New brewing methods mean “no and low” alcoholic beers are tasting almost exactly like alcohol brands. The consumer trend of buying non-alcoholic beers is “definitely growing,” said Rick Dalmazzi, Executive Director of the Canadian Craft Brewers Association. “There are more brands appearing every day,” he told WON.com. The “first wave” of de-alcoholization featured blander tasting beers. That was because of old technology. “It was just heat the beer to a certain temperature until you burn off the alcohol,” Dalmazzi, a former Tecumseh resident, said. “The problem is you burn off other molecules that contribute to the flavour.” A newer process uses Reverse Osmosis (RO), where “undesirable solids” – in this case alcohol molecules - are removed from the liquid. But it’s “very expensive,” Dalmazzi said. The newer, more common, and cheaper, way is the modifying the fermentation process. “With the RO process you actually made the beer as you would typically and then you modified it after it was finished,” he said. “The latest process that’s being experimented with – and is getting better and better – is you actually tweak the fermentation while the beer is in the fermenter.” It slows the conversion of the sugar. “When you introduce the yeast, it converts the sugar to alcohol and CO2. And so through some cool chemistry you can retard the attenuation or the fermentation to get less alcohol but keep all the other good things that happen in the fermenter." This means beers can have taste very similar to regular Lager, IPA or Stout. Canadian Grocer magazine reported Euromonitor International found non-and low-alcoholic beer grossed US$124.5 million in Canada in 2019. The sales driven largely by younger demographics, skew somewhat female and include the Sober Curious movement with month-long sobriety challenges like Sober October and Dry January. Dalmazzi said whatever the reason, including health, he doesn’t think “no and low” will cut into traditional beer sales. He said the beer can be a substitute for alcoholic beer when people don’t want to consume alcohol like during a business lunch. Canadian Grocer quotes a Molson’s rep who said 75 per cent of those who bought non-alcoholic also bought alcoholic. “I think the role for low alcohol beer specifically is more of a replacement for soft drinks,” Dalmazzi said.

Photo: Wikipedia

For the 'real' eco-conscious shopper

WindsorOntarioNews.com February 1 2021

For those people so concerned about the environment even conventional recycling won’t do they can now order groceries in reusable containers and have those same containers used over and over again. You’d be correct to think it's just like the old-fashioned returnable beer and soft drink bottles. Starting today Loblaws and a company called Loop have teamed to offer a website where you can order products in refillable containers. You can order ice cream, sauces, snacks and pet food. Name brands include Kraft Heinz, Nature’s Path, Nestlé, Häagen-Dazs and Hershey Canada. There’s also a selection of Loblaw’s President’s Choice products. It works this way: You sign-up and order groceries from the online Loop store. Groceries are shipped by FedEx to your home in special Loop tote bags. After you’ve finished with the product containers you put them back in the tote and schedule a free FedEx pickup or drop at a participating FedEx office. As opposed to typical plastic or cardboard store packaging this packaging is “reimagined,” says Loop. “You're not only reducing your environmental impact, but also experiencing familiar products in a completely new way.” The packaging has been built to be used over and over. “Each container must be made of durable material that is resilient enough to be reused for at least ten use cycles, including a full journey through production, shipping, use, and cleaning,” the company says. Once returned they are “cleaned at the highest standards while using as little water and energy as possible.” When you order you also place a fully refundable deposit on the product, paid back when returned. Individual products include Heinz Ketchup (3.29+.50 deposit), Häagen-Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream ($6.29 +$5 deposit) President’s Choice Lemonade (3.49 + .50 deposit), International Harvest Go Maple Ginger Cashews ($17.95 + 5.14 deposit). It’s all of course about cutting back on waste, even the kind you put in your blue box. “The fact is that there’s too much plastic waste in our environment,” says Loblaw Executive Chairman Galen Weston, Executive Chairman, in a release. Customers can order through www.loopstore.ca and maboutiqueloop.ca

Photo: Loop


Grocery shelf guide and app offers more nutrition, dietary, product info

WindsorOntarioNews.com January 19 2021

Metro grocery has introduced a food guide to help customers determine what products best suit their health and well-being needs. ‘My Health My Choices’ divides 9000 products into 50 categories such as gluten-free, vegan, keto-friendly, kosher, organic and lactose-free. A product’s benefits are found right on shelf with green labels. As well, a Metro smart phone app allows customers to scan a bar code for more information. There’s also nutrition information, recipes, and links to all products in the category. Information may be relatively unique to the products, for example wanting to find information on fair trade coffee and chocolate. The Metro chain, which has 950 food stores in Ontario and Quebec (HQ Montreal) including the Food Basics discount chain, used “unique methodology” to come up with the guide, according to a company release. These include Canada’s Food Guide, information published by regulatory bodies like Health Canada, and the standards for different dietary lifestyles. "With this program, we're giving our customers the opportunity to choose foods that meet their own definition of wellness,” Mike Thomson, Vice President Grocery Merchandising, says. The company says it’s the only chain with such a guide. "When you consider that 51% of Canadian adults regularly seek information on the quality, suitability and healthiness of the products they consume, a program such as this one is particularly important," says Linda Montpetit, nutritionist and long-time collaborator with Metro. “Information on product packaging are not always easy for consumers to interpret. This program combines the information on the labels with the hidden qualities of the products. This will greatly simplify people's shopping experience and help them make informed decisions."

