Tag Archives: Local Business

How To Celebrate Valentine’s Day During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Like all holidays celebrated recently, this year’s Valentine’s will be slightly different from the rest. Whether you’re in a lockdown, quarantine, or just trying to stay safe during the pandemic, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the Valentine’s Day long weekend with your loved ones:

Treat yourself: Whether or not you’re in a relationship, it is always important to take some time (especially during the holiday season), to treat yourself. Order from your favourite restaurant, binge-watch your favourite tv show or do whatever it is that you find relaxing. Make an effort to have some valuable “me time”.

Romantic Dinner: There is no shame in the take-out game! This is the perfect time to support your local small businesses. Where possible, pick up the food directly from the restaurant instead of using UberEats or SkipTheDishes.

Cook at home: Show off those cooking skills you learned during lockdown/quarantine! If you’re looking to enhance your cooking skills, consider staying in and cooking, using ingredients from high-end grocery stores, such as Pusateri’s or Bruno’s Fine Foods. Cooking as a couple is a great way to bond.

Splurge On Dessert: Dessert is arguably the best part of any meal. If you or your significant other has a sweet tooth, here are some of our favourite bakeries in Toronto that you should try:  Bobbette & Belle have an excellent variety of artisanal pastries that you can order online, R Bakery Cafe boasts excellent customized cakes, as well as an impressive breakfast menu, The Rolling Pin has different daily flavours for their cupcakes, Dufflet Pastries allows you to mail a cookie to your loved one for Valentine’s, and Phipps Bakery has an assortment of unique pies and cakes to choose from.

Afternoon Tea: You are cordially invited to high tea at The Windsor Arms, which is currently offering a tea at home for 2 program. The package also comes with a variety of scones, sandwiches, and cakes. 

Gourmet Chocolates: You could go the old-fashioned route and get your partner a nice box of chocolates. SOMA Chocolate Maker has unique shapes and custom orders, Ambience chocolat carries gourmet chocolate boxes, and The Chocolateria has chocolate bars, cookies, and an assortment of gifts.

Take your date outdoors: Skating is a way of getting out and getting some great exercise—although you have to book in advance. Skating rinks that are available for booking are High Park, Nathan Phillips Square, Mel Lastman Square, and Rosedale Park.

Volunteer in a soup kitchen: At a time when everyone’s trying to help others, you could consider putting off your date night to deliver foods to the homeless or help out at a soup kitchen. Some kitchens and food banks around Toronto that are accepting volunteers include the Daily Bread Food Bank, and The Salvation Army.

DIY Vanilla Extract Kits: If you’re buying your partner a gift, why not get them something from the World’s Best Vanilla Company! I’m involved with this company and want to let you know about the Valentine’s Day version of our popular, Make Your Own Vanilla Extract bottles.

Just add your choice of alcohol, follow the instructions, and in a few weeks, you will have some amazing extract to bake with.

If you’re interested, check us out on Facebook or email info@worldsbestvanilla.com

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!

 

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The Most Important Meal of the Day

In Praise of the Perfect Diner Breakfast

If anyone’s in the mood for a classic American breakfast, there’s a quaint diner called Norval Pancake Factory at 71 Mountainview Road North in Georgetown, that serves some amazing waffles, pancakes, omelettes, and other brunch items.

I first stumbled across the diner when it was at a different location, about 15 years ago. It was the first time I met Effie, the owner of Norval Pancake Factory. Effie is superb when it comes to customer service—she’s great at making sure both the service and food are excellent. The restaurant serves anything from all-day breakfast to club sandwiches, and of course, pancakes. At one point, they switched over to a fancier night diner, but to my knowledge, they’ve switched back to doing breakfast.

All the food is served hot and fresh. I once ordered a club sandwich and it took a little longer than average to get it to my table because they were grilling the chicken and bacon fresh. The meals are good portions, and everything is reasonably priced.

