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Toronto Raptors Official NBA Basketball Team Logo "We The North" Poster - Trends 2021

In my more recent blogs, aside from highlighting local businesses, I have attempted to feature companies from other parts of Canada or from around the world.  While this particular business does have a showroom in Toronto, the majority of the business they do is online, and most of their products are shipped to international destinations.

The Sports Poster Warehouse is owned by a gentleman who I’ve personally known for many years, Neil Flagg.  Given Neil’s passion for sports, when he finished school he set up his own company which as the name would suggest, specializes in sports-themed posters.  Neil sells anything from older, hard-to-get, vintage posters, to posters of today’s most popular players and teams.  In fact, his products are so up to date that usually within a few hours of a championship trophy being awarded (i.e. Superbowl, World Series, etc.) Neil will have posters in stock.

In addition. Neil also offers a number of health-related posters that are not strictly sports-related, but athletic in nature. His tens of thousands of posters are easily grouped into categories on his website and range from as little as five dollars to as much as $20.00, and all sorts of points in between.

The website is easy to navigate, and you can place your orders 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Depending on where you live, you could get your posters delivered in as little as 24 hours or a bit longer.

There’s always someone available to answer questions on the phone, and Neil specifically is knowledgeable—not with just his business, but sports and sports trivia as well.

While a lot of his business comes from individuals who just want to put a poster up in their room, he also sells to businesses like sports bars, gyms, and offices.

Many years ago, I remember having posters of my favourite teams and athletes up in my room, and despite technology, it seems that this is still something that many people like to do.  Check out his website and throw him a sports trivia question while you’re at it.

The Sports Poster Warehouse
416-696-8353
sportsposterwarehouse.com/

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You Can’t Beat the Smell of a Classic Bookstore

6 of the best used bookstores in Montreal | Curated

Hello blog readers!  It’s Miriam again and I have once again pushed David aside to share with you my SQM Pick!

I am so happy that summer is here.  Not because I am going anywhere or doing much of anything….the pandemic saw to that.  Since we are spending lots of time at home, I am, however, enjoying the effort that David and I have put into our backyard – new cushions for the outdoor furniture, new string lights, a bonfire pit and a hammock that my 14-year-old daughter loves to lie in and read under the shade of a tree.

While my girl loves to read – she doesn’t do it very often.  During the school year, homework becomes a priority, guitar lessons take over and playing competitive soccer three to four times a week, doesn’t leave a lot of downtime for pleasure reading.  With overnight camp closed for the summer of 2020, she has rediscovered her love of reading, with the help of a little store and a little tale that goes back 14 years to the small town of Bracebridge, Ontario.

We are one of the lucky ones, as my parents have a cottage in northern Ontario.  Every year, since Talia was a baby, we would go up on summer weekends and would inevitably end up walking around town.  It is there that we discovered the Owl Pen Bookshop, a used bookstore with all the charm that you would expect in cottage country.  Talia was always allowed to go in and choose herself a book and it became part of her cottage ritual.  Even when David and I didn’t go up with her and she went with my parents and her cousins, a trip to the Owl Pen was always worked in.  Fast forward to present day and the love affair with this bookstore has found renewed life in a pandemic era, where summer camp has to wait until next year and cell service at the cottage is seriously spotty.

It began a few weeks ago, when my parents were heading up north and we were still not “bubbling” with them yet.  Talia asked me if we could call Owl Pen and find out if they had books that she wanted and then maybe “my grandparents could do a curbside pick up for me”.  I called the store and Katherine (she and her husband took over the family store from her in-laws) answered the phone.  I explained that I was from Toronto and my daughter was a huge fan of her store.  I gave her a list of books that Talia wanted, she went to the shelf, pulled them all down for me, took an e-transfer payment, wrapped them up and brought them out to my mom when she pulled in front of the store.  Since then, Katherine has kept her eyes out for books that are on Talia’s list, puts them aside and even suggested reading that she thought Talia would enjoy.  When we head up north, our first stop is always the Owl Pen to pick up my daughters curated reading material.  

Yes, we could easily order these books online, but Talia, at 14 years of age, still loves the thrill of going to her favorite bookstore.  And I happily plunk down all the cash necessary to support her love of reading…and a small family business that provides outstanding customer service.

The Owl Pen Bookshop
58 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge, Ontario
705-645-1966
Ask for Katherine and remember: they only accept cash and e-transfer.

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Salbro Bottles…A Package Deal

As some of you know, not too long ago,  my business partner and I started a second business called Minus H2O, where we manufacture ultra-concentrated cleaning products. The company began as a passion project with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and plastic pollution, while also saving consumers and businesses a lot of money.

In the early stages of developing the product, we knew that we would need bottles, and one of my colleagues recommended I contact a local company, known as Salbro Bottles.

I first reached out to them a couple of years ago and ever since, they’ve been amazing to deal with.  I had originally explained that we were a startup, and were unfamiliar with consumer packaged goods. One of the owners and his colleagues walked us through the process of recommending bottles, sending samples, and assisting us in making the best choice possible for our initiative.

Since that time, Minus H2O has grown and Salbro has also been very good to us when we’ve had special requests or need special orders. They also took the time to help me with a presentation, where I needed 500 empty bottles to show a retailer how much plastic pollution they’ve been emitting.

Aside from their willingness to help, it’s great to be dealing with a company that’s looking ahead long-term. While many businesses these days would rather make money on the first sale, this company is determined to build a lasting, long-term business relationship.

Salbro Bottles has recently been purchased by TricorBraun, another packaging company, but the Toronto staff remains the same.  What’s even more important is that the company vision has remained consistent and they’ve been true to their word.  They’re just as helpful today as when I first met them.

If you’re ever in need of different bottles and packaging material in bulk, I highly suggest you give them a try!