Image: Metro


Local Holiday Gift Guide triples in size

WindsorOntarioNews.com November 24 2020

Anyone looking for a way to buy local and support hard hit area businesses this year of the big P should look no further than the second annual Windsor Essex Holiday Gift Guide, delivered via Canada Post. The glossy 24-page guide – a big increase from eight pages last year - features the products of largely small and unique area shops. In fact, more than 175 participants are included. There are also links to city business districts and community shopping around Essex County. And check out the thumbnail portraits of local artisans making products you’ll find nowhere else. “During Covid-19 it’s been more important than ever to keep our dollars local,” Gord Orr, CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, which prints the guide, says in a letter. “That means ordering direct from local artisans and makers, buying locally grown produce or buying in person at stores.” You’ll find everything from nifty men’s wallets to charcuterie boards, hand painted mugs to originsl acrylic paintings, cool adult slippers to pocket shawls. And you can find a variety of gifts from a couple of artisan markets – The Local Maker and the Urban Art Market. Area wineries are represented as well as craft breweries and the region’s distilleries – large and small. You can also explore online at yqgholidays.ca. While online you can enter the 40 Days of Giveaways contest. Every day until Dec. 18 a gift from the Guide will be awarded. Orr told WON.com 35,000 copies of the Guide have been mailed and 5000 are available through retail partners and sponsors. Retailers featured didn’t pay for placement. “Some did provide us in-kind giving for contest gifting.” he said. The tourist agency footed most of the bill with assistance from the chamber of commerce and associated business groups.

City eyes biggest electrical vehicle fleet purchase yet at $250,000

WindsorOntarioNews.com November 4 2020

City Council is being asked to approve its first large quantity of electric vehicles at a cost of almost $250,000. The vehicles would replace one conventional minivan “and provide for five additional vehicles” for the city’s building department, a report to council says. The department currently has one electric vehicle (EV) but “has expressed an interest in utilizing fully electric vehicles wherever possible.” The car model is the Chevrolet Bolt and would be purchased from LaSalle’s Reaume Chevrolet, the only dealer that submitted a bid. The vehicles each qualify for a $5000 government rebate. The report urges against any delay as the city could lose the rebate. The Bolt is a five-door all-electric subcompact. The vehicle complies with the city’s “climate change mitigation” goals, which the city uses as guidelines for future vehicle purchases. “As vehicles are replaced, consideration is given to fuel-efficient vehicles,” the report says. “The integration of electric vehicles in the city fleet will have a positive impact on decreasing the total projected emissions and reducing the total cost of fuel,” it says. The city’s fleet manager Angela Marazita told WON.com the city already has three Bolts "but this will be the first purchase of a larger quantity." She said that “purchasing electric vehicles is considered if operationally and economically feasible.” Marazita said besides creating zero emissions the vehicles have reduced maintenance and obviously eliminate future fuel purchases. EV charging stations are already located at city fleet facilities. By comparison, the price of a conventional Chrysler Pacifica minivan starts at $33,246 or a total of $199,476 for six vehicles pre-tax and prior to any possible fleet discounts. The city building department responds to property standards complaints and undertakes building inspections.

Mercato Fresh plans more groceries in both Windsor and Essex County

WindsorOntarioNews.com October 15 2020

Mercato Fresh expects to roll out a couple of “European style” groceries in Windsor next year, after successfully opening its first market in Chatham in February. The brainchild of former Toscana restaurant owner Jonathan Reaume and M.R. Meat Market’s Marc Romualdi these will be the first of several city and county locations including in LaSalle and Kingsville. The market offers a boutique like atmosphere with fresh foods along one side, almost like little storefronts, stalls or kiosks like in a market, with fresh grocery in the middle of the store. Reaume, a long-time restaurateur who’s Toscana also had resto ops on Boblo Island, the Art Gallery of Windsor and Windsor Club, gradually closed those sites and then the full south Windsor restaurant in August. Reaume and Romualdi chose Chatham (in a part of the former Target store across from Union Gas headquarters on Keil Drive) for its first Mercato Fresh because the city was “underserved,” Reaume said. “We have a huge prepared foods department which is my background. We have a bakery that scratch bakes cakes of all kinds. It has every department. We have dairy, deli, fresh meat, produce. We brought Teddy from Tiki Sushi in Windsor to do the sushi here so we have fresh sushi every day.” At time of writing the Windsor locations hadn’t been nailed down but one will be on the east side. Reaume said the grocery is designed to appeal to all shoppers. He said besides the unique fresh side counters the store has a “European feel” with broad sightlines. “None of the shelving is above five feet, you can see everything in the store, you can see everyone in the store – all the departments are very clearly marked overhead, and it’s a fun store to navigate.”

Photo: Rosati Group

Covid-19 insolvencies DOWN big time

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 22 2020

Despite varying degrees of busines lockdowns over the past six months the number of people and businesses experiencing severe financing problems hasn’t materialized. That’s according to a couple of area insolvency trustees. In fact, said Kathy Liberty (photo) of MNP Ltd., there has been a decrease in people and companies getting into financial trouble. “We actually saw a downturn in the number of insolvencies during May, June, July – well, May and June, we really saw a dramatic downturn,” she said, The federal Superintendent of Bankruptcy’s stats showed that Ontario insolvencies were down 36.3 per cent in July compared to the same month a year earlier. The reason? Likely the array of government and private support, from personal CERB deposits to retail rent relief to banks deferring mortgages. “As well the average spending of Ontarians changed dramatically because restaurants were closed, theatres were closed, malls were closed,” Liberty said. “So, the ability to spend their money was not there.” But the opposite started occurring in August and increased in September as aid programs began winding down, people went back to work and creditors started to demand loan repayments. “August the phone calls started, people expressing interest in what’s available to help them,” Liberty said. “September the phone calls have increased even a bit more.” The jury is out on whether tomorrow’s federal Thorne Speech will have more relief though the government has announced programs like the $2000 monthly CERB will be merged with a less generous EI program. Trustee Stephen Funtig said it’s still “too early” to see an upsurge in people and companies experiencing financial trouble. But he expects that could happen later this year if major aid programs wind down or run out. “There’s only so long that you can keep on getting people some relief and then what happens when they take away that program,” he asked. “I think a lot of those things (insolvencies, bankruptcies) will happen.”