I was a little concerned about dining in, because I haven’t dined in many restaurants over the past few months, but it was great to see that the booths were separated by plexiglass, staff were all wearing face masks, and tables were spaced out appropriately. Effie visited tables just as she used to and asked how everyone’s meals were. Staff were extremely friendly, well trained, and familiar with the menu.

If you’re looking for somewhere to grab some unique breakfast items (smarties pancakes, cinnamon apple pancakes, and caramel pancakes), I highly recommend Pancake Factory.

Norval Pancake Factory
905-873-9080
http://www.thenorvalpancakefactory.com/

 

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A Nostalgic Pastime of Mine

Photos: Awesome Bobby Orr pinball machine - CBSSports.com

As mentioned in a recent post of mine, many years ago, in my younger days, like many teenagers, I often went to arcades to play either pinball or video games.

When I was in my 20’s, I was over at a friend’s apartment, and much to my surprise he had bought a full-sized video game, known as Space Invaders. Since this was the first video game I ever played, I was feeling a touch of nostalgia, so he directed me to the company, where I too bought one.  After being bit by the bug, a couple of years later I added to my big boy toys, when I purchased my favourite pinball machine. Bobby Orr Powerplay.

At the time when I made the initial purchase, I was introduced to a woman by the name of Dallas, who was the owner of a company known as Toronto Coin Machine Exchange, also known as The Original Pinball Exchange Club.  Dallas and her husband run the company that sells, services, and repairs various pinball and video machines.  The company is based in Hamilton, but they work all over both the GTA as well as Ontario.

Over the years, I’ve kept in touch with Dallas, and every so often, I think about buying another machine (presently I have my eyes on adding a Dome Hockey game to my collection.  In the meantime, I enjoy my two machines, and they are near and dear to my heart.

In more recent times, one of the machines was damaged during a move, but Dallas and Toronto Coin came to the rescue.  Not only did they help repair the machine, but they performed maintenance that was long overdue.  The machine is now back up and running, and I’m having as much fun with it now as I did when I first bought it 20 years ago.

When I mention to others that I own these machines, I’ve been surprised to find out that many others also have games in their basements, and enjoy playing them for hours on end.  Some parents feel that they not only keep the kids occupied, but they enjoy both knowing that their kids and their friends are having fun, but also that they know where they are and close by.  In addition, given that a lot of people are cooped up, inside, and looking for some different activities. you just may want to consider adding these toys to your household.  They aren’t overly expensive and you’ll be surprised at all the fun you and the family can have.

 If you’re ever looking for a video game, pinball machine, jukebox or in need of repairs to one that you already own. don’t hesitate to reach out to Toronto Coin.

Toronto Coin Machine Exchange
http://www.pinballexchange.com/
416-789-1806

 

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In Need of a Party Planner?

As everyone knows, I often try to promote small and neighbourhood businesses on my blog. In my particular neighbourhood, 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, stationery and bunk decorations can’t be beat.  There are 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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Designs of a True Business

For this blog, I’d like to talk about one of the first suppliers that I used when I was starting up my second business, Minus H2O.

As many of you know Minus H2O manufactures super-concentrated cleaning products. The company began as a passion product with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and plastic solutions, while simultaneously saving consumers and businesses a significant amount of money on their cleaning supplies

In the early days of Minus H2O, one of the many items on my to-do list was to create labels for our various products.  At the time, we had already designed a company logo, but as I was learning more about this new industry, I realized that labels for bottles were a whole separate area of design.  Since I’ve always felt that it is better to use somebody who has prior experience with specific projects, off I went in search of someone who has designed labels for consumer packaged goods.

Through another one of my colleagues, I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Oneil Lewis, who worked as a freelancer graphic artist….specializing in consumer packaged goods.  Oneil manages his own company, Simple Representations, and I’ve been using his services, from time to time, over the past three years.

