Tag Archives: Canadian Business

Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19

Obviously, this year’s Thanksgiving is going to look a little different from last. Family get-togethers will be much smaller—if they happen at all.  But that doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t have as much fun this Thanksgiving weekend. Here’s a list of ideas and events that are happening around the GTA.

1. Take a hike and enjoy nature:
Take the opportunity to get out and stretch your legs while the weather’s still warm! The Scarborough Bluffs has 11 parks featuring trails, gardens, and beaches along the shore of Lake Ontario. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton has an amazing view of autumnal colours as the trees change with the season. The Elora Gorge Trail is also a favourite, as it showcases a 20m waterfall and 10km of scenery.

2. Fishing at Glen Haffy:
If recreational fishing is what you crave, Glen Haffy supplies rainbow trout from a hatchery, and visitors may fish from two ponds. The conservation area also offers a variety of nature trails that are ideal for bird watching.

3. Apple Picking:
Apples are in season! Carl Laidlaw Orchards, located in Brampton, are open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holiday Mondays for September and October. Chudleigh’s is also open for apple picking and has an animal farm and hiking trails for visitors to enjoy. Tickets must be purchased in advance. They are busy, so plan to go early to avoid lineups!

4. Take a drive in the country
It’s the perfect time of year to take a relaxing road trip out of town—go and pick up a pumpkin or some corn from your local farmer and enjoy the fall colours along the way. Take a trip up to the Apple Factory to get your fill of specialty products, or drive up to Collingwood to get a view of Blue Mountain.

5. St. Jacob’s Market:
Drive out to St. Jacob’s Market near Waterloo for a variety of different specialty vendors that include baked goods, books and toys, handmade crafts, and meat and seafood. You also have the option of purchasing a Market Meal Kit for 2 for $35, which includes cheese, dinner buns, a mini peach pie, and more. The market is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

6. Picard’s Peanuts:
There is tons to do at Niagara-on-The-Lake!  Wineries, lunch on a patio, if the weather permits, and don’t forget to hit up  Picard’s Peanuts for some freshly roasted peanuts and unique snacks, such as potato chip covered peanuts, chocolate covered marshmallow and sponge toffee and chocolate-covered peanuts.

7. Support a local restaurant:
Take a well-deserved break and have a night out. Order in from your favourite local restaurant or dine out to help support local businesses. There’s no need to stress yourself out over cooking a Thanksgiving feast!

8. Have a picnic:
Organize an outdoor picnic or BBQ at a local park. There are a number of parks around Toronto that have firepits and BBQs available, or you have the option of bringing in your own grill. High Park, Centennial Park, and Earl Bales Park all allow visitors to bring their own grill.

9. Virtual Oktoberfest:
The Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest has moved its event entirely online. On October 9th and 10th, tune into their stream to enjoy both live and pre-recorded events, including cowbells and yodelling, keg tapping, and Oktoberfest trivia.

10. Stay active:

Before the weather gets too cold, now’s the perfect time to get out and go for a bike ride or a jog. Enjoy the fresh air as you take a walk down to the beaches. ActiveTO has extended major road closures into October to encourage more space for cycling and walking. Road closures change from weekend to weekend, so check their website for updates.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be well and stay safe.

 

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In Need of a Party Planner?

As everyone knows, I often try to promote small and neighborhood businesses on my blog. In my particular neighborhood, Cathy Siegel owns the go-to store in midtown Toronto for anything and everything you would need for a party.

The store is called Party Rock and is located on Avenue Road between Lawrence Avenue and Wilson Avenue. Party Rock is a party supply and rental shop that has everything that you would need for a party – from balloons, to loot bag goodies.  If you’re looking for a themed party, she’s got everything from Star Wars themed balloons, napkins, plates, and cutlery to whatever craze is hot at the moment.  A lot of her party items are unique, so you won’t be able to find them in many other places.