Photo: MNP Ltd.

RETAIL BRIEFS: New app a boost for disabled drivers, Two Men and a Truck now here, and Harvey's makes a burger even more beautiful

WindsorOntarioNews.com Sept. 3. 2020

Driving just hot a bit easier for people with disabilities. B’nai Brith Canada today announced a new app that will ease their worries if they have to fill up with gas but are physically compromised from getting out of the car and using the pump. The “fuelService” app was developed with Shell Canada. Participating Shell stations will provide an attendant to fill up the car for them. “The app will provide a whole new level of freedom for disabled drivers, and promises to be a major gain for accessibility in Canada, Canada’s leading Jewish advocacy group says. The app was developed by B’nai Brith member Eddie Rice. Rice contracted polio at a young age and was personally affected as a disabled driver. He’s also head of the Canadian Coalition for Mobility Challenged Drivers. Ontario's disability legislation had no provision for full service for disabled drivers.

Photo: Eddie Rice (right) with former Ontario lieutenant-governor David Onley (Canadian Jewish News)

Windsor finally has a Two Men and a Truck franchise. Nigerian immigrant Nicolas Udumukwu arrived in Canada last year after a background in banking and was looking for meaningful business opportunity. After investigating the company, and with friends who had franchises in western Canada, he and wife Rhoda (left) signed up for the franchise. “After being unable to open their franchise earlier this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nicolas and Rhoda Udumukwu are now open to serve consumer and business customers requiring moving and packing services in Windsor and Essex County,” company president John Prittie. The franchise is at 2825 Lauzon Parkway, Unit 202, Windsor, ON. N8T 3H5. Phone 519.419.5756; twomenwindsor.ca.

Like other businessesHarvey’s hamburgers is giving back to Covid-19 first responders. HaRVey’s RV Tour comes to Windsor tomorrow at University Plaza, 2700 Tecumseh Rd. W., 12 – 3 pm. Harvey's is taking its hamburgers and hockey sticks - for physical distancing - on the road and giving away 50,000 free "Thanks" burgers.


A classic bookstore grows in the 'burg

WindsorOntarioNews.com August 5 2020

The region’s first new independent bookstore – or bookstore of any kind - will soon be opening in the heart of downtown Amherstburg. And the owner is none other than part Toronto transplant – but originally an Essex County kid – Richard Peddie, former president and CEO of Maple Lead Sports and Entertainment. Peddie and wife Colleen built a second house on Boblo Island some years ago and Peddie has become a major civic contributor to the ‘burg. He’s president of the Amherstburg Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization which funds local charities. Now he and Colleen are on their latest local venture. It’s called the River Bookshop at 67 Richmond St. in the former River Town Times newspaper building. The store may be a business but the owners see it as also a contribution to the town’s social fabric. “Our River Bookshop wishes to make Amherstburg even better to live and visit by creating a shop that is grounded in our community but open to the world. River Bookshop will be a community hub, a ‘Third Place’ where people gather and will feel comfortable spending time,” the website says. But not any bookshop. The exterior and interior will be rich in architectural details with a definitive historic look harkening back to bookstores of old. They label it “Victorian new and now” in the 1885 corner building. Three high-powered Toronto design and marketing firms are involved. The lead is Lebel & Boulaine architects, which seeks clients “who want to actively engage their built environment and create a cultural experience of space, community and purpose.” One Method created the logo and a wall mural along the store’s Ramsay St. side. It also “came up with a fun idea for the first floor. You have to visit the bookshop to find it.” Finally, ModelCtzn, had the idea for a “very unique event space” on the second floor. It’s “something that simply doesn’t exist in Essex County today...But two clues: F. Scott Fitzgerald and rum runners.” We’ll bite: a legal speakeasy?

Image: RiverBookshop,com

BIAs report business as usual

WindsorOntarioNews.com June 18 2020

With Windsor-Essex being one of three Ontario regions still locked in Phase One of provincial re-openings in the wake of coronavirus lockdowns – and many small businesses shut tight or operations curtailed dramatically for three months – how much damage might be strewn across the local retail landscape? WON.com wanted to find out if any local mom and pop shops have gone out of business for lack of revenue, cash flow or not being able to pay rent. We contacted several neighborhood business improvement associations and heard back from four. Bridget Scheuerman, coordinator of the Olde Riverside, Pillette Villages and Ford City BIAs, said she would “not comment on any bankruptcies, permanent closings as I do not feel that is the purpose of the BIA.” Instead, she said, the purpose is to assist businesses “through beautification and marketing.” That said, Scheuerman said businesses “have fared well and are starting to reopen” pending provincial guidelines. “At this point I am not aware of any permanent closings.” She added that Olde Riverside has undertaken an “aggressive marketing program” throughout COVID. Meanwhile, Debi Croucher, executive director of the downtown BIA, took a definitive upbeat tone. “What's open downtown during COVID-19? More than what's closed, that's for sure,” Croucher said. She said “so many of our members have been able to adapt to the pandemic and have continued to offer services throughout.” These include some of Windsor’s best-known businesses like The Coffee Exchange, Rogue's Gallery Comics and Basil Court Thai Restaurant. And retailers like Behind the Wood and Whiskeyjack Boutique have maintained business through curbside pickup and delivery. “Other downtown services like mechanics, pharmacies, lawyers and accountants have remained open for the duration of the pandemic,” Croucher said.