Amazingly, Oneil and I have never met in person.  The first time, we connected was on the phone and he simply asked me for some information about the company, the text for the label (he even suggested I include such item as ingredients, descriptions, and instructions), and lastly that I sent him to send him the company logo.  A few days later, and the first version of the label arrives, and he’s nailed it….capturing 90 percent of what I needed, leaving only a few minor modifications to be done.

In more recent times, I faced a challenge where somebody had asked me for a prototype of a package that we presently don’t have.  Since the package also requires a label, I called up Oneil and told him that I needed some help in mocking something up.  Since he knew that I really didn’t have much of a budget, he simply asked me to pay him if and once I was successful in getting the contract.

Rather than just a supplier, Oneil is the definition of a true partner.  He looks out for my well-being and tries his best to help me put my best foot forward,. because he knows that if I succeed, he succeeds.  It’s always great to work with someone in a business who is enthusiastic, talented, and a pleasure to deal with.  Thanks for everything, Oneil.


Simple Representations
Oneil Lewis
416-509-0299

 

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A Blast from the Past

Bally - Pinball Machine - Bobby Orr Power Play - 1977 | HockeyGods

This post will be something a little different, but I’m always trying to give a shout-out to businesses that offer great service.

Not everyone knows, but many years ago, maybe due to nostalgia or trying to hold onto some of my youth, I bought a full-sized Space Invaders video game and a full-sized Bobby Orr pinball machine.  At the time I purchased the machines I was still living at home, so my business partner put up with my nonsense and allowed me to keep them in the boardroom.

Just to take things to the next level, I reached out to Bobby Orr, himself, and asked if he could possibly come by my office to autograph the pinball machine.  Much to my delight, he said the next time he was coming to Toronto, he would stop by my office.  A couple months later, all of a sudden, my receptionist comes into my office saying that there was a Bobby Orr here to see me (as an aside, the receptionist was much younger, and had no idea who Bobby Orr was).  I immediately came out of my office, greeted him, and took him into the board room where he signed both the playing surface and side of the pinball machine.

A few years later, when we ended up moving offices, I needed to come up with a place for the two machines to go and took up a family member’s offer to store them in an area of their building that was unused.

Fast-forward to the present day, and I was told by my relatives that I had to move the machines as they were going to be renting out the space. When I came by to move the machines, my heart sank.  Even though I had left them well protected, unbeknownst to me someone else moved them to a different room and the glass artwork (the main front panel is known as the back glass) of the Bobby Orr pinball machine had been broken into about 15 different pieces. This machine was about 40 years old and I was at a loss as to how I could possibly fix it.

I started doing some research and learned a heck of a lot more than I ever knew about pinball machines (look forward to another blog about this). After searching all over North America. I was directed to a place in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia called Classic Playfield Reproductions. Upon doing some more digging, I discovered they have the licensing rights to reproduce the various parts of a pinball machine  (including the backglass artwork).  Talk about a niche market!.

I reached out to them by email, got a very quick reply, and seeing how I was in Canada, they did me a favour and reduced the cost which was originally in US dollars. I placed my order online and not three to four days later, a UPS package arrived and very tightly, carefully, and safely packaged inside, was the back glass for my pinball machine.

I did a side-by-side comparison and the artwork looked bang-on!  Even the part of the artwork that had a mirror backing matched (there was another supplier who indicated their mirror looks more like a grey / silver paint).  It was so closely matched that you couldn’t tell it was a reproduction.

Now I know not everyone has a pinball machine and requires the services of this company, but it’s cool to see the niche workings of a business like this…and from a Canadian town….the home of Sidney Crosby, no less.  In fact, maybe they’re on to something, as it seems that what’s old is new again, and I am hearing of more and more people who are buying pinball machines for their homes and offices (you can get some for as low as $500.00)

To the folks at Classic Playfield Reproductions who helped me out when I was stressed about finding a critical part to my machine, and for taking such good care of me, thanks for everything!

Classic Playfield Reproductions
https://classicplayfields.com/

 

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Slam Dunk Customer Service

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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