Looking for everyday gifts?  Party Rock carries it all – from funky, fun socks to games the whole family can enjoy.   Sending the kids to overnight camp?  Cathy’s selection of fun pillows, stationary and bunk decorations can’t be beat.  There’s countless aisles of decorations, toys, and stuffers for any holiday that you can think of.  In more recent times, because everyone seems to be focused on puzzles, she’s started stocking a lot of different varieties, in all sizes and all levels of difficulty.

Cathy will also supply seasonal items, such as pool toys and swimming gear, and special occasion items, such as sombreros and piñatas for Cinco de Mayo. In addition, she’s able to do a variety of different balloons displays that include arches, names and numbers.  

Cathy and her staff also make for wonderful party consultants. People are known to use her for bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, where she’s able to tie the party theme together with matching invitations and decorations.  She’s also more than willing to source out items for you – just because she doesn’t have it in-store, doesn’t mean she won’t be able to get her hands on it.  Whether you’re having a kids birthday party, celebrating a special occasion, or if it’s a large-scale event like a bar mitzvah or engagement party, Cathy will be able to handle all of your party needs.

Once you’re inside Party Rock, you will be like a kid in a candy store!  And for the record, she has the candy too!

Party Rock
1919 Avenue Road
647-966-0019
CathyPartyRock@gmail.com

 

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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 needed 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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Leitner Headsets Stands Behind their Product

Although my blogs are often related to the Toronto area, or the region I live in, SQM is an international company, so I’m always excited when I have the chance to spread the word about businesses in other areas of the world.  Today, I’m glad to be able to put a spotlight on a company that is based in the United States, and ships their product to many other countries. 

Since I spend a good chunk of the day on the telephone, a number of years ago I decided that instead of straining my neck, I’d start using a headset (on a related note, wow does it make a difference….it is much more comfortable).  While I have had several different headsets over the past decade, last year my business partner hooked up a wireless version that is built by a company called Leitner Headsets.  The base is actually plugged into the phone, but the headset itself has no wires attached, and is charged when sitting on the base. 

While the headset is quite comfortable and reliable, over the past couple of months an issue has come up where the headset disconnects, lights flash, and it doesn’t work.  Since the headset wasn’t even a year old, I was getting mildly irritated, as I thought it would be a pain to fix, since the product was from the United States.  Nonetheless, I decided to call up Leitner Headsets to see what could be done.  On the first call, I was quickly connected to a gentleman, who immediately found my account.  He was extremely pleasant to deal with, and since he seemed to be quite knowledgeable, we ended up trying to troubleshoot to see if he could guide me through fixing the problem.  At the end of a short call, he told me that someone would check back with me in a couple of days to see if the issue was resolved, and if it wasn’t they would simply send me out a new headset. 

The very next day, the initial problem occurred again, but before I called them back, I decided to wait to see if I would get a call.  I didn’t expect anyone to call me back, but sure enough two days later, on the day that they said they would follow up with me, they actually did!  This second employee seemed confident that she could fix the issues, she asked if it would be okay to take me through some additional steps before sending me out a replacement headset.  Since the staff have a-can do attitude and the issues weren’t mission critical, I was fine with giving it another shot.

Again, the fix seemed to work for a couple of days and then I started running into the same issues again.  A few days later, I received another follow-up call, and when I explained to them it was still broken, they immediately said that they would send me a new headset. 

After the call, I received a couple of emails, including a note indicating that my headset was on the way, as well as a status update, and although they indicated that it may take up to a week before the new headset would arrive, three days later I received the package.  Even the package showed me that I was dealing with a customer-centric organization, as there were two stickers on the outside of the box.  The first, indicated that the package was “picked with customer love by Mitch” and “thanks for being a loyal customer since 2018” 

But that’s not all!  On the day that I finally got around to opening the box, much to my surprise, the company includes a handful of candies in the package  I can’t recall every receiving an added surprise, like this, and this small gesture certainly put a smile on my face. 