Photo: City of Windsor

Corner stores even more convenient during pandemic

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 26 2020

Convenience stores have stepped up their niche market by being even more convenient during Covid. So says Dave Bryan, CEO of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association. ”We’re finding more and more customers are actually more comfortable coming to a smaller footprint like a convenience store to pick up their daily needs, not their major grocery items,” he said. “So, we’re seeing a higher traffic count.” Convenience stores also offer products groceries and some pharmacies don’t, such as lottery tickets and cigarettes. Corner and family run small stores sell 76 per cent of lottery tickets and those sales were up 15 per cent last month, Bryan said. As well, with First Nations reserves voluntarily closed, convenience stores are selling “99 per cent” of smokes. “Our in-store tobacco business is up anywhere from 20 to 30 per cent, which brings in more traffic and incremental sales,” Bryan says. “As long as the government can figure out to keep the reserves from selling cheap cigarettes the convenience sector will be strong and viable going forward.” (It’s illegal to sell federally native-allocated cigarettes with official peach colored stamps to non-natives.) One part of the sector is down, however. Stores that have gas pumps have seen gas sales down 30 to 40 per cent because fewer are driving, Bryan said. But for those buying gas they're encouraged to pay at the pump. As for social distancing, the small scale of corner stores hasn’t posed a problem. “We’re very fortunate because we don’t usually have more than two people in a store at a time, they come and go and speed of service means they’re there for less than five minutes,” Bryan said. But owners still ask customers to stand six feet apart, there are plexiglass shields, and debit/credit cards are encouraged. As for purchasing PPE some additional expenses have been incurred by stores. But the bottom line is that’s “been offset by an increase in sales.” Despite the sector’s buoyancy, however, some stores still struggle with rent. The association has also commenced a Buy Local campaign (photo above).

Social distancing and pot sales – marriage made in haven

WindsorOntarioNews.com May 11 2020

Ever since social distancing regulations have been implemented due to Covid-19, provincial cannabis retailers have seen a massive increase in sales. That’s according to the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) as well as the 55 private retailers scattered around the province. Before March 9, when the rules took effect, online sales were between 2500 and 3500 a day. That increased to 6000, 10,000 and topped 13,000 at peak the first week of April, which coincides with the start of the dramatic rise of Covid-19 infections in the province in early April. Pot sales peaked about April 4 but infections continued to increase reaching a peak about mid-April. And just like such large digital retailers as Amazon and Walmart, the OCS has added staff to its warehouse and is dramatically expanding courier shipping. “At OCS’s third-party distribution centre, this has meant staffing up and at the same time introducing new work practices to protect workers in light of Covid-19,” OCS said in a release. Free shipping was also launched “to help make OCS.ca more accessible than ever; this matches similar offerings from the illegal market.” OCS also launched direct-to-door courier service, which now covers 63 per cent of consumers. “Capacity of this courier service has grown from 400 orders a day to almost 5,000, with efforts underway to expand further.” Canada Post has been making deliveries since marijuana was first legalized in autumn 2018. Meanwhile the OCS has lowered prices in response to “consumer feedback” on more than 240 products. “A recent offering by Pure Sunfarms of a 28gram Indica blend for $4.20 a gram is evidence that legal does not mean high cost,” the OCS says. “Consumers are choosing this product and reviewing it very positively.”

Photo: Wikipedia

Retailers: make social distancing rules obvious

WindsorOntarioNews.com April 20 2020

By Ron Stang

A peaceful outing to my local big box retailer turned into a bit of schizoid experience. On a Tuesday evening when the store was virtually empty, I sauntered in, mask on face, to pick up a few non-perishable items such as printer ink and banker boxes. But why not get a couple of grocery items? As mentioned, there were few people in the store, the staff I saw were friendly. With pop music on the speakers one could be forgiven thinking there was no coronavirus crisis. So, I took my cart and wandered down a grocery aisle. A dude wearing a mask that had the look of Darth Vader, began shouting at me. Taken unaware, I didn’t understand what he was saying. He shouted again, saying I was getting too close (I was well beyond two metres) and somehow walking the wrong way. Then I clued-in: “Oh these are one-way aisles!?” Another shriek from Darth Vader, “Yessss!” Well, excuse me, but there were no arrows on the floor indicating that. I told the dude, but he simply kept admonishing. I sauntered on and found a store clerk – who wasn’t practicing social distancing and wasn’t wearing a mask - to ask where the frozen fruit was located. He said the next aisle. So, this time, I turned around and followed the supposedly correct direction of the - unmarked - aisle. I then turned up the next aisle, which did have arrow markings on the floor. But the Darth Vader dude was ahead of me - well beyond six feet (two metres) away. When I reached into the freezer, he yelled again that I was getting too close. Apparently, my crime was that I wasn’t standing within a set of red lines on the floor, which I’d never taken notice of. Apparently, with the lines, one customer is to stay within one set of lines until the customer ahead moves from their set of lines. Ok, fine. But there were no obvious store explanations stating that. And no other customers were paying attention to them. So, a word to retailers: please make your Covid-19 social distancing rules obvious, if only in part to lessen ridiculous scolding from self-styled social vigilantes.