Salbro Bottle
http://www.salbrobottle.com/
905-850-1190

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Pandemic Puzzles and Catello Toys

A perfect match: The health benefits of jigsaw puzzles

As the family puzzler, today I am tagging David out, so I can tag in, with an SQM pick of my own.  My name is Miriam.  I’m David’s wife and the Operations Manager, here at SQM.

While the rest of the world found jigsaw puzzles during the pandemic shutdown, I trailblazed many moons ago:  I am confessing to a long term love for puzzling.  I’m particular about my puzzles – they need to be busy with lots of detail to keep my interest piqued.  They should amuse me, keep me engaged and be something that I want to keep looking at.  I long since settled on Heye puzzles, as my jigsaw of choice.

Fast forward to the pandemic of 2020 and the world caught up to me. Puzzles were out of stock in every store, online and families were trading them as precious commodities.  And with good reason:  they are great indoor family projects (I say this and yet, neither David nor my daughter would deign to help me with one of them…), test your patience and work your brain.

I came across a fabulous company from Quebec, in my hunt for my perfect puzzle:  Castello Toy Store.  Their website was a breeze to navigate and was updated constantly, as stock fluctuated.  The prices were great (compared to other companies that saw an opportunity, charging outrageous prices at the height of the pandemic) and shipping was included.  Customer service was happy to speak with me, directly, to answer any questions that I had (bonus..in English!) and my puzzle was promptly delivered to my doorstep in just a few days.

Hopefully (with a little bit of luck and a lot of science), we won’t be forced back into a stay at home order.  Yet, even if we are taking baby steps to go out again and poking our noses outside, I will puzzle on in my pyjamas, with puzzles delivered right to me, from Castello Toys.

Castello Toy Store
www.castellojeu.com
1-855-538-3383

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And the SQM Picks Goes To…

A few weeks ago, I wrote about ways to support local, small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.  Now, while you are supporting these businesses, I’d like to hear about them.

Maybe there’s a local restaurant that has been having a hard time, but still cooking up your favourite dishes?  Perhaps there’s an employee at a retail store that you feel has gone above and beyond the call of duty to get you what you’re looking for?  Or it could just be a business that regularly and consistently provides top-notch customer service.

Nominate any business…large or small….and I will try to feature them in an upcoming post of SQM Picks.

Comment below with your nominations!

Be safe and be well.

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One Good Cause Deserves Another

Given the increased focus on cleaning, we recently shared some information about SQM’s second company, Minus H2O.

While we certainly appreciate anyone who supports our business, in light of the Covid-19 crisis,  we would also like to help other organizations that are in need of support during these challenging times.

To help others, Minus H2O will be donating 10% for every bottle sold in Canada, to the Food Banks of Canada, and for every bottle sold in the United States, to Feeding America.  These are very worthy causes that are in need, more than ever, at this time.

You can purchase a bottle by clicking on the following links, or for larger orders, simply contact me directly:

In Canada:  https://amzn.to/2QCDFcZ

In the USA:  https://amzn.to/2VWuic3

Practice #SocialDistancing and #StayAtHome as much as possible.  If you’re in need of cleaning supplies, please avoid crowded stores!

Please share this information with your friends, family, and colleagues and thank you again for supporting Minus H2O as well as these important causes.

Be safe, and be well.

The SQM Team

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How to Support Local Businesses During COVID-19

The past few weeks have been a trying time for many Canadians, both personally and financially.  One sector of the economy that has been particularly hard hit by the lockdown is local and small businesses. Unfortunately, many companies have been forced to close their doors, while others are struggling to make ends meet.  Although online support has been fantastic, there still needs to be more done instead of simply “liking” a post or photo.

Here are some simple ways that you can support local businesses:

1. Participate in Takeout Wednesday
Takeout Wednesday is just as it sounds. The idea was started by restaurant owners to raise awareness that while it may not look like it, many restaurants remain open for takeout and delivery.  So, every Wednesday, you can show your support by purchasing lunch or dinner from a local establishment.  Personally, I recommend, delivery, as it allows you to continue social distancing, and avoid crowded restaurant lobbies.

2. Purchase a Gift Card
If you don’t feel a need to buy anything at this time, you can still show your support by purchasing a gift card or credit for your favourite restaurants, stores, salons and spas.

3. Online Services
While it may not seem so, many local businesses are currently offering ways you can purchase their products or services from the comfort of your homes.  Check if your favourite place offers online purchases.

4. Tips
When possible, simply tip or give some extra money to the people helping out.  Whether it’s the delivery person or someone who may not necessarily be in a position that normally receives a gratuity, these days it is certainly appreciated by frontline workers.

5. Reschedule Instead of Refunding
If you have an event coming up, such as an appointment with your hairdresser or barbershop, simply reschedule for a later date instead of asking for a refund.  Even if you haven’t paid for anything, trust me, they will appreciate the support

6. Schedule an Appointment or Make a Reservation
Another way to support small businesses is by scheduling an appointment at a salon, spa or making a reservation for months into the future at your favourite restaurant.  While many services are on hold until the lockdown ends, many businesses are still willing to book appointments and take reservations.

7. Share
While liking a post is helpful to gain popularity, you can also share your own posts about the local business you support to raise more awareness and gain even more support.

8. Don’t Forget About Summer Contractors
While we are still under lockdown, you can still continue with any summer outdoor home improvement project, from fixing your roof to doing dome landscaping.  Seasonal workers only have a short window to do this work, so book now.

9. Donate
If you don’t shop locally, it is still great to show support.  You can simply make a donation by going to a gofundme page.

This virus has tested many Canadians and has been hard on everyone, however with a bit of help, we can all support local businesses until there is an end to social distancing.

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