For these days where I’ve often said that successful companies stand behind their product, Leitner was great at troubleshooting and when they realized that wasn’t going to work, they sent me a replacement with no fuss, meaning no stress on my end. They have a great product and clearly a great culture that is focussed on customer service.  They are a pleasure to deal with, and I highly recommend them your headset and telecommunications needs. 

Leitner Headsets 
212-230-4525 
leitnerheadsets.com

 

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Unparalleled Experience

Several months ago, I heard about a popular Middle Eastern restaurant that had opened up in Toronto called Parallel. The restaurant is owned by the Ozery Brothers, of Ozery Bakery fame, and the creators behind the popular pitas that are available across the country and in some select locations in the United States. The Ozery Bakery has been around for more than 20 years and has grown from a small family owned bakery to a staple for alternative bread products. The Ozery Brothers’ new restaurant is sure to become a staple for Middle Eastern cuisine due to the great food, wonderful ambiance, and the overall unique experience that it has to offer.

Where the Ozery Bakery was the creation of just Alon and Guy; Parallel is a collaboration between Alon, Guy and their brother, Aharon. The addition of Aharon is apparent in how the space, location, and ambiance of the restaurant differs from that of Ozery Bakery. By having the three brothers all collaborate together, putting their individual skills and tastes into the restaurant, they have created a restaurant that is bursting with flavour and style.

Parallel itself is a small, open concept space that seats about 75 people. An interesting aspect of the restaurant is that it backs onto the kitchen, allowing diners to see what is happening behind the scenes. The decoration is minimal, though the art pieces that are on the walls, are statement pieces and draw the eye. The high ceilings and the trains that can be seen through the window, give the restaurant a chic, yet warm, ambiance that is reminiscent of a working, living warehouse.

Now, don’t be fooled by the location or the modern ambiance. The food is steeped in tradition, and the dining experience is based in community. The menu is all about shareable items and diners can share beer and food with the table. This adds to the overall experience and charm of the restaurant and makes Parallel a great place for a friendly get together, a date, or a relaxing night out.

The menu offers dishes that suit all likes and dietary lifestyles. Parallel offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, while also offering a selection of diary, gluten and meat dishes. The menu is not overly extensive, but there is enough variety that diners feel like that they can sample a wide variety of flavourful food, and non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

The acquaintance who told me about the new restaurant raved about how great it was and told me that they had already decided to go back. They were very excited, but there was a problem; it was so busy, they had to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance and they didn’t know if they would be able to wait that long. Now I don’t know about you, but when there is a wait list that long, I know that I have to go and see for myself what the craze is about.

So that’s exactly what I did… two weeks after I had made my own reservation.

When I arrived, my guest and I were immediately greeted and escorted to a table that had already been set. The server was great; they were personable, friendly, and full of suggestions. There was a great variety of food and beverages available, and the atmosphere was lively. The Parallel salad was tasty, and the fried cauliflower was amazing! The mushroom dish was unique and delicious. The flavours of each dish were mouth-watering and memorable. They were plated attractively and were a decent portion size; though, I will admit that I found the restaurant to be a little bit on the expensive side, the food and the experience was well worth the money. I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of their menu, because if the food is as flavourful as the cauliflower or the salad, I know that I am in for an exciting treat.

Living in Toronto means that there are tens of thousands of restaurants that are available to choose from; and it has become increasingly difficult to find a unique, fun, and delicious restaurant that stands out. That being said, Parallel is one of those restaurants that is unique, memorable, and different, and in my humble opinion, everyone should try it and see for themselves how great it is.

Parallel is closed Monday and Tuesday, but it is open every other day of the week, offering both brunch and dinner. So, whether you are looking to try a new type of cuisine, impress a dinner date, or have a fun, relaxing brunch with friends or family, Parallel is unparalleled in providing great food and a great atmosphere, and you should definitely stop by to check it out.