Tim's stops serving fake meat

WindsorOntarioNews.com Jan 29 2020

So much for fake meat. Tim Hortons has killed off the product after a nine month experiment. A visitor to an east side Tim Hortons this week, seeking a Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich, was told the chain is no longer selling the product. The product, along with other meatless meat versions at different fast food chains, was hailed with much fanfare when announced last June. “Canadians are hungry to try our breakfast sandwiches made with Beyond Meat’s 100% plant based sausage patty,” Mike Hancock, Chief Operations Officer, said. “We’ve listened to our guests and are excited to be able to offer three delicious breakfast sandwiches that vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat lovers can feel good about.” The meatless concept has been praised by groups outside the restaurant industry, including vegetarians and environmentalists, for using plant-based sources instead of animals and putting less stress on the environment. Animal rights activists had named Beyond Meat company of the year. But Tim Hortons this week said the sandwiches had been introduced as a limited time offer. “We may offer Beyond Meat again in the future,” the chain said. The Washington Examiner said this is the latest blow to the much touted Beyond Meat enterprise. The Los Angeles company, whose slogan is “The Future of Protein”, has seen its stocks plunge 50 per cent since its peak last summer when the product was widely praised as the future of meat. It lost another four per cent Tuesday. According to the Examiner, Burger King has also had trouble selling its substitue meat burger, made by Impossible Foods, a Beyond Meat competitor. Only 20 such burgers were sold in a day, one franchise owner bemoaned.

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Local ctte wants ban on single-use bags

The Windsor Essex County Environment Committee wants a total ban on single use plastic. This includes checkout bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, cutlery and “certain takeout containers and straws.” It’s calling on the city to ask Ottawa to enact such a ban “no later than the end of the year.” It also asks that the city endorse a “management plan” to add plastic manufactured items “as a toxic substance” to a schedule of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). – 9/14/21


More than 25K Covid rapid test kits have now gone to local businesses

More than 25,000 rapid Covid test kits have been distributed to businesses in Windsor and Essex County. The partnership called WeStaySafe links local chambers in Windsor, Amherstburg and Leamington with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, WEtech Alliance and the province. Some 215 businesses have accepted the self-administered tests which take 15 minutes to provide results. Some 5000 employees in food and beverage, manufacturing, health care, retail and hospitality are taking the tests regularly. They’re designed to keep workplaces safe even if employees have been vaccinated. The goal of is to identify asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic cases of Covid-19 that might otherwise be missed. “As businesses continue to reopen, the possibility of infection and transmission through asymptomatic cases is still very high,” Rakesh Naidu, president and of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, said. – 8/5/21


E-shelf labels coming to a grocery near you

Look for electronic shelf labels coming to a grocery store near you soon. Empire Company, parent of Sobeys and Food Basics, is introducing the labels on store shelves this summer. Those labels, as per their name, won’t be static but will constantly change to keep up with price points. Instead of a staffer manually changing the prices they will be updated from a central computer. “The electronic shelf labels (ESL) allow the store to instantly update price instead of changing out each price tag when there is a change in price,” spokeswoman Stephanie Bonk said. “The main advantages will be less waste being produced from the use of paper tags and added efficiency in the ability to change prices more quickly.” – 6/28/21

Photo: Empire Co.


Arrest made in Leamington Gleaners warehouse break-in

An arrest has been made in the break-in of Southwestern Ontario Gleaners in Leamington. The volunteer agency packages dehydrated vegetable mix and fruit snacks for charities around the world. The warehouse and processing facility, located in a business park, had a break-in in February. “Because of video surveillance, the police were able to arrest an individual” GM Joel Epp said. Some $5000 in theft and damages (photos) had to be replaced. “We are saddened by this incident and we can only hope that the person responsible gets the help he needs to make better decisions,” Epp said. – 6/7/21

Photos: SW Ont Gleaners


New drinks service delivers just in time for Victoria Day weekend

Think of it as DoorDash or Uber Eats for beer, wine and spirits – and its local. Starting Friday Windsor, Lasalle and Tecumseh customers can order online from the LCBO and local breweries, wineries and distilleries through the Drinks Out website (www.drinksout.ca). The service piggybacks on the huge expansion of home delivery during the pandemic. “We realized that people needed an alternative to receive products during lockdowns, and the convenience provided through direct to door delivery is becoming more of an expectation for consumers,” Vik Lall, co-founder, said in a release. He and his brother - the two an engineer and dentist - are behind the business. They also hope to support local producers by making it more convenient for customers to order their products. Drinkout also offers after-hours delivery until 10 pm, allowing producers such as Wolfhead Distillery and Peele Island Winery to extend their sales hours. Ordering just takes a few clicks and customers can track their delivery status. – 5/19/21


New emergency response company now on the local scene

There’s another choice in Windsor for hard-pressed property owners needing emergency clean-up. First Onsite, an emergency response and restoration company, responds to a wide variety of emergency situations – residential or commercial. These could be anything from basement flooding to house fires, mold and asbestos removal. “We pretty well do it all,” Ontario senior VP Jason Prescott says. In the case of basement flooding - a huge problem in Windsor after major storms in recent years - the First Onsite crew would “extract, remediate and commence to dry out” the home either after being called through an insurance company or individual homeowner, Prescott said. In fact, “fires and floods are the main calls that we get.” In the case of fire, the crew would assess, clean, deodorize and rebuild. The firm will even respond to smaller emergencies like laundry room flooding. First Onsite also has wide experience in serving commercial customers – from nursing homes to schools, hotels to factories. And it carries out infection prevention and decontamination. Charles Bonham is the local manager. – 5/5/21