Parallel
(416) 516-7765
www.parallelbrothers.com

 

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Taking Customer Service Into Account

Sensors Quality Management Inc. is coming up to its 26th year in business. Many years ago, when we first started out, I was fortunate that a few of my friends in accounting assisted me from time to time when we needed help with the books….the dreaded financial books!

When we got to the point where we needed an actual accountant, I had initially reached out to my good friend and lawyer, Mitchell Rose, who immediately recommended a colleague of his who he had met during university: Brian Bossin.

Brian’s accounting firm is named Bossin, Tin Yan Chartered Accountants, and right from our first meeting 20 years ago, I knew that Brian was going to be the perfect fit for both myself and SQM. Brian was clearly experienced and knowledgeable enough to deal with larger corporations, but also patient enough and willing to work with smaller, local businesses.

Unlike the bigger firms that often nickel and dime you as soon as you pick up the phone, Brian and his colleagues are more understanding, and are willing to take calls without running the meter, or meet from time to time to provide advice and direction.

In addition to doing the accounting for SQM, over the years, Brian has also taken care of my personal income taxes, done taxes for other family members, worked on other business-related projects, assisted me with various government applications and paperwork, and played a role in providing me with advice on tax and estate planning.

During the 20 odd years that I’ve known Brian, it’s become increasingly clear that he is knowledgeable and experienced with many facets of both personal and business accounting, and for areas in which he is not an expert, he can often direct me to somebody who is. I know that his advice and expertise is just a telephone call away.

Whether you’re looking for somebody to handle personal matters or your business, I highly recommend you consider Brian and the team at Bossin, Tin Yan Chartered Accountants for all of your accounting needs.

Bossin, Tin Yan Chartered Accountants
416-492-8484

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Dialling Up Great Customer Service

Many of the blogs that I write about are based on my own experiences, and while I try to write stories about my travels and encounters outside of Toronto, I do realize that many of my topics are centered on the Greater Toronto Area.

However, this story is about a Canadian company, and while they are here in Toronto, they’re also right across the country. I’ve written about them in the past, but I feel like it is necessary to mention them again.

For many years, my cell phone and cable provider has been Rogers. One of the reasons behind this is because when I ran into a problem several years ago, I came into contact with a customer representative who was extremely helpful and kind. Ever since then, I’ve kept in touch and she’s always been able to help me out whenever I’ve been in a pickle.

In more recent times, she’s taken on another position within the company but has been thoughtful enough to direct me to employees as kind as herself. Back a few weeks ago, I had a software problem with my phone, which then turned into a hardware problem. I realized I needed a new phone and reached out to one of my new contacts at Rogers—John.

I first connected with John when I was looking to reduce some of the costs connected with my services. At the time, John made a few adjustments, so I ended up with more features and services while at the same time, reducing my monthly costs.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when my phone had died and I reached out to him in a little bit of a panic, because like many people, my phone was like my life and I needed it to be working for various reasons. On top of that, my phone was fairly new…only two years old…and should have been operational. Even though John works on the west coast, he got back to me within minutes of me sending him an email, asked me what the issue was, and told me that if I could give him a bit of time, he would work on a solution.

In less than an hour he got back to me and gave me a number of options—all but one of them involved a new phone without any extra charges or long-term commitments. Once I made my decision, I received my new phone just two days later and I was back up and running in no time.

You would expect a company in telecommunications like Rogers to understand the urgency of uptime, and clearly they do from the way that John and some of his other colleagues work.

To tell you how Rogers is evolving as a company, years ago if I had a problem with my bill, phone, or other services, and I had to call Rogers, the hair would stand up on the back of my neck because the entire process was often quite frustrating.

In more recent times, they seem to be changing with the era, and adapting to the growing need for good customer support. I now know that I can count on Rogers to stand behind their services, and support me when I need it.

Rogers
1 (855) 381-7834
www.rogers.com

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