Recycled containers starting to make a return

Bulk Barn is slowly reintroducing reusable containers after suspending them a year ago. “The Reusable Container Program was suspended as a safety precaution in March 2020, due to the pandemic,” a customer service associate said in an email. Instead of traditional plastic bags customers can bring reusable containers like jars to scoop their favorite bulk foods. The program is aimed at creating zero waste. Bulk Barn also sells recycling jars of various sizes. Customers must check with the cashier to make sure their container meets minimum standards. Participating stores can be found on the chain’s website. Meanwhile the self-service retailer introduced additional safeguards early in the pandemic including enhanced cleaning and gloves to customers. – 4/9/21


It's raining cheques for auto wire harness class action lawsuit members

Many consumers, surprisingly or not, are receiving payments as part of a multi-year class action settlement from the Canadian Auto Parts Class Action. All cheques were mailed March 5 and are either paper cheques or direct deposits. Claimants were automatically enrolled if they purchased or leased an “eligible brand” between Jan. 1 1999 and Nov. 30 2014. The brands are Honda/Acura, Nissan/Infiniti, Toyota/Lexus, Subaru and Pontiac Vibe. “No wrongdoing is alleged,” says the claim’s website. The companies “were unaware of alleged price-fixing in respect of the Automotive Wire Harness Systems they purchased for installation in their automotive vehicles.” Each payment is $25. This is the first of some 40 cases “ongoing” related to auto parts price-fixing and there could be “further distributions.” The law firms of Sotos LLP, Siskinds LLP, Siskinds Desmeules, and CFM LLP are handling the claim. – 3/10/21

Photo: Class action website


Tim Hortons intros chain's third version of dark roast coffee

If you don’t succeed try, try and try – literally – again. Tim Hortons has introduced, for a third time, a dark roast coffee which it vows is “darker and richer” than its two earlier versions, in 2014 and 2017. The challenge was to develop a blend that is “bolder” yet doesn’t have the bitterness that can turn off regular coffee drinkers, Kevin West, Tim's coffee operations director, told The Canadian Press. This flavour is more complex and has notes of chocolate and cedar. Jeff Dover of FX Strategy, told WON.com that Tim’s is locked in a competitive war with Starbucks with each trying to offer a coffee the other chain excels in. “Tim Hortons and Starbucks have been competing against each other in Canada,” Dover said. “Starbucks targeted Tim Hortons customers with their True North Blend. Tim Hortons, in turn, has been trying to capture Starbucks customers with its Dark Roast.” Dover also said that with Starbucks closing some stores “Tim’s has an opportunity to capture some Starbucks customers.” Chick Advisor gives the blend a 3.9 out of 5 rating.” - 2/8/21

Photo: Chick Advisor


Downtown has highest budget, greatest total BIA business levy

The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Area (BIA) had the biggest tax levy for members in 2020 - $667,550. Next was $125,000 for the Erie Street (Via Italia) BIA, $94,000 for the Wyandotte Town Centre BIA, $71,965 for the Ottawa Street BIA, $67,100 for Olde Sandwich Towne, $65,000 for Olde Riverside Town Centre, $45,000 for Olde Walkerville, $40,000 for Pillette Village and $30,000 for Ford City. Business property owners in the designated BIAs pay their levies as part of city tax bills. Money is typically used for expenses like advertising and promotion, beautification and hanging flower baskets to enhance the commercial districts and attract customers. The nine BIAs are currently preparing their 2021 budgets. BIAs are required to provide audited financial statements to the city yearly. – 1/25/21


Retailer's no mask sign invites $880 fine

A London business is being fined $880 for putting up a sign advising shoppers that they don’t have to wear a mask if they don’t want to. Heather Rulton, owner of Spirituality In You Healing Center on Dundas Street on the city’s east side, was ticketed by the City of London. Rulton took the position to “not ask questions of customers who are not wearing a face covering,” according to the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a civil liberties organization representing the store. The Justice Centre sent a letter to the city “warning that attempting to censor a small business owner’s sign is a violation of her freedom of expression.” – 1/12/21

Photo: Spirituality In You Healing Center


Yes, those ARE Canada Post delivery trucks you're seeing weekends

Weekend mail service isn’t a staple in Canada. But recently Canada Post delivery trucks have been spotted on local highways and byways even on Sunday. It’s all part of stepped-up Christmas season delivery. Canada Post told WON.com it started delivering parcels on Sundays as early as Nov. 15 “and will continue to do so” through “the early new year.” The Crown corporation says it is seeing “unprecedented volumes across the country.” Canada Post has also increased its fleet by 1000 vehicles. Canada Post noticed growth in deliveries in late November as more Canadians have been shopping online. – 12/9/20

Photo: Canada Post


Store hours a riddle

It was a little strange last Monday morning when shoppers arrived at Hudson’s Bay Co.’s Devonshire Mall store only to find the doors locked and a sign stating the store wouldn’t open until 12 noon. Meanwhile the rest of the mall was open. Emails to HBC and mall management were unreturned. But a website check Friday found the mall hours seemingly back to normal, with the store opening weekdays 9.30, Saturday 9 and Sunday 11 am. Attempts to reach someone at the store were also unsuccessful as there were no answers at three different store departments. Hudson’s Bay has had difficulty paying rent at other locations and last week was ordered by a Quebec judge to pay up at several sites. A BC store was reportedly closed due to rent non-payment. And HBC’s Centerpoint Mall store in Toronto was reopened after the chain obtained a court injunction against the mall owner. The issue: non-payment of rent as HBC has been heavily impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. – 11/29/20

2020 Beaujolais Nouveau release features five wines

For those who love it, get ready to line up when doors open at LCBO outlets tomorrow. It’s the third Thursday in November and time for the annual release – celebration to many – of the famed early grape Beaujolais Nouveau harvest wines. Traditionally, the event is celebrated in France with fireworks, music and festivals, though all bets are off this being a Covid-19 year. But the French, and we Canadians, can still imbibe. Here are the five wines being released. Get to stores early because some wines sell out though the products can linger on shelves for a few weeks. Beaujolais Villages Nouveau (Joseph Drouhin) (LCBO #113266) - $18.95, Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau (G. Duboeuf) (LCBO #932780) - $18.95, BOUCHARD AINE BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU (LCBO #638080) - $15.95, Mommessin Beaujolais Nouveau (LCBO #897934) - $15.95, Duboeuf Gamay Nouveau (LCBO #891846) - $10.95. – 11/18/10

2021 Milk Calendar is out

The Dairy Farmers of Canada’s 2021 Milk Calendar is out, and you can sign up to have one mailed to your home address. Or you can access the calendar's all-new 15 recipes online – always “easy to make, beautiful to behold and a joy to share” and which incorporate some dairy product of course. This is the 44th year for the calendar. Recipes include Canadian Beef & Sweet Potato Winter Stew, Homestyle Mushroom Soup and Holiday Eggnog Brunch Pancakes- 11/5/20

No jokes please, we're shopping for liquor

They may have spirit but, please, no joking in the liquor store. The LCBO, as an advisory to shoppers during the Covid-19 pandemic, has displayed bright orange posters with pictograms recommending how shoppers should conduct themselves in the stores while they pick up that six-pack, or bottle of Chardonnay or rye whiskey. They include “Please shop alone,” “Do not shop if you are ill or should be self-isolating,” “Practice physical distancing,” “Be kind. This is a stressful time for all of us.” And, finally, “No inappropriate jokes or behaviour, especially about Covid-19.” That had at least one person on Facebook puzzled. So WON.com contacted the LCBO's press office to ask why the nix on humour. It replied: “This messaging is included on our in-store posters as a friendly reminder to our customers to be patient and kind to our staff, security team and to each other during this stressful time.” The LCBO, deemed an essential service, has been one of the few retailers allowed to open since the health emergency began.– 9/24/20

Photo: Kris Roehler via Facebook

5G cell phone network still yet to hit Windsor

5G cell phone technology is being rolled out across more Ontario communities but not Windsor, at least yet. Rogers Communications has announced that 18 additional cities will be getting the fifth-generation technology, a vast improvement over previous generations. 5G has greater bandwidth, giving higher download speeds, eventually up to 10 gigabits per second. But the new locations are still in the general vicinity of Toronto or in Ottawa and Hamilton. Rogers first rolled out 5G in downtown Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Toronto in January. “5G is the next technological evolution that will transform the way we live and work in Ontario,” said Philippe Oille, President of Rogers’ southwestern Ontario region. – 9/2/20

Fitness co. compares itself favorably to grocery stores

Being “Cleansiderate” and the “Clean Thumbs Club” are a couple of cutsey terms one fitness studio has employed as it gets back up and running during Covid Stage 3 protocols. Planet Fitness, which opened studios in Chatham and Windsor earlier this year, has revamped its facilities and uses the slogans as ways to keep the scene clean as top of mind. “And what other industry actually has the consumer cleaning after themselves? Not grocery stores!” the company boasts. Staff have also had Covid cleaning training. This includes a 20-minute walk around “to continually clean and sanitize high-touch areas.” To enable “Social Fitnessing” some pieces of cardio equipment have been marked temporarily out of use. Check-ins are through apps and masks for customers and staff are necessary. – 8/26/20

Drug chain rolls out family medical clinics

Windsor-Essex, traditionally with a shortage of family docs, could be a prime candidate for a new family clinic experiment being offered by Shoppers Drug Mart. Canada’s largest drug store chain is rolling out three such clinics in the Toronto area, the first opening this week. Called Health Clinic by Shoppers or just The Health Clinic the chain is introducing it in areas underserved by physicians and where patients don’t have family doctors. “We know Canadians want and need more from their primary care,” Shoppers president Jeff Leger said in a release. Asked whether such clinics might be seen soon in SW Ontario, a spokesperson said, “We are committed to getting this right for our patients and once the model is validated and refined we hope to reach more Canadians by expanding clinics to other parts of the country.” – 6/12/10

Photo: Shoppers Drug Mart

Most local greenhouse production goes for export - activist

Federal employment minister Carla Qualtrough says the $58 million announced this week for reforming agricultural migrant worker conditions will help preserve Canada’s food supply. The money comes in the wake of massive increases in Covid-19 numbers among seasonal workers. Poor employment conditions – particularly housing and cramped conditions – are blamed for the outbreaks. But an activist says it’s incorrect to conclude much or even most of the food produced goes for domestic consumption. Chris Ramsaroop of Justice for Migrant Workers, said “in your area most of that is for export production, it’s not actually for food sovereignty.” He said even the vegetable growers’ website indicates “80 to 90 per cent” is for export. Ramsaroop said it’s worth pointing out that some growers have also shifted completely from food to cannabis. “That told me that down there that the concern is not necessarily about food production or protecting the food safety or system it’s about profit – basing a busines model on profit rather than meeting the needs of the community.” – 8/5/20

UPDATE Aug 12/20: Joe Sbrocchi, Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Ontario GM, disagrees. He says the majority of food produced in the province is not for export - ”a good portion of it is I wouldn’t say most,” he told WON.com. And he said what critics miss is that the industry is a “key economic driver” with 15,000 employed, about half of them Canadian workers.

Reproduced art could enhance DT streets

The Art Gallery of Windsor hopes to take its venerable art collection to the streets. The AGW is in talks with the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association to position reproductions of various artworks outside in downtown locations. AGW director Jennifer Matotek says these would be in “unexpected places” in the city centre. She said the museum also is looking at “opportunities with other partners” on how to enhance the “cultural vibrancy” of downtown Windsor. The effort would be similar to the Detroit Institute of Arts which for several years has located reproductions of its works in various communities. – 7/8/20

Not one but two Sleep Country stores opening in the Windsor area

Sleepless in Windsor? Apparently not. As an indicator of the city’s rapid growth, one of the country’s largest mattress company’s is opening not one, but two, stores here and in rapid succession. “As one of the top three fastest growing cities in Canada, Sleep Country is excited to play a role in the city's economic recovery with new job creation,” the Toronto based retailer says. The first store opens July 3 at 4450 Walker Road followed by a second store at 35 Amy Croft Drive July 9. Nodding to current Covid protocols the stores will feature enhanced health and safety. Sleep Country is also donating a “selection of bedding essentials” to the Welcome Centre Shelter for Women and Families (photo). The company has more than 260 outlets across Canada. – 7/2/20

Pandemic triggers credit union first

London-based Libro Credit Union announced its the first Canadian financial institution to offer electronic money transfers across the entire banking system – credit unions, banks and fintechs. This is through the Interac e-Transfer system. The announcement comes after a survey found that Canadians are eschewing cash payments during Covid-19. A Payments Canada survey found 62 per cent of people are spending less cash. “With digital services becoming increasingly important, Libro has continued enhancing its already-strong online service offering,” the credit union says. The study found “dramatic shifts” in spending behaviour between pre-pandemic and current spending. It found “higher use of contactless payments, electronic payments, e-commerce, online/mobile banking, and lower demand for cash.” – 5/28/20

"I need a drink" greeted news of virus outbreak

WON.com was curious as to how much of an effect the recent incursion of wine sales in grocery stores was having on traditional LCBO sales. We were also wondering the same about the effect of increasing grocery store beer sales on the traditional Beer Store's near monopoly. LCBO wrote back regarding sales primarily through the Covid-19 lockdown, about which we’d asked a secondary question. Sales across “most channels” were up “significantly” mostly between the first two weeks of the virus tsunami – March 12 to 24, a media rep said. “Sales have since returned to normal volumes.” The LCBO also saw “a significant increase in e-commerce and higher than average grocery orders and shipments.” As to our primary question - the effect on general grocery sales - the rep said no numbers will be released until audited financials. For its part, The Beer Store did not respond.– 5/12/20

Gleaners, expecting great year, shuts

Southwestern Ontario Gleaners, a Leamington based charity that packages unmarketable surplus vegetable produce and fruit into dehydrated soup mix and fruit snacks, has temporarily shut down. The volunteer run organization abruptly laid off all staff due to Covid-19. “2020 started out incredibly well,” GM Joel Epp says. “The number of volunteers was at an all-time high, production was rolling at a record pace and we were targeting over five million servings to be distributed both locally and internationally.” Production halted eight weeks ago and leftover produce was shipped to a number of charities. – 5/5/20 (UPDATE June 11: Gleaners has now reopened with safety precautions and is looking for volunteers.)

Grocery clerks have to sometimes pick up shoppers' masks

Grocery stores near universally have provided extra compensation to staff during the Covid-19 crisis. UFCW spokesman Tim Deelstra said on average there has been a “temporary boost” of $2 an hour. “There are some variations on that depending on the employer.” This includes Loblaw, Metro, Rexall as well as processors like Maple Leaf Foods and Cargill. Grocery staff's wages prior to the increase varied from minimum wage to more than $20 depending on classification and seniority. Deelstra said one of the biggest problems for store clerks is customers. “More often than we would like people are leaving their own personal protective equipment behind in grocery carts or on the ground leaving it for our members to pick up,” he said. As for clerks sometimes not wearing masks, Deelstra said the union encourages PPE. But health authorities have changed their message, “where the initial advice was that it wasn’t necessary” to today where wearing masks is “a good idea.” - 23/4/20

Art Van to honor deliveries to Canada

Art Van Furniture, the once very successful Detroit-based furniture chain, will complete deliveries to its Canadian customers. A spokeswoman said the chain, which is to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, is “completing deliveries to our Canadian customers. We are not taking any more orders. There is a bunch going out this week and then a final truck going out toward end of March. So we will fulfill all current Canadian orders.” The once vaunted family owned chain, chief sponsor of Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade, with 190 stores in several midwestern states, was sold to Boston-based private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2017 after founder Art Van Elslander died. All Art Van stores are to close in 60 days. The familiar brown Art Van trucks had been seen on local streets in recent years after the company expanded delivery service to Canada. – 3/9/20

"Uptown" name finally is starting to sink in

It’s taken three years to sink in but people are finally starting to refer to Ottawa Street as “Uptown.” The commercial street’s BIA director Ettore Bonato, owner of Ettore Salon and Aesthetics, said the BIA decided to change the name to “Uptown Ottawa Street” to differentiate from downtown and other BIAs. The name is also a throwback to the way people used to refer to the street. “A long time ago, people went downtown or uptown and Ottawa Street was known as Uptown,” he said. There were department and clothing stores among many well-known retailers of the era. “This was a place where people went shopping before the mall,” which opened in 1970, he said. An updated sign was installed three years ago. But the new designation “is just getting out (to people) now.” – 2/24/20

Image: BIA facebook page